History of the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center
The OHRC began in 1983 after some preliminary discussions and planning among interested members of the Portland area. Several members of the ecumenical community as well as a group who had been recording Holocaust oral histories, Portland area academics, and those interested in furthering diversity and tolerance education. The Center’s operation began in earnest the following year, with offices at Congregation Neveh Shalom Synagogue, under the direction of Dr. Sylvia Frankel.
The genesis of the Center was the Survivor Oral History Project of the late Shirley Tanzer. Under the leadership of Shirley Tanzer and Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, the OHRC was chartered as an educational organization. Soon after its founding, the OHRC initiated programs of teacher training, a Speakers’ Bureau of survivors that visit middle and high school groups, an annual writing & art competition for students, and an oral history program. Later it added exhibits, lecture series’ and special programs and events, such as seminars for students, commemorations for Kristallnacht and Yom Ha’Shoah, and graduate classes in Holocaust education.
In 1987, OHRC helped sponsor an academic conference involving noted Holocaust historians, Christopher Browning, Lawrence Langer, and Deborah Lipstadt. Elie Wiesel has also been brought to a large Portland audience under the auspices of OHRC.
In 1989, OHRC began sponsoring teacher workshops on the statewide in-service day. Since then, hundreds of teachers from Oregon and Washington have taken OHRC workshops to enhance their classroom instruction of the Holocaust. In 2001, OHRC and the Oregon Committee for the Humanities cosponsored the first collaborative workshop for teachers, held at Willamette University.
In 1993, the OHRC Board voted to seek an academic affiliation with a university. In 1994, the OHRC affiliated with Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Oregon, and opened an office in Pacific’s Warner Hall. This office was expanded to become the Center’s headquarters in January 1996.
This relationship grew and lasted until 2007, when it was decided OHRC needed to be closer to Portland, and the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. The OHRC then moved to its current home at 1953 NW Kearney in Portland, OR in January 2010. The Oregon Holocaust Resource Center now functions as an independent organization, supported by donations, grants, and special funds.