Public History Student Work

Faculty and students often work collaboratively on public history projects for and with community partners. Students also participate in public history internships throughout the greater Portland area and produce projects of their own design. A sampling follows.


Faculty/Student Collaborations & Course Projects

Confluence Project Oral History Interviews (Spring 2016)
Students in the Oral and Community History Seminar transcribed and analyzed oral history interviews held by the Confluence Project, a public art/history project that places art installations designed by Maya Lin at sites important to area tribes and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The interviews will support the interpretation at the Celilo Park installation.

Chinook Website & Oral History Project (2009-)
PSU public history students have contributed in a variety of ways to this on-going partnership between the History Department and the Chinook Nation. Deliverables include a website documenting the history of the Lower Chinookan people through archaeology, historical documents, and oral tradition, an oral history collection of Chinook elders and leaders, and public programs on sovereignty and federal recognition. Steeped in the protocols of community-based research and research return protocols, students and faculty collaborate closely with the Chinook Culture Committee to determine project outcomes, report findings back to the culture committee, and conduct their research in Chinook Nation territory.

Podcast & Social Media Plan for the Oregon Encyclopedia (Winter 2016)
In a lab course offered by Greg Shine, students developed a podcast and social media plan for the Oregon Encyclopedia (, including mock podcasts. Students identified topics, conducted interviews, wrote scripts, developed marketing plans, and produced podcasts, which they presented to staff at the OE at the conclusion of the course.

Heritage Trees (2015-)
Under the direction of Professor Catherine McNeur, undergraduate and graduate students delved into the history of the city’s trees, helping to expand the historical programming and documentation of the city’s Heritage Tree program. Working in collaboration with arborists at Portland Parks and Recreation, students developed projects to bring the history of Portland and its trees to a wide audience from podcasts, trading cards, and educational coloring books to walking tours and guidebooks. Their projects can be seen on the course website.

Podcasts and History (2016-)
Working in collaboration with KBOO (90.7 FM), students produce “this week in history” podcasts under the direction of Professor Catherine McNeur that are broadcasted to KBOO listeners during the newshour and broadcast more expansively via the internet as podcasts. In addition students produce blog entries to accompany the podcasts expanding on the history they can include. Students learn recording and editing skills, as well as historical research techniques and project management.  

Black United Front Oral History Project
This digital exhibit was built by Portland State University public history students in 2015 to highlight the interpretive richness of an oral history collection held by the PSU library.  The oral histories were also completed by PSU students in 2010.  

This exhibit contains audio and text excerpts from oral history interviews of community members, photographs, press articles, documents, and biographies.

Complete transcripts from a selection of interviews are accessible on the Black United Front Oral History Project page on PDXScholar.

Red Cross Archiving Project (2004-2005) 
PSU partnered with the Oregon Trail Chapter of the American Red Cross to prepare an archive out of their rich 100+ year history. History faculty member Patricia Schechter co-taught a one-term course with Lewis and Clark College archivist Doug Erickson to train undergraduate and graduate students in basic processing, preservation, and digitization methods. Over a ten-week period, students took a scattered body of photographs, documents, newspapers, printed materials and audio and built a well-ordered collection, searchable by both paper and electronic finding aids. Graduate students assembled an historical display focused on the Red Cross's iconic function of blood collection. Finally, the class built a website to showcase the various components of the project.  At the Red Cross's annual meeting in the spring of 2005, PSU was awarded an outstanding community partnership prize, in recognition of the quality of this project.


Student Projects

Beyond Footnotes Podcast Series (2015-) 
Beyond Footnotes is a history-themed podcast on local KPSU, sponsored by Portland State University’s Department of History, and run by history student, Robert Campbell (2016). Beyond Footnotes bi-weekly show features interviews with the talented faculty and students of PSU, providing a forum for local historians to share their work with each other and the community.

The show was co-created and originally hosted by Ryan Wisnor and Joshua Justice of Dive Audio.

Augmented Reality Sandbox Installation (2016)
Undergraduates Corinne Rupp and Maddie Mott designed and installed an augmented reality sandbox at the Clackamas County Historical Society as to enhance the museum’s interactive elements. The sandbox allows museum visitors to create a 3-D model of the Willamette Valley.

Latino Communities in Washington County Oral History Project (2012-2014)
Graduate student Luke Sprunger designed an oral history project in collaboration with the Washington County Historical Society to document the history of the county’s Latino communities. The interviews supported his thesis,

Center for the Moving Image Oral History Project (2011-2012)  
Graduate student Heather Petrocelli conducted interviews with former students of Oregon’s first film department, PSU’s Center for the Moving Image, to document the emergence of the film industry in the city. The interviews, as well as paper documents and photographs from a CMI reunion organized by Petrocelli are all housed at the PSU archives. Petrocelli designed the oral history project to support her thesis, Portland's "Refugee from Occupied Hollywood": Andries Deinum, his Center for the Moving Image, and film education in the United States. Heather published an article based on her thesis in the Oregon Historical Society, Heather O. Petrocelli, "Andries Deinum and his Center for the Moving Image," Oregon Historical Quarterly, vol. 114, no. 3 (Fall 2013).

Lesbian Land Communities of Southern Oregon Oral History Project (2011-2013)
Graduate student Heather Burmeister conducted interviews with the founders of a cluster of lesbian land communities in southern Oregon in support of her thesis, “Rural Revolution: Documenting the Lesbian Land Communities of Southern Oregon.” She deposited the interviews at the University of Oregon Special Collections, which also houses a documentary record of these communities.