How did Donnybrook get its name? What really went on at the Madras Air Base during World War II?
What was daily life like for the homesteaders, railroaders, dam builders, G.I. farmers, and Hispanic farm workers who came to Jefferson County? How did life change for the Native Americans who were already here?
Local families, genealogists, writers and history buffs are being rallied to help with a pilot project in Madras to develop "The Oregon Encyclopedia."
The Encyclopedia is attempting to create an online, user-friendly, Web site covering Oregon history and culture under the headings of People, Places, Events, Institutions, and Life-forms.
The interactive Web site was launched Feb. 14, and it is designed to be added to as people's personal accounts are submitted.
As the information grows, it will become a great tool for teachers, students, researchers, writers and the general public. The Web page can be viewed at http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org.
"It's a chance for us to tell our own stories of local history. It's time for the grassroots history to come out," said Madras resident and author Jerry Ramsey, who is one of the Oregon Encyclopedia editors.
Madras, along with Coos Bay, has been selected as a pilot community to develop a program of town meeting visits and free workshops all across Oregon by the professionals who will be editing The Oregon Encyclopedia, with the goal of encouraging contributions by local residents.
"We're really excited that the Encyclopedia project has chosen Madras for one of its start-up community visits, and our hope is that, through the visit, our local history-buffs and writers will be motivated to contribute entries to the Encyclopedia, and to carry out their projects," Ramsey said.
"If we don't try to tell the stories we know about our home country, who will do it for us?" he asked.
Festival of Talents
At 7:30 p.m., Friday, April 25, the Encyclopedia project will lead off with a Festival of Talents including music, dance, folklore and history at the Cross Keys Inn in Madras.
Besides being entertaining for locals, the evening will give visiting Encyclopedia editors a sample of the variety of cultures in Jefferson County, Ramsey noted.
Performers include the Mud Springs Gospel Band, Warm Springs 4-H Dance Group, and the St. Patrick's Church Hispanic Children's Choir led by Sergio Ruiz.
Speakers will give information on the Encyclopedia project to let local residents know about the opportunity to tell their own stories.
Refreshments will be served as people browse through exhibits of student History Day displays, and a Traveling Trunk on railroad history compiled by a student for use in elementary classrooms.
On Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the library's Rodriguez Annex, the Encyclopedia editorial team will offer informal workshops on collecting and writing about local history, and contributing to the Oregon Encyclopedia.
Leading the workshops will be: Ulrich Hardt, English professor at Portland State University; William Lang, history professor at PSU; William Robbins, history professor emeritus at Oregon State University; Joanne Mulcahey, folklorist and writing instructor at Northwest Writing Institute, Lewis and Clark College; Marianne Keddington-Lang, former editor of the "Oregon Historical Quarterly" and director of the OHQ Press; and Madras resident Jarold Ramsey, author and English professor emeritus at the University of Rochester.
The Oregon Encyclopedia is a joint enterprise of Portland State University and the Oregon Historical Society, with support from the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Council of Teachers of English, and the Oregon Heritage Commission.