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Oregon Parks & Recreation Museum Grant Award
The Southern Oregon Historical Society is proud to announce that we are the recipients of an $8,284 Museum Grant award from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. This grant will cover part of the cost of cataloging, storing, digitizing, and sharing a unique collection of 3,000 Sawyers glass plate photo negatives. SOHS Archivist, Kira Lesley, will be overseeing the project.
In the 1920s, Sawyers was the largest purveyor of scenic postcards in the country and a major glass plate producer in Oregon’s economy for decades. The plates depict cultural and scenic Oregon and national landmarks, scenes from Native American life, rare shots from the Columbia River Gorge, early 20th Century images of the Portland Rose Festival, and more. One noteworthy image is that of Charles Lindbergh flying over Crater Lake.
This collection also opened the door on a complicated history. The collection was owned by William Gruber, inventor of the ViewMaster and a Nazi supporter. Although Gruber later renounced Hitler and the Nazi party, his connection to this collection complicated SOHS’s accessioning of these glass plate images. At the same time, it provided an opportunity not only to share the collection’s stunning content with the public, but also to explore in a public way how historians and cultural organizations wrestle with connections to figures whose views we denounce today.
This project will make available to the public rare images that capture the cultural and environmental history of Oregon. They capture ways of life of Native Americans, as well as the relationship between Native Americans and white business owners during the early twentieth century. In a time when climate change is endangering our most beloved natural resources, they capture the natural beauty of our state. These images have been out of wide circulation for 70 years and as such, present a fascinating time capsule of Oregon’s rich heritage.
For additional information, contact SOHS Archivist, Kira Lesley at email@example.com or 503-560-4150.