Oregon Encyclopedia, McMenamins team up for lecture series

It turns out, you can go back to school again, without the pressure of grades and with the ability to eat a burger and drink a beer while learning.

The Oregon Encyclopedia continues to educate. The online resource about most things Oregon organizes monthly nights of topical education at McMenamins’ Mission Theater, Edgefield in Troutdale, and another establishment in Bend.

The Oregon Encyclopedia’s next history night will feature William Robbins, an Oregon State University professor and OE editorial board member, who will talk about forest fires in the state in “Season of Smoke and Fire,” Sept. 24, at Edgefield’s Power Station Theater, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale.

The OE, funded by Oregon Humanities, also has instituted a “A Century of Oregon History” series at the Mission. The series began with a packed house Sept. 9 for a lecture on the “1912 Homosexual Controversy.”

by: COURTESY OF OREGON ENCYCLOPEDIA - Former Oregon labor boss David Beck - who made the cover of Time magazine (above) and worked with Jimmy Hoffa (above, left) - will be the subject of Oregon Encyclopedia event Oct. 7 at Mission Theater.The next two lectures at the Mission, 1624 N.W. Glisan St., are also juicy topics: “Teamster Boss: Dave Beck and Labor Racketeering in Oregon” (Oct. 7) and “Remembering Mulugeta Seraw: Portland’s Legacy of Racism and Combating White Supremacy” (Nov. 4).

These are not just tales about the history of Oregon that you can read in textbooks, although one recent Edgefield night focused on Lewis and Clark’s time in the Columbia Gorge. They cover issues and little-known events and time periods that helped shape the state. Lecturers and panelists give the history nights credibility — “A Century of Oregon History” nights feature three panelists.

The Mission Theater history nights take place the first Monday of each month, and at Edgefield they are the last Tuesday of the month. The lectures are free and open to minors. Tania Hyatt-Evenson, community relations and editorial coordinator for The Oregon Encyclopedia, says there are bookings for the history nights through spring 2014.

by: COURTESY OF OREGON ENCYCLOPEDIA - Former Oregon labor boss David Beck - who made the cover of Time magazine (above) and worked with Jimmy Hoffa (above, left) - will be the subject of Oregon Encyclopedia event Oct. 7 at Mission Theater.At Edgefield, “we have a really devoted audience,” Hyatt-Evenson says. She says the Lewis and Clark/Columbia Gorge lecture filled the room, and talks on Oregon geological history, such as the Great Missoula Flood, also have been popular. At the Mission, the “1912 Homosexual Controversy” night proved to be popular. Another subject that drew in people was “Portland Xanadu,” about the rise and fall of the Hoyt Hotel.

The OE started its partnership with McMenamins in 2010, about five years after the Portland State University history department, Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Council of Teachers of English collaborated on coming up with the idea for the online encyclopedia. The OE started publishing entries in 2007, and now has about 1,200 entries about significant Oregon people, places, events, institutions, etc. — including some you might not have heard of — by some 500 authors in Oregon, arranged from A to Z. Content includes entries of 1,000 words and interpretive essays of 1,000 to 3,000 words. It also features photographs, historical documents and teacher lesson plans.

The web address is

“We could post thousands more,” says

“We want to provide general and definitive information about the state of Oregon ... for students, researchers, information seekers. It’s definitely an educational outreach.”

Recent entries include an essay on Japanese-Americans in Oregon. Hyatt-Evenson says there needs to be a similar essay done on African-Americans and Latinos in Oregon, and one on Chinese has been started. She says more standard entries, such as those about the Oregon Trail or Lewis and Clark, need to be written or expanded upon.

Unlike Wikipedia, the OE requires authors to send entries through an editorial process, with peer review and fact-checking. “You can’t just go in and change things,” she says.

Funding has come from the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust and Oregon State Library.

“We have about 1,200 entries, and we had the original goal of 3,000 to 5,000,” Hyatt-Evenson says. “It’s a project that could go on for, I don’t know, five or 10 more years. It’s mostly volunteer, and we’re publishing as much as we can. Hopefully, we continue to be funded and continue to be published.”

The history nights are an educational offshoot, with experts hosting the events — not just some guy off the street. They actually were born from The OE’s travels around the state, holding several community meetings to solicit entry and author suggestions for the online site. Many authors in The OE also serve as history night speakers.

“The speakers are very approachable,” Hyatt-Evenson says. “We usually get a lot of great questions at the end. People want to learn.

“It’s been a very good success. Unfortunately, we have to turn people away sometimes (because of seating capacity).”