Browse Exhibits

Black United Front Oral History Project

This exhibit highlights the interpretive richness of a collection of oral history interviews with Black activists, educators, and mentors who led or supported the work of the Black United Front in Portland. The BUF in Portland was a branch organization of a national group which pressed forward a civil rights agenda during the 1980s. Notable accomplishments of the BUF in Portland involved education, and many of the narratives in the collection show the transformative power of teaching and learning. This exhibit contains audio and text excerpts from oral history interviews, photographs, press articles, documents, and biographies.

"Dikes are Safe at Present": The 1948 Columbia River Flood and the Destruction of Vanport

Take a journey along the Columbia from The Dalles to Puget Island. It is late spring 1948 and it has been unusually wet this year, even for Oregon, but now it's warming up and today looks like it's going to be especially nice. Certainly several other communities along the river have flooded, but the Housing Authority has just assured Vanport City that they are on top of the situation. The dikes are safe. The situation is under control, so relax and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend...

This exhibit contains over 100 (re)discovered Columbia River flood photos from around western Oregon and examines the city it destroyed and the university that grew out of it. The exhibit highlights several rarely-seen photographs, documents, and ephemera.

The Envious Tooth of Time

In early modern Europe, Time was seen as a destructive figure, relentlessly gnawing away at the works of man. The remnants of the ancient past that manage to survive were described as having escaped his "envious tooth." This exhibition highlights original printed works from the Portland State University Library Special Collections, ranging from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries, including an acquisition through the Gordon Hunter Fund: a rare 1613 edition of Cesare Ripa's celebrated iconographic handbook, Iconologia.

From the University Archives: the Vanport Extension Center, 1946-48

The University Archives at the Portland State University Library is home to the historical records documenting Portland State's beginning as the Vanport Extension Center (VEC). In the spring of 2010, Dr. Bill Lang's public history seminar drew upon these records to curate and design a digital exhibit highlighting life on the Vanport campus from its inception in 1946 to its devastation in the flood of 1948. The following exhibit is based upon their work.

The Gift Of The Word

This exhibit celebrates the legacy of PSU alumnus Gordon Hunter by representing the active engagement and learning at the heart of Portland State. Hunter's love of books and his passion for history inspired him to make a gift to the Library's Special Collections through the Oregon Community Foundation, which each year helps the Library acquire new rare and significant books and manuscripts to support the teaching and research at Portland State University. "The Gift of the Word" is a collaborative project exploring the history, creation, and significance of a selection of manuscripts from different periods and cultures. It was researched and curated by the students of Professor Anne McClanan's art history seminar in Spring 2012: Katherine Bass, Karena Bennett, Jeffrey Brown, Bronwyn Dorhofer, Normandie Holmes, Denise Loncar, Alexandra Park, Darcie Hart Riedner, and Christy Valentine.

Highlights from the Gates Collection of African American History and Culture

Over the course of three decades, Jeanette and Osly Gates assembled a collection of original letters, newspapers, periodicals and ephemera documenting African-American history and culture. In 1969, they donated their collection to the Portland State University Library to coincide with the establishment of the Black Studies Academic Program. This Special Collections exhibit features items from the Gates Collection that capture moments in a two hundred year struggle for civil rights that redefined our nation.

Obon Dancing in America: Reverend Yoshio Iwanaga Photo Album

Reverend Yoshio Iwanaga was a pioneering Buddhist minister who introduced bon odori (obon dancing) to numerous Japanese communities in California, Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia in the 1930s. This collection of family photos was first acquired by independent dance scholar Linda Akiyama in the 1980s and passed to Wynn Kiyama (School of Music, Portland State University and Portland Taiko) in 2014.

Of Place and Memory: The Yizkor Book as a Window into a World Destroyed

"Of Place and Memory: The Yizkor Book as a Window into a World Destroyed" is the digital edition of the Portland State University Library's 2011 exhibit featuring selections from its Yizkor collection. Curated by Judaic Studies Professor Natan Meir, "Of Place and Memory" explores the Yizkor or memorial book, a literary genre dedicated to remembering and memorializing Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust. The University Library's Special Collections is the steward of 136 original Yizkor books, the largest collection of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

Say We Are Here

Verdell A. Burdine Rutherford (1913-2001) and Otto G. Rutherford (1911-2000) were leading members of the African American community in Portland for much of the twentieth century. The photographs, documents, publications and ephemera in this exhibit represent the depth and breadth of the Rutherford family's community service while also providing a rich overview of the institutions and events central to Black Oregonians over the past one hundred years.

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