history

House of Representatives

Duncan Lee is not a household name, but he probably should be. 

In an age when Americans feared Soviet spies in their midst, he was one.  A spy, that is... and he spied for a very long time, somehow avoiding prison for his deeds. 

Duncan Lee's story is told by Mark A. Bradley in the book A Very Principled Boy

Betty Halbreich did not invent the concept of the personal shopper, but it can be argued that she perfected it. 

New York's swanky Bergdorf Goodman store put her to work picking out clothing for customers to choose from, rather than ransacking the racks themselves. 

Betty became legendary, a story she tells in her memoir I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist

From a postcard, 1909

Just as social media and texting tie people together today, letters were critical in helping people communicate in the early days of our country. 

And pretty much the only way to get a letter to a faraway place was to send it through the mail. 

So the post office was like the Internet of its time, a point Winifred Gallagher brings home in her book How the Post Office Created America.  Created?  It's not too strong a case, she says. 

University of Oregon

We have mixed feelings in our country about refugees who arrive on our shores seeking a safe place far from wars. 

But we forget that human beings in our own region felt the same impulse in the middle of the 19th century.  That's when the series of battles and skirmishes collectively known as the Rogue Indian War disrupted life in the region. 

One site of particular interest to archaeologists is the Harris Cabin, near Merlin in Josephine County.  The Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology has studied the site for years now. 

It is the focus of this month's edition of "Underground History." 

Wikimedia

Anybody alive in 1966 probably remembers the line "silver wings... upon their chest." 

It's a line from Staff Sgt. Barry Sadler's number one hit song "The Ballad of the Green Berets." 

The patriotic ode to the military made Sadler briefly famous and rich.  Neither condition lasted, as author Marc Leepson points out in a book about Sadler's frequently troubled life, Ballad of the Green Beret: The Life and Wars of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler

Department of Defense/Public Domain

You'll bum out a lot of older Americans when you point out that the "summer of love" was 50 years ago. 

It was an exciting and pivotal year in American history, and the year Danny Goldberg graduated from high school. 

He includes his own experiences and broadens the focus in his memoir, In Search of The Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea.

The music, the Vietnam War, the civil rights struggle and more are mixed in with personal memories of 1967 in the book. 

White House Photo Office/Wikimedia

William F. Buckley was not just the best-known conservative thinker of his time, he was asked for formulate policy based on his conservative views. 

Several presidents sought Buckley's advice, and he was close friends with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. 

Alvin Felzenberg, who served two presidents himself, revisits WFB's administrative influence in the book A Man and His Presidents: The Political Odyssey of William F. Buckley Jr. 

National Archives

So many flights, so many accomplishments for Amelia Earhart. 

And so little evidence to clearly indicate what happened to her when she disappeared, almost exactly 80 years ago. 

The Archaeological Legacy Institute based in Eugene wants to observe the 80th anniversary of Earhart's last flight next month by visiting the island where she may have crashed. 

Wikimedia

Frances Stroh had it all growing up.  She was a rich kid, the heiress to the Stroh Brewing fortune. 

Then the economy of urban Detroit collapsed, beer tastes changed, and the family's fortunes went quickly south. 

It got ugly, a story Stroh tells frankly in her memoir, Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss

JFK Library/Wikimedia

The late John Kenneth Galbraith is generally regarded as a liberal economist, but his story is quite a bit more complicated than that, and more than 97 years long.

Galbraith served under four presidents, wrote dozens of books, and worked for half a century at Harvard.

And now we get to read his mail, courtesy of a Southern Oregon University professor. Economics professor Ric Holt is the editor of The Selected Letters of John Kenneth Galbraith, epistles to world leaders, journalists, famous authors, and political opponents (like William F. Buckley).

Wikimedia Commons

Perusing the vast collections of the Oregon Historical Society does not require a trip to Portland. 

You will have to make your way to a computer, but you're already there, right?  OHS just flung open the doors of its new online Digital Collections Site, containing photographs and documents and oral histories and more. 

OHS Digital Archivist Mathieu Deschaine and his staff got the project on its feet. 

Lindbergh Foundation

Flying across the Atlantic in a plane is no big deal these days, apart from the cramped seats in coach. 

90 years ago, it was A Very Big Deal.  Charles Lindbergh took his life in his hands as he flew a single-engine plane from New York to France in 1927. 

Dan Hampton, an accomplished and decorated fighter pilot, tells the story of Lindbergh's dangerous and successful mission in the book The Flight: Charles Lindbergh's Daring and Immortal 1927 Transatlantic Crossing

Wikimedia

Norma Paulus was a key figure in Oregon politics in the 70s and 80s, and ran for governor in 1986. 

She missed there, but she was Oregon's first female secretary of state and later served as state school superintendent. 

Her years in the limelight are told in her book The Only Woman in the Room: The Norma Paulus Story

Jan Wright

John Beeson benefitted from the removal of Native Americans from the Rogue Valley, like many white settlers in the mid-19th century. 

What he did next makes him a bit different: Beeson took up a second career as an advocate for Native Americans, leaving his Talent farm and family behind to push for better treatment for indigenous people. 

Historian Jan Wright is working on a book about Beeson and trying to crowdfund it

heatherannthompson.com

Three Exchange guests from the last couple of years turned up on the list of Pulitzer Prize winners recently announced. 

They include Heather Ann Thompson, who won the Pulitzer for history for her book  Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

It's a powerful story of one of the country's best-known, and as it turns out, least understood prison uprisings. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

Ronald Reagan's time as president has become truly legendary. 

EVERYONE seems to have a story about Reagan and his accomplishments, positive and negative. 

Craig Shirley has written several books about Reagan, including the recently published Reagan Rising, about the period from Reagan missing the Republican presidential nomination in 1976 to his victory four years later. 

publicceo.com

The State of Jefferson gets some recognition from the Oregon Historical Society in its latest publication. 

The Oregon Historical Quarterly's latest issue focuses on historical events and research in our corners of Oregon and California. 

The issue itself bears the one-time-only title of "Jefferson Historical Quarterly."  So we talk about some of the work to explore the region in this month's edition of "Underground History." 

In-house archaeologist Chelsea Rose from the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology returns. 

HarperCollins

Politicians are fond of talking about our country's "founding fathers" and what they envisioned for the country. 

The women standing in the shadows of those men had dreams and visions, too.  And some of them even stepped out of the shadows to help guide the young country forward. 

Cokie Roberts of NPR fame wrote of them in the book Founding Mothers and followed that with a picture book for children, Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies. 

Fox Pictures

Movies about space flight always seem to be strong contenders for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. 

But a movie about math whizzes who made space flight possible?  That is the storyline of Hidden Figures, up for several Oscars on Sunday, February 26th. 

It is based on the true story of African American women whose calculation skills helped people fly into space, detailed in a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. 

She visited with us after the book was finished and as the movie neared completion. 

Writing A Memoir To Organize Your Life

Feb 20, 2017
Yann Dujardin, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28536452

If you sat down to begin writing your memoirs, which stories would you choose to tell the overall story of your life? 

It's an important question, and one Peter Gibb thinks about, deeply.  He wrote his own memoir, King of Doubt, and counsels other people on memoir writing, in a process called Memoir and Mindfulness (M&M--sorry, not the chocolate candy). 

Peter finds the process to a healing one, giving new perspective on life. 

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