Digital Highlights

The State Library has compiled a number of small digital highlights in the past and will continue to do so on a quarterly basis. These digital highlights are featured in our Letter to Libraries Online electronic newsletter. The featured digital highlight of the quarter can be viewed by going to the Featured Digital Highlight page.

Celebrating Oregon's Public Beaches
Oregon's Beach Bill (House Bill 1601) was a piece of landmark legislation passed by the 1967 session of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. The bill extended public ownership of land along the coast to 16 vertical feet above the low tide mark and recognized public easements of all beach areas up to the vegetation line. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, this curated collection of Oregon history contains publications directly related to the Beach Bill, as well as general information and photographs regarding beach development, conservation, and tourism. To learn more about the development of the Beach Bill, refer to the first publication in this collection entitled 1969 Beach Bill (H.B. 1045). For more general information, visit the Oregon Encyclopedia or watch the 2007 Oregon Public Broadcasting film. This online collection debuted in June 2017.
Celebrating Oregon's State Tree, the Douglas Fir
Which Oregon tree serves as a logging favorite and contributes significantly to Oregon’s status as the #1 Christmas tree-producing state in the US? The answer could be any number of evergreens in our vast forests, but there is one in particular that holds the additional honor of official state tree--the Douglas fir. In 1939, the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii, after a Scottish scientist who happened to be the first European to report seeing it) was named the official Oregon state tree by house concurrent resolution No. 5 of the legislative assembly. Prior to 1950, the botanical name of the tree was Pseudotsuga taxifolia, which means “false hemlock with yew-like leaves”, a name that in and of itself doesn’t seem very impressive, let alone definitive. But the Douglas fir has always been tricky to classify, having characteristics of the pine, the true fir, the spruce, and the yew. It has needles like a fir, but they're not held together at the base like pine needles are. Like the pine, its cones are suspended from its branches, and fall to the ground when ripe. True fir trees, however, have cones that sit upright on their branches and disintegrate on the tree at seeding time rather than falling to ground as a single cone. As such, the Douglas fir is related to none of them. It stands apart as an independent genus. In celebration of our unique and versatile state tree, this curated collection of Oregon history contains publications directly related to both the Douglas fir and forestry in general, as well as information about logging and Christmas tree production in Oregon. To learn more about the Douglas fir, visit the Oregon Encyclopedia or watch this short 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting video. This online collection debuted in December 2018.
Covered Bridges of Oregon
The first covered bridges in Oregon were built by pioneers in the 1850's, and construction costs were typically financed by owners charging tolls. The state began providing standard bridge design in the early 20th century, the most popular being the Howe truss. Covered bridges continued to be built into the 1950s due to the shortage of steel and abundance of Douglas fir during World War I and II. Why cover a bridge? Covered wooden bridges ensure that the large wooden trusses remain dry. A covered bridge could last up to 80 years, while an uncovered bridge would only last eight. With the help of Senator Mae Yih and the 1987 Legislative Assembly, the Oregon Covered Bridge Program was created to help fund maintenance and rehabilitation projects throughout the state. The Weddle covered bridge over Ames Creek in Albany, Oregon, was the first bridge to receive grant money from the program. This curated collection contains photographs and documents concerning covered bridges in Oregon and was debuted in September 2017.
Depression-Era Scrip
Due to bank suspension and a lack of physical currency during the Great Depression, scrip was used as a substitute for government issued currency by traders and employers. These fascinating examples of local currency issued in Oregon include scrip issued on sheepskin and buckskin.
Eugenics in Oregon
Although the concepts of eugenics have existed long before, the term was first coined by Francis Galton in 1883. Galton, a half-cousin of Charles Darwin, wished to apply the principles of the theory of evolution and selective breeding to humans. In practice, eugenics sought to improve the genetic quality of the human race by restricting marriage and reproductive rights for individuals deemed degenerate. Oregon was one of 33 states to enact eugenics law in America. Bethenia Angelina Owens-Adair, one of Oregon's first female physicians, helped write and promote the bill that was used to create the Oregon Board of Eugenics. The bill was first introduced and passed in 1909, but was vetoed by Governor George Chamberlain. The second bill was introduced, passed, and signed by Governor Oswald West in 1913. The Anti-Sterilization League, led by Lora Cornelia Little, succeeded in getting a referendum that repealed the Oregon Sterilization Act of 1913. But in 1917, the bill was re-introduced and signed into law without need for a voter-approved referendum. The 1917 statute established the Board of Eugenics, responsible for determining which individuals would be sterilized. The law was amended in 1919 to include an appeals process for patients and their families, and was codified into Oregon statute in 1920. In 1921, the 1917 statute was deemed unconstitutional by the Circuit Court of Marion County on the grounds of some unfair proceedings. The Board of Eugenics revised their practices, and a new law was signed and passed in 1923 to bring eugenics back to Oregon. The Board of Eugenics changed its name to the Board of Social Protection in 1967, after WWII and during the Civil Rights Movement. However, their practices remained unchanged. The last known forced sterilization occurred in 1981. A subcommittee of the Oregon State Senate finally repealed the eugenics statute and abolished the board in 1983. Governor John Kitzhaber, a member of that subcommittee, issued a formal apology on December 2, 2002, and declared December 10th as Human Rights Day. In his address, he states, "as we celebrate the progress we’ve made, we must also acknowledge the realities that darken the history of our state institutions." There was a total of 2,648 individuals sterilized in Oregon. View the full Eugenics Collection in the State Library catalog. This digital highlight was debuted in December 2017.
Governor Tom McCall's Centenary Birthday
Governor Tom McCall was born on March 22, 1913. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth, the State Library has digitized select prominent documents relating to his eight year term as governor of Oregon. Some key issues for Oregon’s 30th governor include land use planning and environmental protection, which are reflected in these documents. This digital highlight was compiled and debuted in March 2013.
Hanford Site
The Hanford Site is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex operated by the federal government on the Columbia River in the state of Washington. The Hanford Site is known as the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States. This collection highlights various issues at the Hanford nuclear site, including geological factors, environmental concerns, and histories of the cleanup. This digital highlight was compiled and debuted in September 2013.
Oregon National Guard Historical Newsletters
The Oregon National Guard serves as a reserve force to the United States Air Force and the United States Army, and has a long tradition and history dating back to 1843. This collection of historical newsletters dates back to 1921 and includes activity and deployment news, budgetary and statistical information, promotions, and photographs. You can browse each issue, or search the entire collection by keyword.
Oregon State Highway Maps
This collection includes the official Oregon state highway maps from 1919 to the present, with thanks to the Oregon Department of Transportation's Geographic Information Services.
Oregon Statehood Day
Oregon officially became part of the United States on February 14, 1859. Since then, Oregonians have celebrated Oregon’s birthday in a number of ways. This collection contains programs, reports, and other publications from statehood celebrations old and new. This digital highlight was compiled and debuted in February 2016.
Sales Tax in Oregon
These documents reflect the numerous times Oregon has considered a sales tax, and include summaries of legislative bills, studies, speeches, and recent blog posts. This digital highlight was compiled and debuted in December 2013.
State Fire Marshal Centennial
The Office of State Fire Marshal was established in 1917 through the passage of House Bill 226. The aim of this new office, according to the first issue of the Fire Marshal’s Bulletin, “will be to show that real fire prevention is the elimination of carelessness and the cultivation of carefulness.” To highlight some of the inceptive events of the Fire Marshal’s Office, the State Library has curated an online collection of early publications. This online collection is the first in our quarterly digital highlights series, and was debuted in March 2017.