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JPR and SOU Laboratory of Anthropology receive 2022 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award for Underground History

Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology Director Chelsea Rose (L) holds the 2022 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award won by SOULA and Jefferson Public Radio. She is joined by (L to R) Jefferson Exchange producers Angela Decker and John Baxter, and JX host Geoffrey Riley.

Jefferson Public Radio and Southern Oregon University’s Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) are recipients of a 2022 Oregon Heritage Excellence Award. The award recognizes individuals, organizations, and projects that have made outstanding contributions to preserving Oregon’s heritage.

JPR and SOULA were honored by Oregon Heritage, a program of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, for Underground History — a multi-platform project that spotlights little-known aspects of Oregon’s history through the lens of archaeology.

Underground History includes a monthly radio segment on JPR's civic affairs program, the Jefferson Exchange, a bi-monthly article in the JPR member magazine, The Jefferson Journal, and a series of live events held prior to the pandemic. The project is produced by SOULA Director Chelsea Rose and the Jefferson Exchange production team, which includes Geoffrey Riley, John Baxter and Angela Decker.

Underground History began as a single episode on the Jefferson Exchange in 2016 under the direction of former Jefferson Exchange Producer Emily Cureton and hosted by SOULA's Chelsea Rose and Mark Tveskov. Over the years, it has evolved to include a wide range of programs that connect scholars, researchers, and local history projects with JPR's large regional audience. Jefferson Exchange Producer John Baxter says, "The power of the program lies in its ability to provide historical context to current events and to uncover surprising and sometimes difficult truths about our history."

Guests on the program have included university affiliated faculty and researchers, tribal leaders, authors, organizations such as the Oregon Black Pioneers, and other individuals approaching heritage issues in new and creative ways.

SOULA Director Chelsea Rose points out, "The Underground History collaboration with JPR has provided SOULA a valuable platform to amplify the important heritage work happening across the region and beyond, and also gives us the opportunity to invite the community in on important conversations about new discoveries, myth-busting, and the reframing of dated narratives in real time." She adds, "After years of regular programming, we now have engaged listeners who feel part of the Underground History family. I love that."

In announcing the recipients of this year's awards, Katie Henry, coordinator for the Oregon Heritage Commission, said: "This year’s award recipients represent projects that serve as inspiration and models for preserving Oregon’s stories, especially the lesser told and untold stories. These projects offer unique opportunities to engage with and learn about Oregon’s diverse heritage and help expand current interpretation.”

Other recipients of 2022 Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards include:

  • Capitol History Gateway Project, Salem: for a multi-year project that resulted in exhibits, events, tours, and a digital welcome center at the Oregon State Capitol building.
  • It Did Happen Here Podcast, Portland: for its podcast that honors the memory of Mulugeta Seraw and records the movement that disrupted White Nationalist organizing in Oregon in the late 1980s and 1990s.

Award winners will be honored at a virtual event on April 28 at 5 p.m. The event is open to the public and is part of the 2022 Virtual Oregon Heritage conference. You can register for the awards event here.