Preserving a Historic Photo Album

Sometimes history is preserved in unusual ways. A photo album, found in a house in historically Black North Portland, was gifted by the new owners to Oregon Black Pioneers. We approached Portland State University’s Black Studies Department and Special Collections to design a course around these rare photographs. Oregon Black Pioneers invited PSU students to research and digitize each photo. Their coursework has not only helped preserve these photos, but also prepared them for public access through PSU’s digital learning platform, PDX Scholar, where the public can browse these images of  Black Portlanders ca. 1950s – 1970s. We envision ongoing research projects to identify the people and places in the photos, and uncover stories of this historic community.

On Wednesday, March 22, 2023 – 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM, PSU’s Black Bag Speaker Series will present the launch of the Historic Photograph Collection. OBP will present the history and context of the Black Portland family albums at the heart of the project and PSU students will share their research and hands-on experiences in digital preservation. You can watch the video recording of the event at this link and read about it on the PSU blog here.

A summary of this project, and the reflections of participating students, will be published in Oregon Historical Quarterly this fall. Stay tuned!

You can support Oregon Black Pioneers’ work to preserve Oregon’s African American history. Click here for more.