Five on 5 – Kerry Tymchuk – Oregon Historical Society

Five on 5 – Kerry Tymchuk – Oregon Historical Society


Kristin: Welcome to the Five on 5 we are pleased
to be joined today by Kerry Tymchuk executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. Kerry thanks so much for being here. Kerry: Thank you. Kristin: Alright so you gotta talk to us a
little bit about your background and you’re accomplishments leading up to becoming executive
director of the Oregon Historical Society. Kerry: Well I’m an Oregon native on my mom’s
side I was a 5th generation Oregonian they were Curry County pioneers. Grew up in a little town called Reedsport. Kristin: Ok
Kerry: College and law school and Willamette, University in Salem and then spent about a
quarter of a century in public service working for a variety of elected officials in Washington
D.C. and here in Oregon including Bob and Elizabeth Dole and 12 years as the state director
for U.S. Senator Gordon Smith and then on to the Oregon Historical Society. Kristin: And you even had a stint on a poplar
game show. You gotta tell us about that. Kerry: I was a 4 time champion on Jeopardy. Kristin: That is pretty cool so you know a
thing or two about history? Kerry: Well useless trivia I guess so. Kristin: It’s put you in a good position. Kerry: Good position. Kristin: Based on the things that you’ve
done in the past how’s that set you up for success here? Is it really different? Kerry: Well it’s given me a broad understanding
I think of Oregon. Traveling the state for 12 years with Senator
Smith every county, every community in Oregon, getting to know the community leaders and
seeing what they’re interested in and telling the Oregon Story, the thing we all share in
common that whether we are the great, great, great grandsons of pioneers or whether we’re
Native Americans or whether we’re a Vietnamese immigrant family that moved here last month. We all share in common the fact that we’re
now Oregonians. Kristin: Pretty cool. What’s the mission of the society? Kerry: Well we’ve been around since 1898
with the mission of preserving, protecting and safe guarding, educating, entertaining
folks about all things Oregon history. We do this from out museum in downtown Portland,
the Museum of World Class Research Library. We have programs around the state, we have
traveling trunks that go to schools around the state, a website that gets a million hits
a year. Kristin: Wow
Kerry: Of people researching, finding things out about Oregon history. Kristin: And how long have you been with the
organization? Kerry: Six years. Kristin: Six years. Has it been really changing as far as what
it’s like for people to be able to come and take part in looking at that history? Kerry: We’ve made a lot of progress. Historical progress the last six years in
bringing OHS back to the, where it should be which is at the center point of discussions
as we look at all things Oregon history. And one of my favorite quotes from the historian
David Mccullough is “History is who we are and why we are the way we are”. And I think history gets a bad rap in school,
people say oh it’s just memorizing names and dates and places and it’s so much more
than that. It’s dramatic, interesting stories of famous
people, ordinary people and as we’ve moved Oregon and our civilization forward. Kristin: Well we’ve got much more to talk
about including you’ve got to show me some of the things you’ve brought. Kerry: Show and tell. Kristin: But we’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Kristin: Welcome back we are pleased to be
joined once again with Kerry Tymchuk executive director of the Oregon Historical Society. Thanks again for being here. Kerry: Thank you. Kristin: So you brought us a few things, show
us what you brought. Kerry: Well I like to show and tell, let people
hold and touch history and these are some of our most I think interesting items. This here go ahead it’s very heavy. Kristin: This is, I’m allowed to touch it? Kerry: You’re allowed to touch it. Kristin: Ok
Kerry: That is a piece of the Willamette meteorite. Kristin: Heavy. Kerry: The oldest meteorite or the largest
meteorite ever to hit North America. Kristin: Wow
Kerry: It was 6 feet by 10 feet, weighed 16 tons. 32,000 pounds. Kristin: Oh my goodness. And it hit, scientist believe in present day
Montana in British Columbia and washed down to Oregon in the Missoula floods that transformed
the landscape for the northwest. Kristin: and I’m holding a hunk of it. Kerry: And a fascinating story of how it came
to light and who found it. Kristin: Yeah. Kerry: They tried to steal it from somebody
else. It’s a great story. Kristin: Wow. Kerry: What I think is our most iconic item
and people can’t believe they get a chance to hold it like you will. This is the branding iron, the end of a branding
iron. There would have been a large stick on it
obviously, according to the calls and you can see the name on it, US Captain AM Lewis. This is Merryweather Lewis’s branding iron
that was made for him in Harper’s Fairy, West Virginia. Shortly before he left. Kristin: Wow. Kerry: On the Lewis and Clark expedition,
so you’re actually holding something that Merryweather Lewis held. Kristin: That is pretty impressive. So cool. Kerry; And then this is a the first draft
of the preamble of the Oregon constitution. Kristin; On lined paper I love it. Kerry: Unlined paper, everyone had very nice
penmanship, this is 1857 and this was the constitution that not only bans slavery but
also banned all African Americans from living in Oregon. What was called the exclusion clause. And I like to say our job at the Oregon Historical
Society, we’re not the chamber of commerce, we’re not the tourism bureau, our job is
to tell the truth about history, the good the bad and the ugly and there was many parts
of the ugly history in Oregon’s past. Krisitn: Right. Kerry: You know one of them being banning
all African Americans from living in Oregon. Kristin: For those who are interested, is
this a government or a private organization. Kerry: We are a nonprofit. We are a 501 C3, many historical societies
are state agencies. We’re not, we’ve always been a nonprofit. The state has always recognized that if it
weren’t for us, they’d have to do what we were doing so they’ve always provided
us a little bti of support, but most of it we depend on the kindness of strangers and
donors and philanthropy and businesses and corporate supporters and members. Anyone can be a member of the Oregon Historical
Society, you get a card that says you are a card carrying Oregonian of the Oregon Historical
Society. Kristin: And I imagine if you come to visit,
there’s opportunity to make sure… Kerry: Come to visit there. Kristin: To continue your work. Kerry: Right and www.ohs.org is the website. Would encourage anyone traveling to Portland
this summer to come see our John F. Kennedy exhibit. Kristin: Okay. Kerry: This year is the Kennedy centennial,
he was born 100 years ago. It’s May 29th and through the curtesy of
a private collector in Portland we have truly the country’s best collection of Kennedy
artifacts, documents, amazing one of a kid things that you just will never be able to
see anywhere else. And Caroline Kennedy, of course President
Kennedy’s daughter will be visiting us in September. September 19th we’ll visit the exhibit and
we’ll give the speech in Portland as well. It really is, it’s called high hopes, the
life and legacy of John Kennedy. Kristin: And that exhibit continues until… Kerry: Continues through early November. Kristin: Alright well I know we could probably
talk until November about everything that’s there but we so appreciate you coming in,
thanks you so much. Kerry: Thank you very much. Kristin: We’ll be right back.

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