Last week I attended the celebration for the Oregon Encyclopedia’s 1,000th entry (on Joseph Meek). And with recently added material, the encyclopedia is up to 1,041 entries written by over 600 authors.
What’s the Oregon Encyclopedia, you ask? It’s an online compendium of all things Oregon—from agriculture, architecture, tand the arts to sports, transportation and technology. When I mention the Oregon Encyclopedia to people, they sometimes respond—“Oh, it’s an Oregon Wikipedia.” But it’s not. The articles are peer-reviewed, fact-checked in advance, and edited by a professional editorial team.
The OE, as it is known, is a partnership among Portland State University, the Oregon Council of Teachers of English, and the Oregon Historical Society, which also hosted the editorial board meeting and celebration last week. The idea of the Oregon Encyclopedia came about as part of the Oregon sesquicentennial and was announced on Feb. 14, 2008, the state’s 149th birthday.
Now there are over a thousand short entries—250-1000 words—on significant people, events, places, institutions in Oregon, from Bobby the Wonder Dog to the Roseburg Blast. And there are longer essays on some topics that run through Oregon’s history, along with hundreds of images, documents, and maps and special material for teachers and students. The response has been phenomenal. In the last six months, the OE website has been accessed by 118,439 users. Outreach efforts have included history night presentaions, special research initiatives, writing workshops, and today the OE has over fifty community partners around the state.
Portland State University historian Bill Lang is the Executive Editor of the Oregon Encyclopedia and, along with three senior editors, Ulrich Hardt, Linda Tamura, and Jeff LaLande, and a terrific staff—Marianne Keddington-Lang, Tania Hyatt-Evenson, and Amy Platt.
There is plenty of Ashland, literary and otherwise, in the OE too, with entries on Lawson Inada, Jerry Turner, Vladimir Nabokov in Ashland, Betty Laduke, Mary Perry Stone, Lenn Hannon, Dean Ing, and Les Aucoin, as well as the city of Ashland, Southern Oregon University, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Lithia Park, Jefferson Public Radio, Blackstone Audio, Cycle Oregon, the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the State of Jefferson, and the Schneider Museum of Art.
Ashland is well-represented among the authors too. Entries have been published by Kit Leary, Teresa Montomgery, Vince Wixon, Alan Armstong, Ed Battistella, Mary Gardiner, Joe Peterson, Aurora King, Paul Pavlich, Dennis Powers, Kevin Talbert, Mark Tveskov, Tom Nash, Don Reynolds, Phyllis Reynolds, Maryann Mason, Maureen Flanagan, Frank Lang, Stewart Janes, George Kramer, Ron Kramer, Mitzi Loftus, Jeff LaLande, Jamie Vener and McNair Scholars Kristi Russell, Tiffany McCormack, Jeff Proulx, and Danielle Mann.
For a writer, working with the OE is a great experience–you are forced to be concise, encouraged to be interesting, thoroughly fact-checked, and gently edited. What more can an writer ask?
The Oregon Encyclopedia is turning out be be one of the most innovative state encyclopedias around and if you are researching anything about the state it’s an invaluable resource. One of my students is doing a capstone project on Oregon literature and she’s using the OE extensively. Check out the Oregon Encyclopedia. There’s something for everyone.