Letitia Carson Legacy Project Debuts Digital History Collection

Salem, OR – The Letitia Carson Legacy Project presents the Letitia Carson Digital History Collection, an online database to support the continued study of Letitia Carson. This new resource is made possible by a 2021 grant from Oregon Heritage.

The Letitia Carson Legacy Project (LCLP)’s new Digital History Collection compiles all available primary and secondary sources about Letitia Carson and her family, including court documents, legal filings, newspaper clippings and photos. The Digital History Collection also compiles existing scholarship about Letitia Carson from journals, videos, and academic papers. This powerful, free research tool is built using the Omeka online exhibitions platform.

The LCLP aims to support contemporary Black land ownership, environmental stewardship and education in the example of Letitia Carson, and is a collaboration between Oregon State University, Oregon Black Pioneers, Black Oregon Land Trust, and Linn-Benton Branch NAACP.

Letitia Carson was a Black Oregon homesteader, farmer and matriarch living in the time of Oregon's exclusion laws. In 1852 Letitia successfully sued for compensation after her land, cattle and belongings were sold in a probate auction by a neighbor who claimed that as a Black woman, Letitia could not own land. In 1868, Letitia successfully filed a Homestead Act claim, making her a rare example of a Black woman landowner in 19th century Oregon.

"The Letitia Carson Digital History Collection will enhance public access to and interpretation of the primary source materials pertaining to Letitia Carson's story," said LCLP member Larry Landis, retired director of Oregon State University’s Special Collections Archives and Research Center.

Qiddist Ashé, Executive Director of Black Oregon land Trust wrote, “Sharing the story of Letitia Carson is shifting the narrative of Black women’s historical relationship with land in Oregon. Through witnessing her journey, we can more clearly see the future we are creating: one where Black land ownership and agriculture is visible and thriving.”

Jason J. Dorsette, President of Linn Benton NAACP added, “We remain unequivocally steadfast to fully operationalizing the LCLP and ask that other racially and socially conscious individuals and organizations join us in on our collective efforts.”

Lauren Gwin, Associate Director of OSU Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems added, “The Letitia Carson Legacy Project is an incredible opportunity for Oregon State University to live and breathe our core values of inclusive excellence and social responsibility. I am honored to be in partnership with OBP, BOLT, and NAACP as we celebrate Letitia’s story and legacy, to connect past with present, history with restorative justice.”

“Letitia Carson is one of the most remarkable figures in Oregon history” shared Zachary Stocks, Executive Director of Oregon Black Pioneers. “This new digital history collection will be a powerful resource for all those interested in better understanding the experiences of Black Oregonians during the 19th century”.

The Digital History Collection is just the latest in a series of offerings presented by the
LCLP in 2022:

  • Archaeological field school on the Carson lands
  • Juneteenth Open House and public archaeology event
  • Field trip with students and teachers from Letitia Carson Elementary School
  • New Letitia Carson traveling exhibit at the Douglas County Museum

The Letitia Carson Digital History Website can be accessed at letitiacarson.omeka.net.

For more information about the Letitia Carson Legacy Project, visit letitiacarson.oregonstate.edu