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Oregon State Historian Laureate

Thomas Vaughan

Oregon State Historian Laureate: Thomas Vaughan

Adopted in 1989.

Thomas Vaughan's research into Oregon history has brought acclaim to the Oregon Historical Society and provoked interest in Northwest history. In 1989, the Legislature named him the historian laureate of Oregon for his years as keeper of Oregon's memory and heritage. His dedicated leadership and distinguished record of professional study and publication have brought worldwide recognition to the Oregon Historical Society and contributed greatly to historical interest and knowledge.

Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service

Oregon State Historian Laureate: Thomas Vaughan

Thomas Vaughan: Starting in 1954, in 35 years he all but hand-built a major institution, the Oregon Historical Society. In his spare time, he saved the Pioneer Courthouse from the wrecking ball.

His dedicated leadership and distinguished record of professional study and publication have brought worldwide recognition to the Oregon Historical Society and contributed greatly to historical interest and knowledge.

This rare, classic image of the falls shows three members of the 1963 OGNB naming expedition, thought to be (from left) Thomas Vaughan of the Oregon Historical Society, Herb Stone of the US Forest Service and Donald Sterling, Editor of the Oregon Journal. This is the only photo from the 1963 expedition that clearly shows the faces of individual members of the OGNB subcommittee, as described in Oregon Geographic Names.

Vaughan teamed up with Terence O'Donnell O'Donnell to write and publish published in 1984 "Portland: An Informal History and Guide" for the Oregon Historical Society gleaned in part from O'Donnell's frequent long walks through the city.

Thomas Vaughan, former director of the historical center who recruited O'Donnell to work there in the early 1970s, said: "He wrote with enormous skill and insight about affairs in the Middle East. He had a great respect and understanding and pity for the people there."

OSB member, Colin Lamb who thinks the appearance of a cluttered desk is under-appreciated. He writes: "I must admit I have a cluttered desk, which is simply my way of keeping the files that are waiting for work to be done.... It is my style of practicing law. But, it probably does bother some clients." Lamb says he was inspired by the desk of Thomas Vaughn, the former director of the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon historian laureate ("the most cluttered desk I ever saw"). But, Lamb added, "he had an outstanding mind and organizational skill.

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