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OREGON FIRSTS: Firsts for Oregon Past and Present

By James Andrew Long

Oregon Firsts describes over 1,500 chronological and other ranking firsts for Oregon. The following, posted with permission of the author, are Oregon Library Firsts.

First #525

The Oregon Country's first library was at the Red River settlement in 1816. The Fort George (Astoria) library with 50 books in 1821 was moved to Fort Vancouver. The Multnomah Circulating Library started in Oregon City (1842) with 300 volumes.

First #529

In the Act establishing the Oregon Territory in 1848, Congress established a territorial library with the primary function to serve officers of the territorial government.

First #536

Oregon is the only state in the U.S. in which every community that was offered funds to build a library from Andrew Carnegie's foundation actually met the commitment with matching funds. There is great social significance to the movement for free libraries. From 1901 to 1915, the following 24 Oregon communities built Carnegie Libraries: Albany, Ashland, Baker City, Dallas, Enterprise, Eugene, Grants Pass, Hermiston, Hillsboro, Hood River, Klamath Falls, La Grande, McMinnville, Marshfield, Medford, Milton, Ontario, Oregon City, Pendleton, Portland, Salem, The Dalles, Union, and Woodburn.

First #536

Pacific University operated the first academic library west of the Rocky Mountains to receive any Carnegie Library funds ($20,000, April 5, 1905).

First #537

The first mail order service in any American library was begun in 1911 by the Oregon State Library in Salem. Cornelia Marvin Pierce, the State Librarian, deserves credit.

First #550

In 1965, the Oregon State Library in Salem became the first state library in this nation to publish a master book catalog.

First #551

The Oregon construction library at Multnomah County Library is unique as the "first Public Library of construction publications in the country."

First #552

The Oregon State Library is the first Center for the Book west of the Mississippi River, as designated in 1990 by the Library of Congress.

First #554

"Uncle Sam in the Oregon Country," the first exhibit in a series by the Library of Congress entitled "States of the Nation," opened at the Oregon State Library in October, 1990.

Marching Forward: Northwest Women's Firsts

By James Andrew Long

As the 21st century begins, Oregon and Washington women are some of the world's most advanced. However, women were left out of many early history books. Marching Forward presents over 850 firsts by more than a thousand female role models, many with historical significance beyond the Pacific Northwest. The following, posted with permission of the author, are some firsts from Oregon and Washington women Librarians.

Cornelia Marvin

The first State Librarian was a women, Cornelia Marvin, who served from 1905-1927, the longerst duration of any State Librarian in the Century. Cornelia Marvin moved to Oregon from Wisconsin to start and adminisgter the Oregon State Library Commission. She has an office on the first floor of the old Capitol. She was a pioneer in extending library services into the community.

Cornelia Marvin traveled around Oregon, sometimes on horse-drawn stagecoach, meeting with people and encouraging them to establish libraries. Cornelia Marvin established the first mail order department in any American library, in 1909 (before women could vote).

With Cornelia Marvin's encouragement, U.S. Senator Jonathan Bourne from Oregon wrote the parcel post law passed by Congress in this period. Now all state libraries employ mail order circulation. According to Cornelia Marvin's calculations, in 1919, the Oregon State Library had a larger number of shipments from its general loan desk than any other state with mail-order books.

During Cornelia Marvin's tenure in Office, the number of public libraries operating in Oregon multiplied from less than a handful to more than one hundred. Miss Marvin left her state job in 1928.

May Warren

Oregon State University's first full-time librarian was May Warren from 1890 to 1891.

Mary Frances Isom

One of the people most responsible for free libraries in Oregon is Mary Frances Isom (1865-1920). Mary Isom mace to Portland from New York City in 1901 to catalog a Portland Library Association collection. She was responsible for the law which created the Oregon State Library Commission and she organized the Oregon Library Association. Mary Frances Isom helped establish the Multnomah County Library, serving as its Head Librarian during its early formative years. Mary Frances Isom was a member of the first Oregon State Library Commission at its first meeting at the Governor's office in 1905. She was involved in planing the buildingof the downtown Portland library, which was finished in 1912. In 1912 she was vice-president of the American Library Association. Mary Frances Isom worked to establish libraries throughout the Pacific Northwest. She led book drives for women and men serving in World War I.

Description of the Marching Forward Cover, photo not available online.

Ordering Information

Oregon Firsts: Past and Present
$24.95 plus $4.00 shipping per copy

Marching Forward: Northwest Women's Firsts
$29.95 plus $4.00 shipping per copy

Send check or money order to:
Oregon Firsts Media
Pumpkin Ridge Productions
P.O. Box 33
North Plains, OR 97133-0033

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