The cost of history

History is an important part of everyone, every place and everything. Oregon’s history is in danger of being forgotten.

History is an important part of everyone, every place and everything. Oregon’s history is in danger of being forgotten.

The Oregon Historical Society has experienced numerous obstacles in funding and has suffered a lot of budget cuts. OHS now faces the possibility that its state appropriation of $312,000—one of the lowest appropriations of historical societies in the nation—being cut down to nothing.

The lack of state funding has forced the historical society to put its fate in the hands of the good people of Multnomah County. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners has placed a new property tax levy on the Nov. 2 ballot.

If it does not pass, the Oregon Historical Society will be closing its library, museum or the entire operation. No funding would result in the Oregon Historical Society closing its doors forever to the public.

We as Oregonians cannot let this happen. It would be a crime against the state and against ourselves to let our history be forgotten.

Measure 26-118 would raise property taxes only by a nickel per $1,000, which means that if a house is assessed at $200,000, the owners would only pay $10 more per year. All owners would really have to do in this situation would be to give up their daily Starbucks two times a year.

This levy is not raising property taxes dramatically, and what the people would have to give is really not that much in comparison to what it would do for the Oregon Historical Society.

This amount of money would make a drastic difference; OHS would have the money in the realm of somewhere between $2.24 million and $2.59 million a year. The amount should be appealing to property owners, but the fact that OHS promises that the levy is only temporary is also inviting. OHS would put that money to good use.

The Oregon Historical Society is in the heart of downtown Portland. It is down the street from the Portland State campus and right across the street from the Portland Art Museum. OHS is in a great location that is easily accessible to Portlanders. Even if someone does not live in Portland, OHS is a fantastic resource to anyone and everyone who lives in the state.

The Oregon Historical Society is especially important to Portland State students, as it provides a multitude of resources. The library and museum are both valuable resources that provide a place not just for students, but also for the public to learn about Oregon’s history.

The OHS museum provides a place for field trips for students as well, and according to, more and more public schools are bringing their students to OHS.

With this levy, the Oregon Historical Society library would be restored to full access, which would include restoring daily hours and staffing. Because of budget cuts, the library was cut down to three half-days per week and staffing was cut by two-thirds. If the levy passes, the library will be able to be restored and can fully support the needs of the community.

The levy would also restore curators’ ability to develop collections for the museum. A local levy would provide free admission to the OHS museum and research library for all Multnomah County residents and all school groups.

If the levy does not pass, however, the Oregon Historical Society would have to close its doors to the public. OHS has fought quite the battle with funding lately after having lost 78 percent of its support from the state of Oregon, according to

So if you get two less Starbucks lattés per year, the Oregon Historical Society can take that money and spread it around the state of Oregon. Oregon has a rich history that should be shared with its people.

By spending just a little time in the historical society, one can feel Oregon’s history—it’s inspirational. Oregon’s history matters; just because it is in the past does not mean that it should be forgotten.