The Quest Continues!

Black History Quest continues!

Hello, fellow Pionerds! It’s your host, Mariah, coming at you between shows to share more details about our most recent history investigation. Do you ever find yourself wanting more after the show ends? Well, look no further!

A screenshot of a virtual meeting titled "Black History Quest," featuring two speakers, Mariah Rocker and Larry Landis, engaged in a discussion.

In our most recent episode, Larry Landis, retired OSU archivist and history enthusiast extraordinaire, took a deep dive into the motive behind a cohort of Black students attending Oregon Agricultural College (OAC then, OSU now). In this presentation, we looked at the lives of some of these students, exploring how they were connected to the Portland community and what could be gleaned of their experiences at OAC. We explored the incredible impact of local legend Beatrice Morrow Cannady as a catalyst for Black enrollment at this college.

We asked Larry if there was something he wished he had time to dig into but we didn’t get to:

“One collection at OHS that I wish I’d delved into were records pertaining to the Portland branch of the NAACP dating back to 1914 and including the 1920s and 1930s. Although the catalog record did not seem to indicate anything relevant when I first read it, I later saw that the records included membership lists from the 1910s and 1920s. It would have been interesting to note how many of the students’ families belonged to the chapter. The link for the catalog record is here (the call number for the collection is Microfilm 195).

Probably the best source for folks to do their own research is The Advocate newspaper. The extant issues (1923- 1933) are part of the University of Oregon’s Historic Oregon Newspapers site. I do hope that additional issues, especially before 1923, can be located and digitized. I am particularly interested in how The Advocate addressed the rise of the KKK in 1922.”

Want to dig deeper into this story or one like it? Here are some resources:

Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library
OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center
Oregon Black Pioneers Digital History Collections

Want to be a future history investigator? Reach out to!

And, finally, a sneak preview of what’s to come in our next episode

In 1862, the Oregon legislature enacted a statewide poll tax, or head tax, on “each and every negro, Chinaman, Kanaka, and mulatto.” Richard Engeman dives into the story behind a document from our research files that recorded the collection of this tax in Wasco County in 1865. What was the significance and the impact of this Civil War-era tax on the lives of the affected Oregonians? What was the rationale for instituting the tax? Was there resistance to the tax? Was the tax rescinded, and if so, why and when? Richard will attempt to answer these questions and more on Wednesday, May 22nd at 7 pm. Join us then for our next episode of Black History Quest!

Tune in Wednesday, May 22 at 7:00PM on Facebook or YouTube.

You can find all Black History Quest episodes on YouTube here.