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During Winter term 2023, Oregon Black Pioneers, PSU Black Studies, PSU Library Special Collections, and Oregon Historical Society partnered to create a public archive from a collection of family photographs discovered in a residence in the historically Black Portland neighborhood of Albina.

The photos, which provide rare visual evidence of the African American great migration, the wartime city of Vanport, and life within Portland's Black community during the 1940s through the 1970s, were donated to Oregon Black Pioneers in 2018.

The archives project was carried out by four students in Professor Walidah Imarisha's Black Studies course: Jeff Donaldson-Forbes, Kay Johnson, Alana Krubl, and Hailey Machlan. The students worked with Portland State University Library Special Collections to organize, describe, and digitize the photographs. In addition to their digital preservation work, the students researched the historical context of the photo collection as a record of Black life in Portland during the mid-20th century.

On March 22, 2023, the students shared their research and their hands-on experiences in digital preservation at a public event presented by PSU Black Studies. The students' presentations were introduced by Professor Walidah Imarisha (PSU Black Studies), Zachary Stocks (Oregon Black Pioneers), and Carolee Harrison (PSU Library Special Collections).

In summer 2023, the Oregon Historical Quarterly, edited by Eliza Canty-Jones of the Oregon Historical Society, will feature the students' research and reflections on working with this collection.

The collection:

Oregon Black Pioneers Historic Photograph Collection

For more information, please contact or visit the Oregon Black Pioneers website.




Held at the Portland State University Library and recorded on Zoom, March 22, 2023.


This video is made available for educational and non-commercial use only. It may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Portland State University. For more information, please contact Portland State University Library Special Collections at: or (503) 725-9883.

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