written by Lynette Boone, University of Oregon
Blacklist- During the early 1950's anyone who opposed the investigations carried out by Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee was likely to be branded as a communist sympathizer and blacklisted. Blacklisting meant that a person was considered undesirable for employment and any company who did hire the person was vulnerable to investigation by McCarthy's committee. The entertainment industry was particularly hard hit. Many writers, directors, producers and musicians had their career's ruined and could not find work for a decade or more.
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA)- was founded in 1937 under the Bonneville Project Act with its primary responsibility being the marketing of power produced by the Bonneville Dam. The dam was then under construction on the Columbia River about 45 miles east of Portland, Oregon. In 1940, BPA's marketing responsibilities were broadened to include the power from Grand Coulee Dam in central Washington. Today the BPA sells the power produced by these two dams as well as power produced by Washington Nuclear Plant 2 at Richland, Washington. The Bonneville Power Administration sells about 46 percent of the electric power consumed in the Northwest. Bonneville primarily serves the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and the portion of Montana west of the Continental Divide. BPA also serves portions of California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming and sells surplus power to California and southwestern states.
Celilo Falls was an important site for Native Americans who lived in the area and harvested salmon making their way upstream to spawn. They had gathered, traded and participated in cultural and religious ceremonies at the falls for generations. When Woody Guthrie toured the Columbia in the Spring of 1941 he observed and spoke with the Native fishermen scooping salmon from the river as they stood on huge platforms built along the riverbank. Celilo Falls was inundated by the Dalles Dam in March 1957.
Cold War- Refers to the ideological conflict between the U.S. and the USSR starting right after WW2 and lasting until fall of the Berlin Wall and unification of Germany.
Department of the Interior- Congress created the department of the Interior in 1849 to take charge of the internal development of the nation and the welfare of its people. Prior to 1977 the Bonneville Power Administration was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior. In 1977 the B.P.A. became an agency of the Department of Energy.
Dust Bowl- In the 1930's, drought and agricultural practices that had lead to soil erosion caused horrific dust storms in the once-fertile lands of mid-America. Thousands of destitute farmers packed their families and belongings into their cars and set out in search of agricultural work on the west coast. The dust bowl immigrants were sometimes called "Okies" and often ended up living in slum-like migrant camps performing backbreaking work for low wages. The dust bowl migrants who came to the Northwest were among the people Woody Guthrie had in mind as he wrote about the benefits that hydroelectric power would bring to the region.
Flood of 1948 (Vanport Flood)- Vanport was Oregon's second largest city in May of 1948 when the Columbia flooded and a wall of water broke the dike destroying the community. Thirty-eight people died; 5,000 homes were destroyed; 100,000 had to be evacuated and 35,000 residents were left homeless.
Great Depression- The period in American history that directly followed the 1929 collapse of the Stock Market and lasted until the early 1940's. By 1932 approximately one out of every four Americans was unemployed. The following year, the value of stock on the New York stock exchange was less than a fifth of what it had been at its peak in 1929. Businesses closed their doors, factories shut down and banks failed. Many people lost their life savings.
Holding Companies- A company that controls other companies through stock ownership but that usually does not engage directly in their productive operations.
House Committee on Un-American Activities- During the McCarthy period, this committee investigated those it considered likely to be members of the Communist Party. In 1955, Pete Seeger, like many liberal activist entertainers, was investigated by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Arlo Guthrie has speculated that his father, Woody Guthrie, was spared similar treatment only because of his debilitation from Huntington's Chorea.
Huntington's Chorea- also known as Huntington's Disease is a chronic degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by progressive mental deterioration and involuntary movements. The DNA marker linked to the Huntington's Disease gene has been identified but, there is currently no known cure. Woody Guthrie inherited the gene for the disease from his mother. He was diagnosed with Huntington's Chorea in 1952 and died from it in 1967.
McCarthyism- Refers to Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-Communist crusade.
New Deal- Roosevelt's New Deal programs were characterized by a philosophy that greater government involvement and regulation would solve many of the country's problems. The building of Bonneville and Grand Coulee dams were two of the many large public works projects included in The New Deal.
PUDs (Public Utility Districts)- A People's Utility District is a body of local government that provides utility services, generally electricity and water, in a specified community area. PUDs are formed or exist in areas where a majority of the public has sought local ownership and control of their utility. A PUD can usually offer lower costs because its products and services are sold at cost-based rates. There is no profit added in. The PUD Board of Directors is elected by the consumer/owners who are residents of the PUD community.
Red Scare- In American history there have been two periods of intense national preoccupation or fear of communist influence in government and public life. The first instance occurred in the period 1919-1921 and was triggered by the Russian Revolution. Similarly, during the cold war, fear of communist infiltration gave rise to McCarthyism.
Substation- is a subsidiary station in which electric current is transformed. In 1969, in a joint project of the Bonneville Power Administration and the Hood River Electric Cooperative a substation was built near the small, Hood River valley town of Odell, Oregon. Interior Secretary Stewart Udall had pledged to name a substation in Guthrie's honor in 1966 when he was given the government's Conservation Service Award. Some people living in the area protested naming the substation after Guthrie because of his association with left wing political organizations.
Tennessee Valley Authority (T.V.A.)- was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 as part of the New Deal. Its immediate mission was to improve living standards for people living in the Tennessee Valley during the depression. During this time the T.V.A. tackled such problems as flood control, malaria prevention, reforestation and soil erosion. The T.V.A. built dams on the region's rivers, which generated electricity, controlled floods, improved navigation, and attracted industry to the region. Some Northwest progressives lobbied in the 1930's for the creation of a Columbia Valley Authority (CVA) modeled on the TVA.