New book details 150 years of Multnomah County history

September 7, 2012

On Sept. 6, Jewel Lansing and Fred Leeson went before the board to celebrate the publication of their recently published book “Multnomah: The Tumultuous Story of Oregon’s Most Populous County.”

"I can guarantee you're going to find some surprises,” said Lansing, co-author of the book. “One of the things that's interesting about this book is that it really does fill the gap. There isn't anything else that puts it together in one volume what the county has been about."

The book provides insight into people and events from 1854 to present – detailing the history and politics of the state’s most populous county.

The construction of the Columbia River Highway, the library scandal of 1889-1990 and the bringing-forth of same-sex marriage license are just several of the topics in the historic rundown of the county.

"There have been a lot of books written about the history of our different populations in our county, but not before has there been a history book written about our county and about our county's government and how it came to be," said Commissioner Deborah Kafoury noted.

Lansing recalls that her initial goal was to “produce a basic reference work” of Multnomah County history. She has provided plentiful footnotes as a starting point for readers to begin their own research.

“We also tried to include anecdotes and human interest things so that it would be a book that could be enjoyed by a lay audience,” Lansing said.

Readers who are intrigued by history and citizens of the region will be particularly engulfed in the details of the combined archives, oral histories, newspapers and interviews that crafted this 150-year history of Multnomah County.

Lansing served as the elected City of Portland auditor from 1983 to 1986 and was the first woman elected to Multnomah County government as an auditor from 1975 to 1982.

Her and her husband, Ron, a professor at Lewis & Clark College, have lived in Oregon for more than 40 years.

Lansing is the author of six books in subjects varying from woman and politics to a murder mystery. “Portland: People, Politics, and Power – 1851-2001” is another recent work by Lansing.

Leeson is a freelance journalist and adjunct professor of journalism at Concordia University. Leeson was a reporter for The Oregonian and The Oregon Journal and is the author of “Rose City Justice: A Legal History of Portland, Oregon.”