National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Portland Branch records , 1938-2020

Overview of the Collection

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Portland Branch (Portland, Or.)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Portland Branch records
1938-2020 (inclusive)
43.5 linear feet, (41 containers)
Collection Number
Coll 295
The Portland branch of the NAACP was founded in 1914, and works in the state of Oregon to establish equality for all people and to eliminate racial discrimination in the state. The collection contains correspondence, meeting materials, financial records, publications, photos, and related ephemera.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Founded on February 12, 1909 by W.E.B. Du Bois and others, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) works to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

Portland's N.A.A.C.P. branch #1120 was originally founded in 1914 with Dr. J.N. Merriman as its first president and Beatrice Morrow Cannady, editor of African American newspaper The Advocate, as its first secretary. The organization successfully fought to repeal Oregon's exclusion laws, which were abolished in 1926 and 1927; established African Americans in unions; and opposed civic housing policies that excluded African Americans. Other major projects of the Portland branch include desegregation of Portland schools, implementation of Civil Rights legislation, voter registration and education (particularly after the voting age was lowered to 18), and legal redress for those involved in cases of discrimination, particularly in the area of housing and labor.

The Portland NAACP Branch is the oldest continuously chartered branch west of the Mississippi.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains the administrative and working files of the Portland branch of the NAACP. The bulk of the collection documents the work of both the executive board and the branch's numerous subcommittees. Typical records represented in this collection include: meeting minutes, correspondence, financial ledgers, publications, reports, research, press and publicity, certificates, plaques, and related ephemera.

As outlined by the Portland NAACP, the branch uses methods of direct action, litigation, and legislation to carry out its mission and obtain its goals.

Direct action includes agitation, demonstrations, marches, picketing, boycotts, economic sanctions and other appropriate action. This collection documents these actions through meeting minutes in which plans are discussed and approved; flyers and other publications; newspaper articles and other publicity about actions; copies of posters, pickets, and signs; memos, press releases, and correspondence calling for support of boycots and sanctions; and more. Material related to these actions can be found in the executive committee working files, as well as the working files of numerous subcommittees, particularly the Legislative, Political Action, Community Coordination, Housing, Press and Publicity, Religious Affairs, and Veteran's Affairs committees.

Litigation includes the initiation of, participation in, or endorsement of legal action related. No litigation activites may be pursued without the express approval of the national body's President/CEO. Upon approval, however, branch participation may include coordination with legal professionals to recommend or pursue legal action and/or publicly support existing legal action. The work of the Portland branch related to litigation can especially be found in the working files of the Housing, Labor, and Legal Redress committees, in addition to the executive committee. Examples of these records include correspondence received by the branch requesting legal assistance with discrimination, as well as internal records documenting branch actions related to these requests. Litigation at the Portland branch often concerned racial discrimination in the workplace (i.e. unlawful termination, harrassment) and school desegregation.

Legislation includes the endoresement of, participation in, and advocacy for laws at the local, state, or federal levels. Branches may not pursue these actions without the express approval of the national body's President/CEO. Once approved, branches may work to initiate new or repeal current legislation and support participation in initiatives that support and advance the branch's mission and goals. Branches are additionally expected to increase voter registration and participation. Legislative work is non-partisan. Examples of these activities can be found especially in the Executive, Political Action, Education, Legislative, Criminal Justice, and Youth committee working files.

Also included in this collection are administrative-type records such as those documenting branch membership and recruitment, as well as finances and operations. Additionally, there are several boxes of material related to regional and national NAACP conventions and conferences, typically programs, copies of bylaws and resolutions approved at conferences, publications from the conferences, and administrative records related to travel, hosting, and conference participation. The Portland branch is currently part of the Alaska Oregon Washington State-Area Conference, but also worked closely with the San Fransisco and other western branches in the past.

Ephemera primarily consists of plaques and certificates issued by various bodies celebrating the work of the Portland branch. Examples include: a plaque from the national body of the NAACP recognizing Portland for their outstanding work despite no paid staff and another for registering large numbers of voters; plaques awarded by local hospitals, youth organizations, or other community organizations recognizing the support of the Portland branch.

This collection contains records that document the repeal of Oregon's exclusion laws; local and state enactment of civil rights legislation; desegregation of Portland schools; and the Albina neighborhood in Portland.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Affirmative action programs
  • African Americans
  • African Americans--Civil rights--Oregon
  • African Americans--Education--Oregon
  • African Americans--Employment--Oregon
  • African Americans--Housing--Oregon--Portland
  • African Americans--Oregon--Portland
  • African Americans--Segregation--Oregon
  • Discrimination in education--Oregon
  • Discrimination in housing--Oregon
  • Minorities--Education (Higher)--Oregon--Eugene
  • Minorities--Employment
  • Segregation in education--Oregon

Geographical Names

  • Oregon
  • Oregon--Race relations--History--20th century
  • United States--Race relations--History--20th century

Form or Genre Terms

  • Scrapbooks