Oregon150: “I am one of its people”


February 14, 2009 will mark the one-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of statehood for Oregon.  In celebration a number of activities are being planned state-wide, including several projects here at Oregon State University.

A strong case can be made that Linus Pauling is the most important individual ever produced by this state, so we think it only appropriate to join in the sesquicentennial festivities with a series of Oregon150 posts here on the blog.  Throughout 2009, near the start and middle of each month, we will be offering new installments to the Oregon150 category of posts that we started last year.  Along the way, we’ll be exploring, in depth, Pauling’s childhood in Portland and Condon, his undergraduate days at Oregon Agricultural College and the continuing interactions that he maintained with his home state and its inhabitants throughout his 70+ years living in southern California.

For the first installment in our 2009 series of Oregon150 posts, we would like to share one of our favorite books from the Pauling Personal Library.

In the Fall of 1910, nine-year old Linus and his two younger sisters, Pauline and Lucile, began the school year at Sunnyside Grammar School in the East Portland neighborhood where their family had moved a few months before.  One of the texts assigned by Linus’s teacher, Ms. Rathbone, was The Story of Oregon and its People, a basic history primer tracing the roots of the Beaver state from the mid-1700s to the time of the book’s publication in 1909.

As he read of Lewis and Clark, westward expansion and state luminaries including Dr. John McLoughlin and the Rev. Jason Lee — prior to last year, the only Oregonians to be featured on United States Postal Service stamps — it occurred to the young Pauling that he too was part of Oregon’s story, though he surely could not have known what an important role he would play.

Annotations by Linus Pauling, ca. 1910.

Annotations by Linus Pauling, ca. 1910.

The grade-schooler’s annotations are uniformly charming:  beyond his declaration of Oregon residence, we find that Linus, like many nine-year olds, wasn’t too terribly fond of his classroom environment, or at least for a spell.  We can also discern an interest in sledding and can only presume that the winter of 1910-11 was a snowy one in the Portland area.

Such were the idle thoughts of a boy soon to become an Oregon icon.

Miss Hell
A prime sledding run?

A prime sledding run?

2 Responses

  1. […] Oregon 150 (series). The state of Oregon celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2009, and the Pauling Blog participated by researching specific aspects of Pauling’s life in and association with the Beaver state.  Though most of these posts were released in 2009, our keen interest in exploring Pauling’s relationship with Oregon continues to this day – forty-six posts are now categorized under the heading, “Pauling and Oregon.” […]

  2. Based on my research, I believe Dr. Pauling made these annotations in either the fall of 1912-13 school year or the 1913-14 school year. Note that the writing in pen says Miss Hell and is crossed out. Miss Estelle A. Hell began teaching at Sunnyside in the 1912-13 school year as an 8th and 9th grade teacher, prior to that year she taught at the Sellwood and Creston schools. As far as I can tell Miss May Rathbun taught only 9th grade until it was discontinued at Sunnyside (around 1916 or 17).

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