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Looking Back..

by Joe Donlon

Bio | Email | Follow: @pdxpeacock

Posted on January 23, 2009 at 8:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:32 PM

Oregon is celebrating a birthday next month, and we're joining the party. On February 14, 2009, Oregon will mark 150 years of statehood. As part of the sesquicentennial celebration, KGW is airing stories each weekend, highlighting some of the defining moments in our State's history.

In the first installment, we took you back to 1990 - for an election 'first.' Voters selected Barbara Roberts as the State's first female Governor. The next week, we celebrated Martin Luther King's birthday - by looking back at his only visit to Portland, in 1961. We talked with 90-something year old Willie Mae Hart, who met with King during that visit. Her stories were captivating and compelling.

This week, we're marking the Presidential Inauguration, by looking back at a milestone for women voters. The suffrage movement lasted some 70 years, and an Oregonian was instrumental in that fight. Abigail Scott Duniway arrived in Oregon by wagon train at the age of 17. She went on to become the single most important westerner in the suffrage movement.

I'm doing my best to link these stories, as closely as possible, with their corresponding anniversaries. That would put the New Carissa on our docket next, followed by the 1996 floods.

I'm always amazed at the old film and video in our library. And I want to take this opportunity to thank Newschannel 8 director Paul Kenney - for helping me track down what we need for each story. No one in the building knows that library like Paul.

I also want to thank Rachel Schoening and the wonderful staff at the Historical Society. We had to scramble last week, when we couldn't find our film of the MLK visit from 1961. One call, and about an hour later - Rachel and the talented staff at OHS had their hands on several still images from that visit, along with a number of newspaper articles.

Every time I deal with the OHS, I'm amazed at what an incredible resource it is. The amount of material in that facility is nothing short of stunning.

I am excited about this project, because I know how much our viewers appreciate this State's rich history, especially when coupled with old film and still images that take them back in time.

We have compiled a long list of stories that we feel should be covered, but if you have any thoughts or suggestions - drop me an email.

Happy birthday, Oregon! Here's to 150 great years of statehood.