In 1993, a five-alarm fire broke out near the Newberg City Hall causing extensive damage to nearby buildings and the destruction of many of the city’s historic records. The tragic loss made the collections held by George Fox University essential to understanding this historically Quaker settlement.
The city of Newberg's strategic plan developed in 2019, included a goal to explore the establishment of a historic district for downtown Newberg and the surrounding areas. They also want to develop a community aesthetic based on local history and the natural environment. To reach these goals, the city needed a way to evaluate historic land use, business, buildings, architecture, and history in our downtown. The information needed to be compiled in an easy-to- use format that was accessible across the community.
Led by Dr. Caitlin Corning (History), Rachel Thomas (Archives/Library), Jenny Bruxvoort (Library), and Rob Felton (Executive Communication), Mapping Our History is a digital humanities project involving digitally mapping the downtown with overlays that will identify historic land use, structures, events, and artifacts to tell the story of the city. This project features the Newberg Collection held in the George Fox University archives and museum which includes photographs, business records, artifacts, historic newspapers, and university publications. Students answered the question “How has the land use of downtown Newberg changed over time and what does this reveal about the community identity?” Selected students located information in the archival collections, conducted research on specific locations, and created mapping overlays that include images and research.
The information is now displayed in maps available to the entire community.