HST 399 and the Urban League of Portland Collection

This past Spring term, the students of the history course HST 399: The Civil Rights Movement in Modern America, taught by Professor Marisa Chappell, were tasked with a research assignment to use the Urban League of Portland archival collection to highlight the themes of the course through the lens of the Urban League of Portland’s activism.  

The research assignment was to work in pairs to explore a particular topic related to the history of race relations and African American activism in Portland from the 1940s through the 1980s. Each group was tasked to use approximately eight primary source documents from both the Urban League of Portland Papers and the Oregonian newspaper to then write a short essay about the topic.    

The topics selected included: education, housing, jobs, police relations, and poverty. Below are short descriptions of each paper and links the essays, some of which include scans of the documents cited. If you are intrigued by the topics analyzed and the sources used, be sure to come to the archives to conduct your own research using the collection!

Education

Description of two major programs created to fight the oppression towards people of color: the Adolescent Parent Treatment Program and The Whitney Young Learning Center. Both programs focused on assisting youth. The APTP focus was to target high risk juveniles, mostly males between ages of 12-17.  The WYLC was a free, homework assistance, community based after-school program for grades 7-12.

Housing

Edwin Berry, the president of the Portland Urban League from 1945 to 1969, initiated Portland fair housing reform. This essay focuses on Portland Urban League’s series of meetings in 1955 mainly focusing on the issue of equal housing. 

Jobs

Two ULP reports, one from the 1970s and another from the 1990s, along with various Oregonian articles from the 1960s-1980s. The reports reflect the ULP perspective regarding Affirmative Action and the articles mostly include op-ed pieces and the implementation of the program.

Police Relations – Paper 1 and Paper 2

The first paper uses articles from the Oregonian mostly from 1959. The second paper also uses articles from the Oregonian but mostly from the late 1960s-mid 1980s. Both essays analyze the police relations within the Albina community through the lens of the media. 

Poverty

This paper focuses on the Urban League of Portland’s role in the federal government’s War on Poverty program during the mid to late 1960s. The essay uses Board Meeting Minutes and articles from the Oregonian.

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