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Tacoma Community History Projects: 2007

A guide to oral history projects compiled by students in Professor Mike Honey's "Doing Community History" course. Projects date from 1991.

Project Descriptions

The Chronicles of the Life of Wilmott Ragsdale – Call# 2007#07

No abstract available. -Alicia J. Carter

Discrimination is the Bosses' Tool: Tacoma Longshore Unions and African Americans – Call# 2007#09

No abstract available. -Patricia George

The Drug War and Civil Rights - Call # 2007#06

The "War on Drugs" in the United States was declared by President Ronald Reagan in his Radio Address to the Nation on October 2, 1982. The initiatives that followed were significantly escalated by President George H. W. Bush in 1989. These same programs have been deemed by many to be highly intrusive and in conflict with the Bill of Rights. Peter Rodino (Democrat, New Jersey), former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, "We have been fighting the war on drugs, but now it seems to me that the attack is on the Constitution of the United States." Federal legislation was reiterated at the state level all across the country, including Washington, where an "Omnibus Drug Bill" was overwhelmingly passed on March 2, 1989. Interviewee Richard Scharick worked as the Assistant Sergeant of Arms in the Washington State House of Representatives from 1981 to 1993. He witnessed the full debate on the bill, and has direct knowledge of the legislators who supported it, as well as those who opposed it and why. -Kevin Wallace

La-Sy-El: Daughter of Swinomish - Call # 2007#03

This is a story about an extraordinary woman, my mother Faye. She was raised in both the Native American and white American cultures, which enabled her to shift between the two realities with ease and confidence, coexisting in both. Faye's story is inseparable from the influential connection she shared with her grandmother, parents, and brother. She discusses her life from childhood through adulthood, as a wife, mother, Indian, missionary, and recovering alcoholic. Her story is about trying to understand herself and others, God, war, life and death. Faye, as a devoted Catholic and admirer of the Jesuit's religious mission, has stayed true to her spiritual conviction throughout her life. -Cecelia La Pointe-Gorman

Lyle Quasim- Activism is about taking action – Call# 2007#08

No abstract available. -Baboucarr Lowe

Mexican Americans from Mexico to Washington State: Discrimination and Segregation in the Memory of One Witness - Call # 2007#02

The signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 effectively ended the Mexican-American War. The terms were largely dictated by the United States to the interim Mexican government. It provided for the transfer of 525,000 square miles of Mexican territory to the US in exchange for 15 million dollars. It also ensured the property rights of Mexican citizens living in the transferred territory, but in reality these rights were rarely honored. Interviewee Jenaro Castenada's family was living in Texas at the time of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty. He discusses how the treaty changed the lives of Mexicans living in the affected areas; and how both the Bracero Program (1942-1964), a temporary contract labor program, and the National Farm Workers Job Program (1964), have impacted the lives of Mexican Americans from the time of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty. Castenada began working as a farm laborer, and serves at present (2007) as a representative of the Women and Minorities Business Enterprise of Washington State. -Yris Lance

Michael Dougliss and Whidbey Island - Call # 2007#05

The US Congress passed the Donation Land Claim Act in 1850 in order to promote homestead settlement throughout the Oregon Territory, which consisted of the present-day states of Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. Whidbey Island Washington attracted a number of Irish immigrants as early as the 1850s, followed by several Dutch families beginning in the 1890s. Interviewee Michael Dougliss' great grandparents moved to the island in 1906 to join the small farming community. In 1941 the US government began searching for a re-arming and refueling station for Navy patrol planes defending the Puget Sound. Whidbey Island was chosen for its abundant land - already cleared by farmers - and accessible waterways. The Naval Air Station was completed and commissioned in September 1942. Dougliss discusses the difficulties caused by the new base, his working life on the farm, and his family history in the context of the broader community. -Pamela Strait

A National Coalition: From Safety and Shelters to Public Policy and Systems Change - Call # 2007#01

As a young wife interviewee Matilda "Tillie" Laura Black Bear, a Lakota Sioux from South Dakota, was a victim of domestic violence. In the early 1970's studies and reports from all over the country began to reveal startling statistics of violence against women. Yet as these numbers became publicized there appeared to be no concerted federal response. Instead, volunteers and survivors began acting as advocates and service providers through grassroots organizations. Tillie Black Bear founded the White Buffalo Calf Women's Society in 1977, and was instrumental in opening the first battered women's shelter in South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux reservation. She was also the founder and former president of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. In 2000 Tillie Black Bear was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal for Human Rights by President Bill Clinton, who noted that "fittingly, Tillie was born on Human Rights Day, December the 10th." -Tang Cheam

The U.S. Navy during World War II: One Man's Experience - Call # 2007#04

In response to Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States entered a period of intense military and industrial expansion. There had been significant cutbacks in shipbuilding since World War I, so Congress made allowances for both private and naval shipyards to grow and modernize. The need for trained personnel was also urgent, addressed in part by the construction of a new naval training station in northern Idaho. President Roosevelt personally chose the site, near the south end of Lake Pend Oreille. Farragut naval station - named after the Navy's first full admiral - was built in 5 months during 1942, and was the second largest training facility in the country. Interviewee Dale R. Standley attended Farragut as a new recruit in 1943. He reminisces about his experience in training, his life as an Electrician's Mate on the USS Hatfield, and his family history. -Constance Standley