14 thoughts on “Vanport School, 1944

  1. Very interesting image. These students appear to be all white. The impression and other images we see from Vanport show primarily African American residents.

    Was this school segregated?

    Bob Clay – Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. Although I started grade school 10 years after this picture, I relate to the boy on the far right–turned up cuffs on the blue jeans. That way they would last a little longer as I grew. And they were not washed after wearing them one time. Times were different.

  3. I had the same question as Bob – I learned that this was primarily a black city, part of early Portland segregation. Puzzling, but I guess if there were white children, they would not have been integrated in 1944.

  4. There’s some information about Vanport starting around page 64 of this report (PDF) from the Bureau of Planning from 1993. Vanport housed both black and white shipyard workers and their families. There was a nondiscrimination policy for public spaces, including schools (adding to the puzzlement of why there are only white students in this photo), but there were accusations that the Housing Authority permitted, overlooked, and even facilitated segregation in housing assignments.

  5. Ooops, looks like I didn’t get the URL to that 1993 Bureau of Planning Report to work right. Google “The History of Portland’s African American Community (1805 to the Present)”

  6. I’ve read a couple different numbers over the years that brokedown the population in Vanport. Both articles stated that at no time did blacks make up more than 30%. It’s been a while, but the number struck me because it’s been implied and passed on that it was a predominantly black community. I believe one of the articles was from Oregon Historical Quarterly.

  7. Oregon Encyclopedia:
    “Vanport was racially segregated. For the record, HAP stated that the clearly demarcated color lines there and at smaller war-housing projects were the result of free choice among available apartments, but tenants were steered to different sections on the basis of race. Vanport’s black residents found integrated schools but segregated medical facilities. They also faced nasty incidents when the sheriff’s office tried to enforce informal segregation of recreational facilities, claiming that mixed use might lead to trouble. As late as February 1945, the Housing Authority and city and state officials met to discuss “the possibilities, effects and desirability of various types of housing to be restricted to negro occupancy.””
    http://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/vanport

  8. There’s a couple sassy hair-dos in this pic. Especially the blond fella between the two girls. Is the lad on the end in detention? He looks a little glum. And can anyone make out the title of the book on the right? Finally, look at those sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. Takes me back.

  9. I never see pictures of African-Americans from Vanport…..especially sine it was AA who were primarily affected long term by the affects of the floods. White privileges at its best; conveniently able to leave out history whenever.

  10. I attended Marshal grade school in 1943 through the first half of 1948 in Vanport City. The black people were kind of segregated. as of their living area, We lived close to them and they were allowed to move around among us. We all ere flooded out of Vanport in 1948. We and most lost all but what we had on our backs. We barely made it out. I was in the local theater when the dike broke. My Grandfather owned a 1939 Plymouth or Chrysler sedan so we had a ride out. The lines were very long. We lived on Victory street between two streams. These were almost filled in after the flood.

  11. Please join us for free screenings of Vanport oral history, part of the Vanport Mosaic Festival (www.vanportmosaic.org). Through archival footage, historic photographs, and compelling first-person narratives, this collection of short films creates a rich and elaborate “mosaic” of the vibrant community that made up the city of Vanport. RSVP here: https://lostcity.eventbrite.com

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