Item SR1264_Transcript - Oral history interview with Helen J. Frye [Transcript]

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Oral history interview with Helen J. Frye [Transcript]


  • 2002-01-09 - 2002-05-20 (Creation)


Transcript; 131 pages

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Helen Jackson Frye was born in Klamath County, Oregon, in 1930 and grew up in Klamath Falls. Her father died when she was 3. Shortly afterward, her mother and brother caught tuberculosis and were hospitalized, so she was raised by her grandparents. Frye was reunited with the mother and brother when she was in the fourth grade, and it was a difficult experience that influenced her later rulings in juvenile court. She attended the University of Oregon, and while in college, she met William Frye. They married in 1952, and in 1953, she earned a degree in English. She then began working on her master's degree, but left school after she became pregnant. She and William Frye continued to live in Eugene. They had three children, and she taught in public schools. In 1960, she finished her master's degree. She decided to go to law school in 1963, and graduated from the University of Oregon law school in 1966. She practiced law in Eugene, eventually joining her husband's law firm. She was appointed by Governor Tom McCall to Lane County Circuit Court in 1971. She and William Frye divorced in 1975, and she and Peter Holloman were married in 1980. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Oregon by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, becoming Oregon's first woman federal judge. She took senior status in 1995. Some of her most notable cases relate to Rajneeshpuram, spotted owls, and workplace discrimination against women. She died in 2011.

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Transcript. This oral history interview with Helen J. Frye was conducted by Clark Hansen at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, from January 9 to May 20, 2002. In this interview, Frye discusses her family background and early life in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She talks about her mother and brother contracting tuberculosis; how she was raised by her grandparents; and her early education. She then discusses attending the University of Oregon, including her professors; her involvement in student government and politics in general; and meeting Bill Frye and their subsequent marriage. She talks about teaching high school in Eugene, raising a family, and returning to the University of Oregon to study law.Frye briefly discusses practicing law in Eugene and specializing in adoption. She talks about serving as a judge on the Lane County Circuit Court, including her appointment by Governor Tom McCall. She also discusses serving as a judge on the U.S. District Court, including her appointment by President Jimmy Carter. She talks about the cases she heard; judges she served with; and court procedure. She discusses sentencing; the role of dissent in lower courts; and the role of juries. She closes the interview by discussing her legal philosophy and how her opinions have evolved over the years.

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Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and the U.S. District Court of Oregon Historical Society. Use is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted:

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  • English

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499.2 KiB


July 6, 2020 12:06 PM

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