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Oregon Ballot Measures Archives Project


I’m thrilled to report on this story (librarians have weird wish-lists) from the Salem Statesman Journal:

Project seeks to gather history of Oregon measures

PORTLAND, Ore. — Within the marble walls of the State Archives Building, it’s all there—almost. Every word officially spoken by and to Oregon legislators since 1859 has been recorded, itemized and stored.But something is missing, and the Ballot Measure Archives Project hopes to help plug the hole, the paper trail left by Oregon’s other lawmakers — the citizens, who have passed laws and amended the state constitution through the initiative system since 1904. “The Ballot Measure Archive Project is arguably a political version of the Human Genome Project,” said donor and supporter Phil Keisling, a former secretary of state who recently turned over his collection from the 1998 initiative he promoted that created Oregon’s vote-by-mail system.Keisling said he’s encouraged by the progress so far and hopes others with old boxes of ballot-measure campaign documents will make them available for historians, researchers and others….’ (link to full story)


More on this project – from Blue Oregon:

“Don’t Waste Oregon History, by Joshua Binus of Portland, Oregon. Joshua is the Director of the Ballot Measure Archive Project and a Public Historian.”

It is fairly well known that Oregon has the longest running use of the initiative and referendum system in the United States and that our state has been one of the most active users of the system during that time. But I would hazard a guess that most people are unaware that the vast majority of the historical records generated from that system have been destroyed. Why? The answer is simple: there was no place for them. The Oregon Legislature has never charged the state archive with the responsibility to fully document initiative and referendum campaigns….” (link to full post)

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