Monday, October 22, 2018

The Oregon Archives Crawl Was a Blast!

I am so glad I went to the Oregon Archives Crawl on Saturday!  I had a lot of fun at the three locations talking to archivists, librarians, and others who work in archives and repositories.  Since I'm still pretty new here, it was a great opportunity to learn about what resources are available.

One big difference between the Archives Crawl here and the ones I visited in Sacramento, Califorina is that it is pretty easy to walk between the host insitutions here.  In Sacramento, the hosts were spread out, and you had to drive between them or take the shuttle that was available.  Either way, a lot of your time was taken up traveling between locations, which didn't leave as much time to talk to archivists or look at the cool things on display.

The highlight of my day was at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, the second stop on my rounds.  They had a City of Portland quiz game going on, where you spun a wheel and could win the prize you landed on if you correctly answered a historical question about the city.  I guessed right that Portland's city hall had been bombed at some point in its history, and I won a copy of Portland Memories:  The Early Years, a Pictorial History.  It's a beautiful hardcover coffee-table book with historic photos of Portland covering the late 1800's to 1939.  I also picked up a deck of cards with Oregon historical information from the Oregon State Archives table, and a button with the State Archivist's seal.  How many archivists have their own buttons?!

From an archives/research perspective, I discovered some really interesting repositories in the area.  Probably the most unusual is the Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health.  In this country, mental health information is generally not easily available, so it was surprising to find that the hospital has created this museum to educate people.  Documents and exhibits cover a timeline of the subject in Oregon dating from the 1880's, the training of those who worked at the hospital, spirituality/religion, the history of treatments, therapeutic activities, and children at the hospital (both patients and those of employees and residents), along with oral histories.

One museum that resonated with me personally is the World of Speed Motorsports Museum, which I had not heard of.  (It's only been around for about three years.)  I've written about how I grew up around racetracks and garages because my father was a car mechanic and also raced, so anything about racing catches my attention.  Now I need to plan a trip to Wilsonville so I can see what they have in the museum.

I had a good conversation with Terry Baxter of the Oregon Country Fair Archives, another unusual repository.  The archives holds organizational records, promotional records, fair ephemera, audiovisual records, and donated collections.  Who would have thought that so much would be available about a county fair?  In addition, Terry told me that the archives crawl happens every other year, so now I know why I didn't hear about it last year.

In talking with Terry about the crawl passport, I mentioned that the archives crawl in Sacramento, California has a passport also, where you can get stamps from all the exhibitors and then get a small prize, usually a set of commemorative coasters.  He liked that idea, so maybe at the 2020 archives crawl here we'll be able to earn a small souvenir.

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