WOU professor searching for copies of historic newspaper written - KPTV - FOX 12

WOU professor searching for copies of historic newspaper written by black women

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A Western Oregon University professor is on a quest for information about a 100-year-old newspaper authored by a group of black women.

Kimberly Jensen considers the paper a rare firsthand account from a lifetime ago. At the time of its publication it was still considered illegal for black people to settle in Oregon.

Jensen found a copy at the University of California Santa Barbara and flew to California to see the paper for herself, and what she found astounded her. 

"We don't have sources from this time period, from the black community, but also women voices. It's an incredibly precious treasure," said Jensen, a professor of history at WOU.

The issue published on June 7, 1917 is the said to be the only known copy of The People's Bulletin. Beneath its title, is a message that reads "in the interest of the colored people and the good of the state of Oregon."

"Racism was a part of the founding of Oregon, and these are community members fighting their daily lives and laws in the books that say they need to be out of town by sundown. To think about that they've organized women's clubs and they published a newspaper, each page is very valuable," Jensen said.

Jensen considers each article, photo and ad even a window to the past, from a group of voices rarely heard.

"I'm learning about activities, political views, what's happening in churches, but also interesting ideas," said Jensen. "One thing that's really hard and really great about being a historian is that we depend on what people save and what people think is important to save. Archivist save many materials, but many are about predominant community members, the elites."

But, perhaps the most exciting thing to Jensen about this publication is that it appears to be the 34th edition. Which means there's likely 33 others that preceded it. She's now on a hunt for those other publications and the century old information inked on those pages.

"My hope is that by showing Oregonians some of the images from the People's Bulletin and showing one that exists, someone else has another copy in a basement box, or they have seen it somewhere," Jensen said.

Jensen also talks about her findings in the Oregon Historical Quarterly that's out now.  If you think you have information about the People's Bulletin email Kimberly Jensen at jenseki@wou.edu.

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