Tag Archives: Portland

The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition: Portland’s “World’s Fair”

The Sunday Oregonian, August 27, 1905

World’s Fairs are an unforgettable event in a city’s history, bringing scores of tourists, revenue and prestige for years after the fair.  If you’ve ever seen Meet Me in St. Louis, you’ve experienced Hollywood’s take on the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904.  If you’ve ever wondered what the reality of a fair might look like, you can search many historic U.S. newspapers of the era at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ for first and second-hand accounts of U.S. World’s Fairs.

In 1905, Portland, Oregon joined the illustrious list of cities that have sponsored a “World’s Fair” event.  Although it was commonly referred to as a World’s Fair, it was not in fact recognized as one by the Bureau of International Expositions.  Instead, it was an exposition dedicated to the centennial year of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For four and a half months, Portland was host to 1.5 million visitors at the fairgrounds constructed for that purpose along the Willamette River.  You can read about the goals and plans for the fair in this article from the New Year’s Day edition of The Morning Oregonian, “The Great Lewis and Clark Exposition: 1805-1905.”

If you’re curious to know more about Portland’s “World Fair,” you can find a wealth of information in the pages of historic Oregon newspapers at the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program‘s website.  Nearly every aspect of the Exposition was covered by newspapers of the time, including economic, cultural and political perspectives.  I’ve listed a few interesting articles to pique your interest, but the amount of information on this incredible event is astounding, so get in there and do some searching! (For a brief overview of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, you can also visit the Oregon Encyclopedia’s entry on the fair.)

You can also find more images of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in the shared OSU/UO Digital Collections website, like this photo of the States Building, or this colorful postcard of the Agricultural Building.

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The New Northwest added to Historic Oregon Newspapers!

The Oregon Digital Newspaper Program is excited to announce the addition of Portland’s historic suffragist newspaper The New Northwest to our free online collection of digitized and keyword-searchable content at Historic Oregon Newspapers!

Portland the New Northwest, June 8, 1877

Front page of Portland's the New Northwest, June 8, 1877

For sixteen years, between 1871 and 1887, The New Northwest blazed a progressive and iconoclastic trail, bringing much-needed attention to controversial issues such as suffrage, worker’s rights, temperance, racial inequality, civil liberties, immigration, and human rights.  The paper advocated tirelessly for the equal rights of American Indians and Chinese immigrants even as the general press remained openly hostile to such causes.  Most famously, the paper was instrumental in agitating for the nascent women’s suffrage movement in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to its influential and highly political journalistic content, The New Northwest also served as a significant publisher of quality literary content.  Poems, serialized fiction, and literary non-fiction reflecting the newspaper’s progressive political stance were published alongside regional and national news.  Following a change in ownership in 1887, the paper continued for another two years as a purely literary journal.

The uncommonly forward-thinking agenda of this firebrand newspaper was coordinated under the guidance of Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon’s “Mother of Equal Suffrage”.  Duniway saw The New Northwest as an instrument of social change, a tool for the “[e]nfranchisment of women and full emancipation of speech, press and people from every fetter of law or custom that retards the free mental and physical growth of the highest form of humanity.”

Though women’s suffrage in Oregon was not to become a reality during the run of The New Northwest, Duniway would continue to fight tirelessly for the cause.  In 1912, following a lifetime of struggle, Duniway was asked by Governor Oswald West to author and sign the Oregon Proclamation of Equal Suffrage.  This historic and hard-won victory was sealed when Duniway registered, at the age of 79, as the first female voter in Multnomah County.

Abigail Scott Duniway.  Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Abigail Scott Duniway. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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