History Pub

Developed by Holy Names Heritage Center, History Pub is a collaborative program of the Heritage Center, Oregon Historical Society, and McMenamins. Programs feature a presentation by an expert from fields including history, journalism, and women's studies. Whenever possible, individuals who participated in or were affected by the events share their memories as part of the program. The voices of historical participants add a unique perspective to the discussion of these important issues.

History Pub is designed to increase public understanding of historical events that have shaped the past and their continued implications for the present and future. The series explores lesser-known historical events and the important roles minority groups have played in the Northwest and encourages participants to consider the ways social, cultural, and political forces affect individuals, communities and physical places.

The series is held at the historic McMenamins' Kennedy School in northeast Portland. Where else can you hear fascinating history while enjoying a slice of pizza and a frosty pint of handcrafted ale? History Pub appeals to a broad audience and is also family-friendly. This innovative program typically draws a crowd of 150 people each month.

Holy Rollers: The Crazy Oregon Cult That Wasn't Rajneeshpuram

May 20, 2019 7PM (one week early!)

Decades before the events at Rajneeshpuram, another small town in Oregon was gripped with scandal when a charismatic, apocalyptic cult leader took possession of the hearts and minds of the women who chose to follow him. In this story that reminds us of the tragedies of Waco, Jonestown and the Manson Family, what began in Corvallis in 1903 would end in gunfire, murder and suicide on the streets of Portland.

Actor, antiquarian, and storyteller Alastair Morley Jaques studied Theatre Arts and American Literature at the Evergreen State College and the University of Oregon. He has appeared in a professional capacity on stages all along the West Coast in Shakespearean and contemporary roles, as well as lending his talents to numerous commercial voice overs on radio and television. A born and bred Oregonian, he is perhaps best known to Bend audiences for his wildly successful one person show An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe. An avid reader and collector of stories and artifacts pertaining to the strange, eldritch, and arcane, he lives in Portland, Oregon, and spends much of his time in a bell tower overlooking a crypt and a columbarium.

Crash Course: The Portland Air Disaster That Made and Changed History

April 29, 2019 7PM

Accidents don’t just happen. On a cold winter night in 1978, an out-of-fuel DC8 passenger jet with 189 aboard crash landed in a suburban neighborhood on East Burnside. Ten people lost their lives. The pilot was blamed and stripped of his career and a sweeping transformation of flight crew training took place that made United Flight 173 (in)famous as the model for failure and change. That was only part of the story. Hiding in plain sight for years in an attorney’s file boxes, the forgotten truths of the landmark air disaster revealed much more: an emotional journey tethered to the disgraced pilot and a three-year-old survivor named Lisa who became an unlikely hero for justice and public safety in the legal battle that followed. This is the long-overdue, true story of a misunderstood airline disaster that forever changed the lives of those on board and countless others.

Speaker Julie Whipple is an award-winning journalist and educator from Portland, Oregon. She holds an MFA in creative writing with an emphasis on nonfiction. She has worked as a reporter in Kenya and Tanzania where she was the East-African correspondent for the London-based, weekly news magazine Africa Economic Digest. In the United States, her work has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, The Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal and Portland Monthly Magazine. Crash Course, her first book, has been featured on KOIN 6 News, KATU 2, KBOO Radio, and The Oregonian. She is a member of the Authors Guild and PEN America.

Crisis on the Columbia: Making A Difference at Mid-Century

March 25, 2019 7PM

The Native fishing community of Celilo Village was in crisis following WWII. Large dams, highway widening, and federal policies of termination and relocation conspired to remove Indian people from a place their families had occupied for more than 12,000 years. Stepping into this maelstrom were two women from very different backgrounds. Together, they forged an alliance that made a difference. Flora Thompson and her husband, Chief Tommy Thompson, fought to protect fish drying sheds, fishing stations, and Celilo Village homes for decades. Joining her was Marth Ferguson McKeown, a high school English teacher, community activist, and author of several local histories, including two children's stories about the Thompsons. Their remarkable friendship can be traced through dozens of letters recently unearthed in the University of Oregon archives. Their intertwined stories illustrate the importance of cross-cultural alliances at a transformative period in Northwest history.  

An illustrated presentation by author Katy Barber will be followed by a Q&A session featuring Linda Meanus (Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation), who is Flora Thompson’s granddaughter and the protagonist of Martha Ferguson McKeown’s Linda’s Indian Home. Dr. Katy Barber is a professor of History at Portland State University where she teaches Western U.S., Pacific Northwest, and Public History courses. Her previous books include Death of Celilo Falls and Nature's Northwest: The North Pacific Slope in the 20th Century with William Robbins. 

My-Te Fine Merchant: Fred Meyer's Retail Revolution

February 25, 2019 7PM

Fred G. Meyer is one of Oregon’s greatest entrepreneurs and a national leader in the “one-stop-shopping” phenomenon that merged full-line grocery stores with clothes, shoes, hardware, sporting goods, small appliances and many other retail categories. With no more than a grade-school education, Meyer built a multi-state retail empire during a career that spanned nearly 70 years in Portland. Though well-known from his pleasant appearances at store openings, Meyer was an aggressive, relentless retail genius who never spoke of his ethnic history, early business failures, obscure religious beliefs or his family difficulties. Speaker Fred Leeson’s presentation will peel back the layers of this brilliant and multi-dimensional personality.

Fred Leeson was a newspaper reporter for nearly 40 years for the Oregon Journal and Oregonian in Portland. His journalistic assignments included local governments, courts, business news and Portland neighborhood issues. He reported on the sale of Fred Meyer Inc. after Meyer’s death and multiple lawsuits that followed it. After retiring from the newspaper, he learned of a trove of Meyer-related transcripts and memorabilia that had been kept at the Oregon Historical Society. This prompted his research for his book, My-Te Fine Merchant; Fred Meyer’s Retail Revolution.

The Boys in the Boat: A Daughter Remembers

January 28, 2019 7PM

The critically acclaimed non-fiction novel The Boys in Boat, by Daniel James Brown, celebrates the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team – nine working class boys from the Pacific Northwest who stormed the rowing world, transformed the sport, and galvanized the attention of millions of Americans. Join us for an explanation of the book’s genesis and stories from the Judy Willman, the daughter of Joe Rantz, one of those working class boys who made history.

This presentation will begin with a little history on how the book was “born” and covers some of the process involved in its writing. Our speaker will take a brief biographical look at each of the boys and include both a reading from the book and film footage of the actual Olympic race taken from Leni Riefenstahl’s period documentary movie Olympia. Willman will then share what Joe Rantz was like as a father, touch on his later life, and probe the question of why the book has had such an impact on those who read it. A slideshow of historical pictures accompanies the talk.

Judy Rantz Willman is the daughter of Joe Rantz. She grew up in Lake Forest Park, Washington, and graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics Education. She and her husband, Ray, live on five acres outside of Redmond accompanied by two horses and two cats. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Judy sings in the choir at Washington Cathedral in Redmond, Washington, and is a member of an adult drama group. She writes short stories and essays and has been published several times in national magazines. She also won awards in international writing competitions.She will happily autograph any books brought to the event by audience members. 

Notable Women of Portland: From Native Americans to Pioneers to WWII

November 26, 2018 7PM

The story of Portland, Oregon, like much of history, has usually been told with a focus on male leaders. This presentation offers a reframing of Portland's history-- including information on 10,000 years of Native American women, pioneer women, women of the Progressive Era, WWI, WWII, and post-war women, with additional tales of women in the arts and women in politics. Hear how these women made their mark and radically changed the Oregon frontier. This presentation, based on author Tracy Prince’s latest book, Notable Women of Portland, will give you an in-depth understanding of women, throughout history, credited for making Portland what it is today.

Tracy J. Prince, Ph.D., Affiliated Research Professor at Portland State University’s American Indian Teacher Program, is the author of Portland’s Goose Hollow and Culture Wars in British Literature and co-author of Portland’s Slabtown. She and her daughter Zadie Schaffer (a 10th grader at Lincoln High School) were inspired by fascinating nuggets of Portland history to shine more light on the women who shaped Oregon.

Committed: The Home Front in Oregon in WWI, 1914-1918

October 29, 2018 7PM

When most Americans think of World War I they imagine it to be an era of strong leaders, brave soldiers, bloody battles, and heroic generals. Instead, in this presentation, Mr. Stack will be focusing on the home front in Portland and Oregon during 1914 – 1918, and will show how the average Portlander, and Oregonian, was affected by the war in their lives.

During the presidential election of 1916, Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the theme of “He kept us out of war.” By April, 1917, however, the United States was embroiled in World War I. This presentation will show how Americans were affected by the Espionage and Sedition Acts that were passed in 1917 and 1918. People impacted by these laws nationally and locally were activists, immigrants, persons of color, political parties, and labor unions. In addition, public opinion was manipulated by the federal government in order to garner support for the war on the part of Americans. Moreover, this presentation will show how Portland and Oregon gained population during the war and the effect that World War I had on the shipbuilding and timber industries. Finally, Mr. Stack will offer a brief summary of the post-World War I era and the effects both nationally and locally during the 1920s of the “Red Scare” and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States.

William Stack is a seasoned educator and an independent local historian. He has taught at the middle school, high school, and college levels. In addition, he has written and had published Historic Photos of Oregon and articles on President John Adams, Astoria businessman George Flavel, and highway builder Glenn Jackson. He is currently at work on an article on World War I on the home front.

Happy Canyon: A History of the World's Most Unique Indian Pageant and Wild West Show

September 24, 2018 7PM

For over a century, Happy Canyon, the night show of the Pendleton Round-Up, has brought together families, friends, and strangers to witness a joyous celebration of local Pendleton history. The spirit of the Old West and the beauty of tribal life unfolds like a Western Brigadoon each September. With a passion to see Happy Canyon’s story told, Becky Fletcher Waggoner will reveal how the show began, the six-generation family participation, and the beauty of the show’s Native American and non-Native American culture from Eastern Oregon, including the key livestock. As the story unfolds, you’ll discover both Happy Canyon’s history and the entertaining stories that have occurred over the years.

Becky Waggoner of Pilot Rock, Oregon, is a fourth generation Happy Canyon Show participant and Round-Up volunteer and a fifth generation resident of Umatilla County. Besides cattle ranching and working part-time for Mautz & O'Hanlon, LLP, Becky loves to research history.

Becky began volunteering in the show at the age of three, coming out of the trunk. She has played several roles in the show over the years and now plays the part of the nurse in the Doctor Act. Out of her love of the show and its colorful history, Becky recently authored Happy Canyon: A History of the World's Most Unique Indian Pageant and Wild West Show.

Becky and her husband, Allen, former Happy Canyon Show Director and President, have three children, Kyle, Kaleigh and Riley—all fifth generation Happy Canyon volunteers and actors. On with the show!