Name and location of repository
Level of description
Oral history interview with Lewis L. McArthur
- 2001-01-19 - 2001-02-15 (Creation)
0.1 cubic feet; 11 audiocassettes (9 hr., 48 min., 16 sec.)
Name of creator
Lewis Linn McArthur was born in 1917 in Portland, Oregon. He studied economics at the University of California at Berkeley, and served in the U.S. Army in the Aleutian Islands during World War II. After the war, he worked for 40 years as an industrial engineer for the Ray F. Becker Company.
McArthur's father, Lewis A. McArthur, was the author of Oregon Geographic Names in 1928. Though Lewis L. McArthur was not formally trained as a historian, he was most well known for continuing his father's work in studying and compiling the history of place names in Oregon. He served on the Oregon Geographic Names Board from 1958 to 2006, and between 1974 and 2003, he published the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh editions of Oregon Geographic Names. McArthur also served on the state historic preservation committee and the Historic Columbia River Highway State Advisory Committee.
McArthur and Joyce Abigail Clark of Eugene, Oregon, married in 1946. The couple had four children: Lewis, Mary, Sarah, and Susan. Lewis L. McArthur died in 2018 at the age of 101.
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
This oral history interview with Lewis L. McArthur was conducted by Sieglinde Smith at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Oregon, from January 19 to February 15, 2001, as part of the oral history program at the society's research library. The interview was conducted in five sessions.
In the first interview session, conducted on January 19, 2001, McArthur discusses his family background and early life in the Green Hills neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, including his education, the house he grew up in, and his recreational activities. He describes the neighborhood and talks about people who lived there. He also speaks about his parents' personalities, travels, and social lives.
In the second interview session, conducted on January 23, 2001, McArthur continues to discuss his early life in the Green Hills neighborhood and talks about his relationship with his parents. He speaks about the work of his father, Lewis A. McArthur, on Oregon Geographic Names and about traveling with him by train in the 1920s for research. He discusses his college experience at the University of California, Berkeley, and talks about working for U.S. Steel Company in the late 1930s. He then talks about his experiences in the U.S. Army while stationed in Alaska during World War II.
In the third interview session, conducted on February 1, 2001, McArthur speaks further about working for the U.S. Steel Company and about his experiences in the U.S. Army during World War II, including studying Mandarin Chinese. He talks about his marriage to Joyce A. Clark. He then speaks at length about his career as an industrial designer for the Ray F. Becker Company, and talks about products the company produced, about the steel fabrication process, and about buildings the company worked on, particularly gas stations. He talks about how Oregon has changed during the 20th century, particularly regarding housing development, transportation, and power generation.
In the fourth interview session, conducted on February 8, 2001, McArthur shares his memories of the Columbia River before the construction of hydroelectric dams, and talks about how the Columbia River Gorge changed. He briefly discusses serving on the state advisory committee on historic preservation in the 1970s, and then talks about his recreational activities on Mount Hood, including climbing and camping on the mountain, and repairing the Snowshoe Cabin, the Cloud Cap Inn, and other buildings.
In the fifth interview session, conducted on February 15, 2001, McArthur discusses his role models, including his family members, and talks about construction projects that impressed him, including dams on the Columbia River and the Bay Bridge in California. He also speaks about mapmaking. He shares his childhood memories of attending meetings of the Pioneer Association, riding the streetcar, and traveling with his family. He compares travel by various modes of transportation, particularly air and rail. He revisits the topic of his father's work on Oregon Geographic Names, then speaks at length about his own work on later editions of the book and about his service on the state advisory committee on historic preservation. He describes his favorite places in Oregon, and talks about raising a family.
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Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Joint copyright for this interview is held by the Oregon Historical Society and the estate of Lewis L. McArthur. Use is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright – Non-Commercial Use Permitted, https://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-NC/1.0/
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Immediate source of acquisition
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Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Lewis L. McArthur's papers, Coll 854, and several additional sound recordings, SR 62, SR 2608, SR 2955, SR 2956, SR 2957, SR 9469, and SR 11092, are also available at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Lewis L. McArthur, by Sieglinde Smith, SR 2526, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
An incomplete transcript (177 pages) is available for in-person use at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.