Oregon State Rep. Margaret Carter leading the Black United Front's annual March Against Racist Violence, April 4, 1992 (OHS digital image bd001402) Julie Keefe photo
More than 1,000 images from North and Northeast Portland history, taken over the past 40 years by staff at The Skanner News, have been archived at the Oregon Historical Society.
The images, black and white shots of people, places and events of all kinds, are available for historians and history buffs at the Oregon Historical Society's Davies Family Research Library.
While the photographs are not posted online, historical archivists can follow a written guide on how they are arranged, using the number codes for each of the 1,500 images to request copies from OHS.
“It’s the preservation of a history,” says The Skanner News Publisher Bernie Foster. “We think this doesn’t just belong to The Skanner News, it belongs to everyone.”
The archive provides an unusual visual record of African American life in the Pacific Northwest from the late 1970s to the 1990s.
Subjects include civil rights and housing discrimination protests throughout the late 1970s and 1980s; movements for community empowerment and political representation; educational initiatives; community groups and organizations; churches and religious issues; and the flourishing of African American culture in general.
The archive was kicked off last week with a special event featuring The Skanner News photographer Julie Keefe, Bernie and Bobbie Foster, archivists and OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk.
Most of the images were taken by Keefe, former staffer Dean Guernsey (now the photo editor at the Bend Bulletin newspaper), Neil Heilprin, and David Minick.
The Skanner News’ Seattle photos are not included, but that trove of images – many taken by Seattle photographer Susan Fried – also number in the thousands and have already been featured in a photographic art installation there.
The Oregon Historical Society’s holdings on Oregon's African American history now include the archive of Portland's Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church and oral histories of residents of the Albina neighborhood.
OHS also recently acquired a rare photograph album with portraits of African American notables from the 1880s and 1890s.
The opening of The Skanner News archive also coincides with the Society's newest exhibit, A Community on the Move, created by the Oregon Black Pioneers, which explores how the WWII shipyards, migration from the South, the Vanport flood, and urban renewal projects impacted Portland's black families and businesses.
The Skanner News was founded in 1975 and quickly became one of the strongest voices of Portland's African American communities. With the inauguration of its Seattle edition in 1990 its coverage expanded to encompass the entire region.
The newspaper’s longtime publishers, Bobbie Dore Foster and Bernie Foster, have received hundreds of awards for their outstanding work in journalism.
The project was made possible by a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; the collection has been professionally processed by archivists Jack Falk and Jeffrey Hayes.
The organizational guide to the archive is online at the Northwest Digital Archives database (http://nwda.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv36972), showing the full breadth of this collection.