Guide to the Oregon Roadside Council Records

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Oregon Roadside Council
Title: Oregon Roadside Council records
Dates: 1960-2002 ( inclusive )
1975-1995 ( bulk )
Quantity: 2 cubic ft. (4 document cases)
39 photographic prints  :  b&w and color
Collection Number: Coll 22
Summary: Records of a private organization founded in 1932 and dedicated to the protection of Oregon's natural scenery through community efforts and the influencing of legislation. The records were largely created by one of the organization's active members and officers, Alexander Bolton Pierce, Jr. (1924-2003), a Portland architect. Included are board of director's minutes, position papers, correspondence, as well as some of Pierce's personal papers.
Repository: Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Contact Information: Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Languages: The collection is in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical Note

The Oregon Roadside Council (ORC) is “… an organization dedicated to the preservation of Natural Scenic Beauty along Oregon’s highways and beautification where such is needed.” [Oregon Roadside Council brochure, 1973] The Council was founded in October, 1932, with Mrs. Jessie M. Honeyman as president.

The goals and objectives of the ORC are: to maintain a central organization for individual and group effort toward the preservation and conservation of Oregon’s great asset, her scenic beauty; and to affect such legislation as will permanently protect the natural scene along the highways of Oregon and to cooperate with other agencies that have similar objectives.

Some of the Council’s achievements include the preservation of roadside forests and scenic areas (for example, the Van Duzer and Larch Mountain forest corridors); the creation of more State and County parks; helping to create the Columbia Gorge Commission; passage of the Billboard Control Act of 1955 which regulated to a degree the spacing and size of signs; aiding in the passage of state bills to regulate billboards according to the National Standards on sections of the Federal Interstate System; creating the Oregon Scenic Area Board which establishes scenic areas; supporting billboard removal under the Federal Highway Beautification Act; and advocacy for stricter billboard and outdoor signage ordinances for the City of Portland and Multnomah County.

The ORC also cooperated with the Oregon Federation of Garden Clubs in the building and the location of more than 5,000 bird houses on public lands; planted wildflower seed in the Columbia River Gorge; and provided grants to garden clubs for roadside improvements. The Oregon Roadside Council has continuously taken a lead in being vigilant in challenging illegal advertising along the public right-of-way and acts as an “alert” switchboard for roadside desecration.

Content Description

The present collection of records of the Oregon Roadside Council came principally from the files of one of its most active members, Alexander Bolton Pierce, Jr., a Portland area architect. Pierce (March 22, 1924 - July 14, 2003) held several offices on the Council , including that of President and Secretary. It appears that Pierce was the unofficial community “watchdog” when it came to issues of outdoor advertising, signage, and other forms of “visual blight” in Oregon, particularly in the Portland metropolitan area.

The collection contains a considerable amount of the Council’s incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1974-2002, plus correspondence from Pierce as an individual, usually relating to topics consistent with the activities and positions of the ORC. An effort was made, in the processing of the collection, to keep Pierce’s non-organization correspondence separate. However, a researcher must read both to get the full sense of the council’s activities and the dedication of its key members.

The minutes of the ORC’s Board of Director’s, although incomplete, from 1980 to 1998, offer a good look at the organization’s continuing vigilance and activities concerning outdoor signage and other key issues of interest to the council. Of particular interest are the position papers and reports generated by the ORC regarding billboards and outdoor signage in Portland and Multnomah County (particularly in the 1970s and 1980s), as well as copies of various drafts of sign ordinances, regional, state and federal legislation, copies of letters and articles regarding outdoor signage, and the work and position papers of Alex Pierce.

The collection, at times, is spotty, with some gaps in the board minutes, correspondence, and newsletters of the council. The records are most complete in the documentation of the Multnomah County outdoor signage ordinance debate in the mid-1970s and again in 1981-1983, and the City of Portland’s sign code revisions in the early 1980s. Pierce’s papers, especially his correspondence and position papers of the 1990s, are also significant to any research on the recent history of outdoor signage in the Portland metropolitan area.

Series 6 contains 39 photographic prints of billboards and murals in the Portland area in color and black-and-white. Some black-and-white prints are identified as to specific locations of illegal billboards and most other locations could be identified by landmarks.

Use of the Collection

Preferred Citation :  

Oregon Roadside Council Records, Coll 22, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The collection is organized into the following 12 series:

  • Series 1: General Correspondence, 1974-2002
  • Series 2: Robert Ellis Hale, Jr., Materials, 1982-1992
  • Series 3: Lists, 1981-200; undated
  • Series 4: Meeting Files, 1981-1998
  • Series 5: Newsletters, 1979-2003
  • Series 6: Photographs, circa 1980-circa 1990
  • Series 7: Position papers, 1980-1986, undated
  • Series 8: Reports, 1979, 2001
  • Series 9: Billboards and outdoor sign files, 1960-2001
  • Series 10: Lloyd Keefe files, 1981-1986
  • Series 11: Alexander Pierce files, 1981-2002
  • Series 12: General files, circa 1981-1988
Acquisition Information :  

Gift of Betty and Keith Claycomb, 2004 May 20, Library Accession 25440.

Related Materials :  

Additional records of the Oregon Roadside Council can be found in Mss 2254 and 2254-1; Mss 1108, Oregon Council for the Protection of Roadside Beauty; and the David Charlton papers, Mss 1900; all in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library Manuscript Collection.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series 1:  General correspondence, 1974-2000
1/1 Brochure for Oregon Roadside Council undated
1/2 Correspondence
Mostly regarding Multnomah County zoning ordinance concerning outdoor advertising signs, including various ordinance drafts.
1/3 Correspondence 1981-1982
1/4 Correspondence 1983
1/5 Correspondence 1984
1/6 Correspondence 1985
1/7 Correspondence 1986
1/8 Correspondence 1987-1990
1/9 Correspondence 1991-1996
1/10 Correspondence 1997-1998
1/11 Correspondence 2001-2002

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Series 2:  Robert Hale Ellis, Jr., Files, 1982-1992
2/1 Robert Hale Ellis, Jr., estate 1982-1992
2/2 Memorial 1990-1991

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Series 3:  Lists, 1981-2000
2/3 Board of Directors 1981-2000
2/4 Mailings undated

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Series 4:  Meeting Files, 1981-1998
2/5 Agendas and notices, annual meeting 1981-1993
2/6 Agendas and notices, Board of Directors 1983-1993
2/7 Minutes, Board of Directors [incomplete] 1980-1989
2/8 Minutes, Board of Directors [incomplete] 1990-1991
2/9 Minutes, Board of Directors [incomplete] 1992-1998

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Series 5:  Newsletters, 1979-2003
3/1 Oregon Roadside Council, The Roadsider [incomplete] 1980-1985
3/2 Oregon Roadside Council, The Roadsider [incomplete] 1986-2000

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Series 6:  Photographs, circa 1980-circa 1990
3/4 Photographic prints of billboards and murals, Portland area
Includes four color Polaroid prints, 11 color photographic prints, and 24 black-and-white photographic prints, some identified by location.
circa 1980-circa 1990

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Series 7:  Position papers, 1980-1986
3/5 Billboards in Portland and Multnomah County 1980-1986
3/6 Recommended sign regulations for the city of Portland undated

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Series 8:  Reports, 1979-2001
3/7 "Comparison of billboard regulations in commercial and industrial zones : removal of billboards by amortization" 1979 July
3/8 "Report to the membership" 2001 February

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Series 9:  Billboards and outdoor sign files, 1960-2002
Articles 1960-1994
3/9 Floyd, Charles F., "Requiem for the highway beautification act," in APA Journal 1982
3/10 Floyd, Charles F., "Should billboards be subject to road use fees?" in Transportation quarterly 1982 Oct.
3/11 Stevenson, Charles, "The great billboard scandal of 1960," in Reader's digest 1960 Mar.
3/12 Articles, general circa 1980-1994
3/13 Brochures and catalogs undated
3/14-17 Clippings 1975-2002
3/18 Foster and Kleiser correspondence
Mostly thank you letters used as support of the advertising company's position against restrictive ordinances against billboards and outdoor signs.
3/19 Multnomah County Billboard Advisory Committee 1982
3/20 Multnomah County billboard questionnaire results 1981
3/21-22 Multnomah County Outdoor Advertising Ordinance—Proposed amendments 1975-1983
Portland, City of
3/23 Municipal code, Title 32, Signs 1970
3/24 Municipal code, Chapter 33.92—Special sign regulations 1982 July 17 (effective)
3/25 Sign Review Committee 1980-1984
3/26 Downtown development zone, Chapter 33.56 undated
4/1 City Club of Portland—Research on billboard evaluation 2001
4/2 Portland Garden Club—Inventory of sign faces and structures scheduled to be removed 1977 Jan.
4/3 Report: Floyd, Charles F., "An analysis of the Federal Highway Administration's highway beautification deregulation act of 1983" 1983
4/4 San Diego, City of, Planning Department, "Revision of city-wide sign regulations" 1983 Sept. 16
4/5 U.S. Department of Transportation, opinion of the General Counsel, "Whether a provision allowing states to permit nonconforming sign removal by Amortization rather than monetary compensation is constitutional" 1986
4/6 U.S. District Court, District of Oregon, final judgement, Ackerley Communications, Inc. v. The City of Portland, re: outdoor advertising signs. 1982 Aug. 30
4/7 U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Title 23, United States code, highways 1992 Jan. 8 (updated through)

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Series 10:  Lloyd Keefe files, 1985-1986
4/8 Correspondence 1981-1986
4/9 Report, "Status of billboard regulations in Portland" 1982 Mar. 5

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Series 11:  Alexander Pierce files, 1981-2002
4/10 Billboard location lists, Portland undated
4/11-12 Correspondence 1982-2002
4/13 Committee member, Multnomah County Citizen Involvement 1988-1989
4/14 Committee member, West Side Community Focus 1988-1989
4/15 Manuscript notes and letter drafts circa 1970-1999
Position papers 1992-1998
4/16 "Portland's billboard problem" 1998 Aug.
4/17 "Portland's billboards" 1992 Feb. 26
4/18 "Portland's sign environment" 1997 Aug.
4/19 "The status of sign control and what can be done about it" 1997 June 7
4/20 Presentation on billboards 1998 Aug. 20
4/21 "Portland's wall painted signs : a status report"
Prepared as editor, Portland Beautification Association
1993 July

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Series 12:  General files, circa 1981-1988
4/22 Coalition for Scenic Beauty and Center for Sign Control—Ordinance information packet re: roadside signage 1985
4/23 Coalition for Scenic Beauty and Center for Sign Control—General 1986-1988
4/24 Columbia River Gorge—Clippings undated
4/25 Columbia River Gorge—Legislative review, "A comparison of Governors Attiyeh and Spellman's 'Principles for legislation on the management of the Columbia River Gorge,' and Senate Bill 627" circa 1982
4/26 Forest Park Neighborhood Association (Portland), Development Committee—Testimony against KING Broadcasting Company facility 1988 Oct. 6
4/27 Friends of the Columbia River Gorge—Position paper, "Legislative concepts for a national scenic area in the Columbia Gorge" circa 1981
4/28 Friends of the Columbia River Gorge—General 1981-1982
4/29 National Coalition to Preserve Scenic Beauty 192-1984

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This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Personal Names :
  • Ellis, Robert H.
  • Corporate Names :
  • Oregon Roadside Council
  • Geographical Names :
  • Multnomah County (Or.)--Environmental conditions
  • Oregon--Environmental conditions
  • Subject Terms :
  • Billboards--Law and legislation--Oregon
  • Environmentalism--Oregon
  • Environmentalists--Oregon
  • Roadside improvement--Oregon
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Correspondence
    • Minutes
    • Photographic prints
    • Other Creators :
    • Pierce, Alexander Bolton--Archives

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