“History from Below” Oregon tour

Cover_OHQ_Summer-2014_262wThe summer edition of the Oregon Historical Quarterly includes an article on a unique three-region tour of the state in search of “History from Below.” Author Sarah K. Loose follows the tour from Grants Pass (September 2012) to Astoria (January 2013) and finally to The Dalles (May 2013).

PNLHA members were involved in parts of the tour which included workshops that offered themes tailored to “the unique history and current reality of each community.” Local historians and others “highlighted relevant historical social movements.”

Participants reviewed archival materials focused on the histories of their communities. Small groups discussed the “connections between historic movements and the issues and challenges facing their communities today.”

At Grants Pass, participants explored the “origins and structure of rural social movements and the unique history of southern Oregon’s Populist Party.” The Astoria meeting drew 100 participants to hear former PNLHA member Sandy Polishuk talk about the “contested history of Astoria’s radical Finnish immigrant community.”

At The Dalles, the Cascade Singers opened the workshop entitled “Power to the People” at which participants discussed the “fight to secure affordable and publicly owned power for the region.” PNLHA member Barbara Byrd facilitated the discussion on challenges to activists.

“The ‘History from Below’ tour challenged dominant narratives that locate social movement activity in urban centers and depict rural Oregon politics as state and homogenous,” Loose concluded. “It shows that history has been shaped not only by urban elites but also by ordinary and organized citizens or rural and small-town Oregon, working for change.”