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Oregon students urged to raise funds to restore Constitution


The Oregon State Archives on Wednesday invited Oregon’s schoolchildren to be part of history by helping to restore and regularly display Oregon’s Constitution.

Our original state Constitution from 1857 is weathered and its binding is in need of repair, and due to security and preservation concerns, the Constitution is kept locked away from public view, except on very rare occasions.

Oregon’s current generation of school children have a chance to change that.

By participatingin the Oregon Constitution Challenge, Oregon’s schoolchildren can helprestore and regularly display Oregon’s original state Constitution by funding a professional restoration of the historic document and a secure, climate-controlled display case for regular public viewing at the State Archives in Salem.

The Oregon Constitution Challenge:Approximately $60,000 is needed to restore and regularly display the Oregon Constitution. Each school that raises a total of $250 or more by May 31st toward that goal will have its school name engraved on a plaque displayed with the original Constitution at the State Archives in Salem, so every future generation to view the Constitution will appreciate the contribution of the school.

The Oregon Constitution Challenge is open to all public, private, and charter schools throughout Oregon. There are more than 600,000 schoolchildren in Oregon. If each student contributes just 10 cents each, then Oregon’s schoolchildren can put this project on a path to success.

In the early 1980’s, Oregon’s schoolchildren helped raise money to regild the Golden Pioneer on top of the Capitol Building in Salem. That effort helped engage a generation of Oregon schoolchildren in protecting and preserving an enduring symbol of our state and its democracy.

Following on that effort, the Oregon State Archives hopes to engage another generation of Oregon schoolchildren in protecting and preserving our state Constitution. Our Constitution is both an important symbol of our democracy and the founding legal document upon which Oregon was built. It deserves to be restored and regularly displayed, and Oregon’s schoolchildren are invited to help in that effort.

Oregon’s Constitution was drafted in 1857 and has had been through a lot in its lifespan so far. In 1880, for example, Oregon’s Secretary of State found it rolled up in the back of a safe, and later the Constitution survived the fire that burned down Oregon’s earlier Capitol building in 1935.

During the fundraising drive, Oregon schoolchildren and their teachers are invited to consider the following civics education questions about Oregon’s Constitution and their state government. In addition, every student submitting a written response to these questions will have their answers permanently added to the holdings at the Oregon State Archives:

How many branches of state government were established by the Oregon Constitution? What are they, and what do they do? How many statewide elected officers were established by the original Oregon Constitution? Why do you think the framers of the Constitution established these different statewide offices? The Oregon Constitution establishes a State Senate with how many members, and a State House of Representatives with how many members? How does the size of the Oregon Legislature established by the Oregon Constitution compare to other states and to the U.S. Congress? How do you think the size of the Oregon Legislature affects how the members of the Legislature work together? Where did the Constitution set the location of the State Capital? Why did the framers in 1857 locate the Capital where they did? Does the Oregon Constitution have its own Bill of Rights? How is it similar, and how is it different, than the Bill of Rights in the Unites States Constitution? The Oregon Constitution was written in 1857, just before the start of the Civil War. How was the issue of slavery and African-American migration to Oregon addressed by the framers of Oregon’s Constitution? What progress has Oregon made on the issue of civil rights over the more than 150 years since the Constitution was adopted? What is the Initiative and Referendum system in Oregon? When was it added to the Oregon Constitution, and why?

Learn more about Oregon’s Constitution at the Oregon State Archives website .

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