Instructor organizes historic Portlander’s archives for exhibit
Photos and Story by Meryl Lipman
Portland Community College history instructor Jeffer Daykin will be the featured scholarly speaker at the opening of an important archival collection at the Multnomah County Library. The opening ceremony, and Daykin’s speech, marks the culmination of several years’ work to bring the history of Colonel Henry E. Dosch to the public.
The Henry E. Dosch Exhibition opened on Jan. 22 and will be on display through March 27. Opening Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Collins Library, 3rd Floor, Multnomah County Library Central.
Henry Dosch was a prominent Portlander born in 1841, who became the Director of Exhibits for the 1905 Lewis & Clark World’s Fair and is credited for inviting Japan to that fair and to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific World’s Fair (in Seattle) in 1909. Prior to his involvement in World’s Fairs, Dosch served in the Union Army as a Fremont Bodyguard during the Civil War, moved to Oregon and became Pony Express rider, and apparently met Mark Twain when he briefly lived in Nevada (though there is no evidence of that). He eventually settled in Portland, where he promoted Oregon and Japan to each other as potential business and cultural partners until his death in 1925.
Daykin’s research for his original masters’ thesis on Japan at the 1905 Portland World’s Fair led him to Dosch descendant James Driscoll. After meeting Driscoll, he forged a connection between the Dosch family and the Multnomah County Library John Wilson Special Collections, a part of the library he’d used with great care as a graduate student.
Securing the donation was only the beginning of the partnership between Daykin and John Wilson Special Collections Librarian Jim Carmin. When the collection arrived at the library, it was in “twenty five boxes of completely unorganized materials,” said Carmin, who estimates there were over 20,000 photos, documents and pieces of correspondence that “had mostly been boxed since the 1920s.”
Daykin, who also teaches at PSU, had a solution to that dilemma. He arranged for his Capstone students (at PSU) to process the archives. Over the last two years, six different Capstone classes have worked tirelessly under Daykin tutelage and Carmin’s supervision, to make sense of, date, sort, organize the materials and prepare them for public use.
Carmin praised Daykin’s work with his students. “Jeffer is engaging; he is very serious and involved. He encourages students to push and learn. He wants to make sure they know why they’re there.” According to Carmin, Daykin was highly successful in that endeavor. “Students would come back and either want to continue working on the project or they would thank me,” said Carmin. “They gained (a great deal of) knowledge.”
Daykin, who teaches a range of history courses at PCC Rock Creek including the Eastern Civilization sequence and a Holocaust history course, has attended and presented at several symposia in and about Japan. He continues to produce scholarship related to early 20th Century international expositions through his work with the Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation of Japan. He says he hopes to use his love of Japanese and Portland history to give “local perspective to international relations and connect Portland with the wider world.”