Marjorie A. Edens and Kay Atwood
Two prominent Southern Oregon oral historians left us this spring, but not without passing on lasting legacies.
Marjorie A. Edens of Jacksonville died April 1, 2014. Marjorie was first a volunteer at the Southern Oregon Historical Society in 1976. She began doing oral history interviews in the late 1970s, and over a span of more than two decades interviewed hundreds of Jackson County residents. Marjorie was also a photographer and a virtuoso transcriber, and her interviews entered the SOHS research library as full assemblages of taped interview, an annotated transcript, contemporary photographs, and copies of historical photographs and supplementary materials. Her interviews contributed to many exhibits and projects for SOHS. Among the topics she excelled in were the social history of the area’s early orchard-growing families, and agriculture and business. She also gave workshops on oral history techniques.
Marjorie participated actively in the town of Jacksonville, supporting historic home tours, the public library, the picturesque city cemetery, and, her special effort, the revival of the gardens on the grounds of the Britt Festivals. The gardens were initially developed by pioneer photographer and horticulturalist Peter Britt (1819-1905). Marjorie’s estate benefits the Jacksonville Boosters Association for the restoration of the gardens.
Kay Atwood of Ashland died on May 24, 2014. Educated in theater and theater design, Kay came from California to Ashland in 1969 to work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but soon also took a hand doing exhibit work for the Southern Oregon Historical Society. She plunged into oral history with what became her first book, Jackson County Conversations (1975), recounting the personal stories of local orchardists. She soon became a regional historian of note, her work characterized by a graceful writing style and deep research.
Kay’s extensive research files and manuscripts were deposited with the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University.
From Richard Engeman, Oregon Rediviva