First Advisor

Katrine Barber

Term of Graduation

Summer 2022

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History







Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 136 pages)


1898 marked the beginning of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines and the formation of the Oregon Historical Society (OHS), an organization that would later inherit a vast collection of Philippine and Spanish war booty from the defunct Battleship Oregon Museum. This thesis will explore the meaning of this war booty by recreating the context around its collection, accession, interpretation, and later descent into obscurity, drawing on the Battleship Oregon Collection of the OHS Research Library and institutional records of the OHS Museum as well as secondary sources that explore the colonial context around museum collecting. The first chapter will show how the Philippine-American War, 19th century traditions of wartime looting, and museum display in the early 20th century are tied together by a common thread of American imperialism. The second chapter will scrutinize the battleship Oregon’s years in Portland as a floating war museum, demonstrating that the ship's controversial presence was tied to the contentious place the wars in the Philippines held in the American public memory. Chapter Two will also analyze the Battleship Oregon Museum’s collecting practices, which at the organization's peak created one of the most significant collections--perhaps the most significant collection--of Philippine-American War booty in the country. The collection's transfer to OHS in 1959 following the Battleship Oregon Museum's dissolution will be the subject of Chapter Three. This chapter will follow the collection's fragmentation and partial neglect as a result of the collecting and display standards of the intervening decades, concluding with my experience discovering and documenting what remains of the Battleship Oregon collection as an OHS staff member from 2017 to 2020. The rediscovery of these materials at a time when OHS is incorporating decolonization into its institutional values does not conclude the narrative but encourages its examination within the context of the continuing legacy of U.S. imperialism in the Philippines.


© 2022 Silvie M. Andrews

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