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February 12th, 2016

Black History Month honors the significant role African Americans have in our society that is often overlooked in traditional history lessons. Wednesday, February 17th, 2016, author Max G. Geier will have a reading and talk about his book The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West. This book highlights the murder trial of Robert Folkes who was charged with murder in rural Oregon. Folkes’ trial, controversial conviction, and resulting execution provokes thought about race, class, and privilege in Oregon.


Natalia Fernández, Curator and Archivist for the Oregon Multicultural Archives in the Oregon State University Valley Library will also be presenting a new collection of Oregon African American railroad porter oral history interviews. The Oregon Cultural Trust has awarded a $5,000 grant that will enable Oregon State University’s Libraries and Press to transfer these histories to digital form. This grant project will include the creation of a website for the interview audio and transcripts, which will be made available to researchers, students, teachers, and the general public.


“The information gained through the interviews can be used to broaden the level of understanding of how African Americans played a significant role in the social and economic changes to the Portland area and the state as a whole during the 20th century. The stories shared have the potential to deepen public knowledge and appreciation of the African American experience and perspective in Oregon.” Natalia Fernández, Curator and Archivist, Oregon Multicultural Archives.


The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West

Max G. Geier Book Reading and Talk


Wednesday, February, 17th 2016

5:00-6:30 p.m.


Special Collections and Archives Research Center

5th Floor of the Valley Library


Free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.



We are excited to present this event and hope that you will join us! Thanks to Max G. Geier, here is a preview to his book talk:


Working, Race, and Homeland : Divided Lives in the Wartime West

By Dr. Max G. Geier, Professor of History, Emeritus, Western Oregon University


Murder trials, as one social critic famously observed, often reveal more about the community that stages them than about the case on which they are focused. This book (The Color of Night: Race, Railroaders, and Murder in the Wartime West) focuses on a murder and subsequent trial in the mid-Willamette Valley, and those events open a window on how wage-earning workers experienced life in the pre-war and wartime period in the rural northwest. Executioners working for the state of Oregon killed Robert E. Lee Folkes in January 1945, but in the process of killing Folkes, investigating officials working toward that end gathered and preserved information that helps us peer into the background of that man’s life as a common worker in a community of organized labor and political activists. Folkes first attracted public attention in Oregon as a murder suspect who faced trial in Albany during 1943 and then execution in Salem in early 1945. Before that, however, he was a wage-earning man who spent much of his life in Oregon as an employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Like many railroad workers, he lived with a foot in two worlds: a home life in the southern California community of South Central Los Angeles, and an away life on the road aboard trains travelling through northern California and Oregon, terminating in Portland, Oregon, and then returning via the same route. As a Black man born in rural Arkansas, he was a survivor of Jim Crow America. As a railroad worker in the early 1940s, he joined an organized labor movement that pushed back against legal segregation and demanded equal employment opportunities and better working and living conditions for people of color. As a young man who made a living cooking meals for railroad passengers and crew during a period of wartime mobilization, he was a service worker who was not considered a “serviceman” by the people of Linn County who sat as jurors as his trial. As a Black man working in a service job designated defense critical, he was protected from the military draft, but he was not protected from the suspicions of those who assumed he was a shirker or a troublemaker. As a member of a labor union local that was in the midst of contentious contract negotiations with the railroad at the time of the murder, he was a symbol of organized resistance to the wartime speedup and dangerous working conditions that he, and men like him, daily confronted. As a self-starting, accomplished young man with demonstrated success working autonomously and with minimal supervision, he was targeted for special treatment by railroad investigators who were engaged in an organized campaign to break the union and control worker unrest in a period of unprecedented profits for the company. In the campaign to make an example of Folkes, the railroad found ready support among state and county officials, and among local jurors drawn from the farm-owning families of Linn County, Oregon. In killing Folkes, however, they also brought African American men and women into the heart of the county seat. The experience of those men and women in that mid-Valley setting opens a window on race and labor relations at mid-century in and beyond western Oregon.



February 4th, 2016

In his forthcoming book, Reporting the Oregon Story, veteran journalist Floyd McKay documents his time as a reporter and political analyst from 1964 to 1986, when Oregon was undergoing some of it’s biggest changes. Starting with the election of Tom McCall as Secretary of State and Bob Straub as State Treasurer, the “Oregon Story” unfolded at a time when the relationship between politics and media was quite different from today. In the first-ever OSU Press podcast, George P. Griffis intern Liz Pilcher sat down with Floyd McKay at the Oregon Historical Society to discuss Reporting the Oregon Story

Listen here!

January 28th, 2016

Liz Pilcher, the Griffis Publishing Intern at OSU Press, will graduate from OSU this year with a major in Digital Communication Arts. Her experience here at the Press has whetted her appetite for all things publishing-related, and inspired her to apply to the graduate publishing program at Portland State University.

Although OSU Press is the only university press in Oregon, the publishing program at PSU is home to Ooligan Press. Ooligan is a book publisher housed at a university. So why isn’t Ooligan a university press? Books published by university presses are subjected to a rigorous process of peer review --  an indispensible step in our mission to publish important works of scholarship. Ooligan, by contrast, functions much more like a commercial trade publisher, except that the publishing decisions are made by students. In fact, the entire operation is student-run, providing a unique educational laboratory.

In this week’s blog post, Liz talks about her love of books,her visit to the PSU campus, and her impressions of the “Oolies.”


My love for books started before I learned to read. I have fond memories of my mom reading me books before bed and begging her to read them one more time. Of course, it was never just “one more time.” My mom would start reading one of my favorites and make up the story as she went along, tired of reading the same book over and over again. Even though I couldn’t decipher the words on the page, I had memorized the plot so clearly I would cry out, “That’s not how it goes!” and my tired mother would start again, reading the book the way I remembered.

Despite one brief and stubborn stint in elementary school, when I avoided books because I was being told to read, books have always held a warm spot in my heart. Over the years my taste in genres has morphed through Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Romance, and many others. Few things have made me happier than starting a book in the late afternoon after coming home from school, to find myself turning the last page in the early morning hours.

Reading books and writing tend to go hand in hand, and for me, reading books had led me to write fan-fiction. While many look down upon the world of authors who write alternate plots for well-known stories, writing fan fiction gave me a community of writers who supported me and encouraged me to write passionately. Middle school and high school were the perfect years to have friends in fiction and helped me build a foundation I would rely on for years to come.

While I had spent years writing plots based on pre-made universes and evolved into creating worlds of my own, it wasn’t until the summer of my junior year of college that I realized I wanted books to take a more serious role in my life. I had taken a novel writing class with my favorite professor, who, when hearing I was interested in graduate school, encouraged me to look into Portland State University’s Book Publishing program. At the time it was more of a fanciful thought than a potential reality, but after spending a couple months interning for the OSU Press, I realized I had greater plans in mind.

Marty Brown, our Marketing Manager, and my guide and teacher at the OSU Press, put me in contact with Abbey Gaterud and Per Henningsgaard at the Ooligan Press at PSU. Less than a week later, I found myself navigating downtown Portland, hunting for the only parking spot open in the parkade, and wandering around Neuberger Hall to find Room 341. In this room, my Ooligan adventure began.

I met Abbey and Per, who gave me a brief introduction and explanation of the meeting to come. I sat down and looked around a large room full of the students who made up the Ooligan Press. These were the bright minds of the Press whom I aspired to be. As the meeting commenced and the Project Managers gave their quick update reports, I couldn’t help my bubbling excitement. I listened to the various stages of publication these groups were working through and wondered what it would be like to be part of that process. I imagined the day I could speak up for my group and report the progress we had made.

At the end of the Executive Meeting, everyone split off for their individual group meetings and Per introduced me to Hayley. A bright, confident, and warm young woman, Hayley was one of the Project Managers whose group I would be shadowing. Her group was composed of ladies who had been working on Memories Flow in Our Veins: Forty Years of Women’s Writing from CALYX. They discussed their plans for marketing this anthology on Tumblr and designing the ebook; I listened quietly with my own mixture of ideas and attempts to keep up. While I made comments here and there, I resisted my desire to contribute so they could focus on their work.

After the meeting was over, I had the chance to sit with Hayley and a couple of the remaining group members, where I was able to ask all the questions filling my mind. They told me what the program was like from a student’s perspective and described the “Oolies” as the welcoming people I already knew them to be. Witnessing Hayley’s group working first hand was the best experience I could have asked for. They fueled my desire to apply to the program.

Before I left, I was able to meet with Per one-on-one where he answered my questions about the application process and internship experiences available to the students. Although I had already been planning what I’d like to include in my writing sample for a few weeks, gears began to churn in my mind anew.

When I felt as though all my questions had been answered and I was ready to make the long drive back to Corvallis, Per kindly showed me how to get through the maze of hallways. As I rode the elevator down to the ground floor, I couldn’t help but hope I would find myself in this building again as a student in the Fall.

January 14th, 2016

The University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art presents From the Heart: The Photographs of Brian Lanker.

This exhibit features photography from the accompanying book, which includes a collection of essays written by Lanker’s colleagues and friends. His photographs of rural Kansas, sports, the arts, noted African-American women, shoes, and more will be on display for those who wish to experience the world through Lanker’s eyes.

Brian Lanker had an extraordinary way of capturing personal experiences in his series on natural childbirth. These special moments, preserved in time, between mother and child can be cherished over the years. In a collaboration with Maya Angelou, Lanker created portraits of 75 women in academia, the arts, business, politics, sports, and other fields in his series I Dream a World: Black Women Who Changed America (1989). In 2008, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. presented Shall We Dance with a foreword by Maya Angelou. This began as a photo essay for National Geographic, and was transformed into a book celebrating dances and dancers around the world. One of his last projects before his death was 10,000 Years of Shoes.

From the Heart: The Photographs of Brian Lanker will be on view from January 23rd, 2016 to April 24th, 2016.

Opening Receptions: Friday, January 22

JSMA Members 5-6 p.m.| Public 6-8 p.m.


From Photograph to Art Book:

The Making of From the Heart: The Photographs of Brian Lanker

Saturday, January 23rd, 2:00 p.m.

A panel discussion with Brian Lanker’s colleagues: Blaine Newnham, Carl Davaz, Gary Settle with an introduction by Rich Clarkson


Visit http://jsma.uoregon.edu/BrianLanker for full schedule of events!

January 8th, 2016

Writing is no simple task! The process is arduous and requires what can feel like a lifetime of editing and rewriting. Even so, writing a book is only the first step on a long journey to publication. Here at OSU Press, as at all university presses, every book we publish is first subjected to a rigorous peer review process.

When an author submits a proposal or manuscript, our acquisitions editor sends it out to several experts in the field for peer review. If the response is positive, the project is then submitted to our editorial board for approval. The board may approve the proposal or manuscript as is, or they may request revisions and additional peer review. Once the board recommends publication, a publishing contract is offered, the manuscript is delivered, and the book begins its long journey through the editing, design, and production process. Authors must wrestle with such non-writing-related chores as indexing and obtaining photo permissions, all while working through multiple rounds of editing and page proofs before the book obtains its final form and is sent off to the printer.

One of my favorite parts of working for the OSU Press is when the books come back from the printer. I’m so excited when the boxes come and I open them to see the brand new printed books. This is it: the book is ready for others to enjoy.

Our authors create something amazing that doesn’t end with the writing, something that most of us can only dream of doing. With appreciation and awe, we would like to introduce the authors of our Spring 2016 books:


Author: Hob Osterlund