About the Oregon Encyclopedia

Pear blossoms, Mt Hood, 1940


Mission Statement

The purpose of the Oregon Encyclopedia of History and Culture is to provide definitive, authoritative information about all aspects of the State of Oregon, including significant individuals, places, cultures, institutions, events, and peoples.


Project Description

The Oregon Encyclopedia is part of the Oregon Historical Society's Digital History Projects, in partnership with Portland State University and the Oregon Council of Teachers of English. The OE has also been supported by the Oregon Cultural Trust through the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, Willamette University, and the Oregon State Library.

Oregon's history and culture are dynamic, and the Encyclopedia is designed to expand and grow as new material is developed and new web-based features are created. Through its website and in communities and classrooms across the state, The Oregon Encyclopedia will be the authoritative and creative resource on all things Oregon—a substantive and lasting recognition of the state's sesquicentennial.

The Oregon Encyclopedia includes:

  • Entries and essays on the significant people, events, places, institutions, and biota from 10,000 years ago to the present
  • Essays and entries on ethnic groups and communities throughout Oregon's history
  • Entries on art, architecture, literature, performing arts, music, and popular culture
  • Images, documents, and maps
  • Essays that add new perspective to issues and events
  • Special sections for teachers and students


History of the OE

The Oregon Encyclopedia (The OE) began in 2005, when William Lang, Christopher Zinn, and Marianne Keddington-Lang sketched out a general plan for the compilation and publication of a one-volume Oregon Encyclopedia of History & Culture. By 2006, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the History Department at Portland State University had agreed to support the development of the project, including support for graduate students to work on the project. In 2007, with initial work completed, including organization of an Editorial Advisory Board and compilation of several thousand potential entry topics, OE received support from the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Historical Society, and PSU’s President’s Office to launch the work. By 2007, the project’s volunteer staff included three Editors-in-Chief (William Lang, Ulrich Hardt, and Linda Tamura), a Managing Editor (Marianne Keddington-Lang), and a twenty-three-member Editorial Advisory Board, with representation of most sections of Oregon and a broad range of special knowledge. An experienced development specialist, Sherry Manning, helped outline a fundraising plan.

With significant financial support from the Chancellor’s Office of the Oregon University System and from the Oregon Council for the Humanities, OE began a series of community meetings around the state to engage local experts and interested citizens in expanding the contents of the Encyclopedia. OE also decided to commit to a fully online publishing effort rather than a one-volume print publication. Since 2008, Will Garrick, Manager of Academic and Research Computing in PSU’s Office of Information Technology, has directed the construction of OE’s website. The website design includes complex editorial and review procedures that are fully online, making the project paperless. The process involved multiple steps, from selection of entry topics to fact checking, expert review, editing, and final publication. Funding supported hiring two part-time positions—Data Manager (Nicholas Johnson) and Editorial Coordinator (Peggy Lindquist). PSU graduate students that took on fact-checking and assigned research tasks include Val Ballestrem, Heather Burmeister, Lucy Jensen, Amy Platt, Don Sederstrom, Emily Stuckman, Melissa Swank, and John Swann.

In 2008, Oregon Council of the Teachers of English (OCTE) joined OE as the third project partner, along with the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) and PSU. In addition to an ongoing financial contribution to The OE, OCTE secured funding from the Oregon Heritage Commission and the federal Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA), administered by the Oregon State Library. Willamette University contributed financial support annually for the Encyclopedia (2009-2014). The Editorial Board meets twice a year, held alternately at the Oregon Historical Society and Western Oregon University.

By 2009, The OE employed 1.5 FTE with grant funding, OCTE contributions, PSU financial support, and donations from citizens. James Hillegas (2009-2011) served as Image and Editorial Coordinator, Amy Platt manages the website and developed community programs as Project Relations Coordinator, and Tania Hyatt-Evenson handled media relations and grant research as Community Relations and Outreach Coordinator. LSTA grant-funded projects included community meetings throughout the state; and through a partnership with McMenamins Pubs, OE presented OE History Nights at Mission Theater, Cornelius Pass Roadhouse, and Edgefield in the Portland Metro area, and Old St. Francis Pub in Bend. In 2012, PSU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences ceased direct financial support for The OE. The Oregon Historical Society, which provides images from its collections for The OE, became the project's home  in 2013, hiring of a Project Manager for the site. 

The OE staff includes Ulrich Hardt, Jeff LaLande, and Linda Tamura, Editors-in-Chief; Marianne Keddingtion-Lang, Managing Editor; Amy Platt, Project Manager; and Tania-Hyatt-Evenson, Image and Editorial Coordinator.