Rock Creek 2.0

Hi everyone… Liza Schade, Collections Manager here!

Doesn’t it feel like winter came early this year?? We sure hope all our members and guests are staying warm and getting prepared to layer up! Don’t forget to unscrew your garden hoses to keep the pipes from freezing, buy or cut some firewood to save on energy costs and think about insulators for your windows. Stock up on lots of candles too, since the crazy winds are beginning to sweep through the Columbia River Gorge.

Well! I have a rather long laundry list of news bits for everyone and I’m excited to share!

There have been tons of exciting things going on over the last two months, both at Rock Creek and over in Hillsboro. Here’s a list of what we’ve been up to lately:

1) After summer term ended, we became short on volunteers for the collections inventory project. So, I ran out and posted flyers all over PSU and PCC campuses and sent a group email to a bunch of my prior professors from PSU. You wouldn’t believe the response! I really want to take this opportunity to thank some new people for joining my quest to update our collection: James Burke, Jenna Barganski, Dianna Wilson, Ken Coleman, and Rachael Zwyer. Your help will really get the inventory moving along and you are all doing an amazing job!

2) In October, we were excited to discover a few old documents to help out our local researchers, Kris and Ken Bilderback. On Oct. 15th, they came to the museum for our “Dial M for Murder” night. Ken told several stories about mysterious court cases from Washington County, but one in particular caught my eye because I knew we had documents to go with one of their cases involving a prisoner who had killed a farmer and framed it on his neighbor. Sure enough, we were able to find and show to the crowd the neighbor’s denial testimony, the court indictment, a hand drawn crime scene map, and an invitation to the actual murderer’s execution! WE are still working with the Bilderback’s to try and help them find information about the sheriff involved with the case. You never know what you can find in an archive!

3) On October 18th, I had the great pleasure to work at the Portland Archives Crawl. I was the very first table at the entrance of Oregon Historical Society, so I got to be among the very first to talk to the public as they streamed in. It was so exciting to talk with people as passionate about their own projects as I was about mine. I was able to secure a couple of volunteers and even made a new partner on a research idea I’ve had brewing for awhile. Starting soon, Jennifer Greenwood and I will be working together on a project linking our old Washington County jail register to patient records at the old Oregon State Mental Hospital, which has now been converted into a museum and memorial. Anyway, I hope those of you that attended the Crawl had as much fun as I did and got some really great resources for research!

4) On October 24th, I went back over to OHS and attended their Society of American Archivists workshop. It was a day packed full of amazing information about everything from conservation and preservation of archival materials to handling donations professionally and proper accessioning techniques. I even earned myself 0.75 SAA credit, which is always a great bonus.

5) Last but most importantly, we have been working like crazy lately to install our new exhibits and we are so excited for everyone to see them.

Last week, we finished and opened “Washington County Goes to War,” which features military uniforms, artifacts, and personal documents from both world wars. The best thing about doing that exhibit was discovering what we had in our own collection! I poured through Verne McKinney’s war diary and John Crandall’s letters home to his father, feeling as though I was right there with them during WWI. It was such an honor, especially with Veteran’s Day this week. We even set out a scrapbook for people to write down their own family or personal war stories, as they walk through the exhibit, which lets some of the more modern experiences come to light as well.

Just yesterday, we finished installing “Seeking Silence,” some amazing Oregon landscapes on cotton print, taken by photographer Russell Young. His beautiful pictures help to transition perfectly into our new botanical exhibit, “In the Footsteps of David Douglas,” who named many of our own Oregon plants.

It was just brought up to us from the Bush Barn Art Center in Salem by their amazing gallery director Catherine Alexander. We were happy to loan some of our own artifacts to her for her exhibit, which she has now returned to us to include in this one. It’s all about collaboration and service!

Soon, we will install one more exhibit called “All I Want for Christmas,” which will feature some of our the old antique toys, dolls, and games from generations past. Monopoly from 1937, different kinds of old marbles, a Scarlett O’Hara doll, lead soldiers, toy fire trucks and much more! This will be a great exhibit for collectors and families alike.

I almost forgot! Some people may not know that we have now officially started construction on our PCC Rock Creek building. As a collections manager, I cannot be more happy to see the work starting. It will be incredible to have a huge new storage facility and archive, where we can be climate controlled and have space to prepare exhibits and do conservation. The next few months may get a little stressful with all the noise and moving things around, but it will be so worth it in the long run! I hope we can make a more comfortable place for staff and the public to do research and make new discoveries!

Thanks all and have a great fall season. Stay warm out there!