Canneries on the Columbia

“Canneries on the Columbia” is a bit different from the other narratives you’ll find in the Oregon History Project. The focus here is on methodology and the ways we think about the past. Historian Elliott West, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas and an accomplished historian of the American West, introduces essays by four historians who offer different interpretations of canneries on the Columbia River. Katrine Barber, Associate Professor of History at Portland State University, connects the canneries to Native American culture. Chris Friday, Professor of History at Western Washington University, considers canners in the context of gender. Ellen Eisenberg, the Dwight and Margaret Lear Chair in American History at Willamette University, discusses race and ethnicity in the canneries. Joseph Taylor III, Professor of History at Simon Fraser University, focuses on the environmental history of the canneries. These historians, in one way or another, make reference to the New Western History, which retells the story of the American West by emphasizing the continuity of change over time, the diversity of cultures,the importance of place, and the role of conflict in shaping social conditions.