Oregon Historical Society Celebrates Oregon's Birthday

Photo: Ford, Brad

Join the Oregon Historical Society in commemorating the 165th anniversary of Oregon statehood by visiting the museum for free on Oregon’s birthday on Wednesday, February 14. Witness the Citizenship Ceremony that will take place in our pavilion at 11am and enjoy birthday cupcakes after touring the museum, which will be available at 2pm. 

In what has become an Oregon Statehood Day tradition, OHS is proud to host a Citizenship Ceremony in partnership with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with 30 local candidates for citizenship taking the Oath of Allegiance. All are welcome to attend this special ceremony, which will take place in OHS’s main lobby, the Patricia Reser and William Westphal Pavilion.

Current Exhibitions

OHS’s museum will be open for all to visit for free from 10am to 5pm on February 14. Current exhibitions include Models in Motion: The Ivan L. Collins Collection of Historic Vehicles in Miniatureon view now through May 4. Ivan L. Collins created historically accurate models of horse-drawn vehicles using painstaking research to ensure that every detail was authentic. Built at one-eighth scale, these models represent transportation technology before the automobile, from wagons used in Euro-American westward migration to those used in industry and for personal use. Collins saw this work as more than a hobby; his models were a way to preserve history for future generations. This exhibition showcases a majority of the wagons that Collins made during his lifetime.

Visitors can also enjoy Birds of the Pacific Coast: The Illustrations of R. Bruce Horsfall, on view through May 19. Combining his love of nature and art, R. Bruce Horsfall created detailed illustrated depictions of birds for Birds of the Pacific Coast written by Willard Ayres Eliot. One hundred years after the original printing, OHS is proud to display all 55 Horsfall illustrations preserved in our museum collection alongside information about the individual birds depicted in each painting. 

Another popular current exhibition, Portland Past and Present, pairs historical photographs from OHS’s research library paired with contemporary photographs taken by Peter Marbach, to illustrate how major architectural and geographic features in Portland have, or have not, changed over time. Portland Past and Present is on view through July 7.

The History of Oregon Statehood

Oregon’s statehood is a complex legacy that should be acknowledged, reckoned with, and commemorated. Oregon joined the Union 165 years ago in 1859, yet unlike any other state that preceded it, Oregon did so as the only state to ratify a constitution that excluded Black residents from citizenship. “Oregon Statehood Day and the History of Exclusion,” a post on OHS’s Dear Oregon blog, explores that history through the lens of Letitia Carson’s life — the only known Black woman in Oregon to successfully secure a land claim under the Homestead Act of 1863. Her life and pursuits are part of the larger legacy of resistance, resilience, and courage of Black people in Oregon. 

Though separated by more than 150 years and circumstances, those being naturalized on Oregon Statehood Day and the Black people living in Oregon when it joined the Union are connected by a shared desire to belong and to be recognized for their contributions to the prosperity of both Oregon and the United States. Understanding Oregon’s history of exclusion, Black history, and its impact on democracy and citizenship is vital to understanding Oregon’s past, present, and future. 

Source: Oregon Historical Society

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