Dorothy Johansen dies at 95

Dorothy O. Johansen '33, professor emerita of history, died December 13 at age 95. A preeminent historian of the Pacific Northwest, she was honored with the Oregon Women of Achievement award (1957) from Theta Sigma Phi, the C.E.S. Wood Award for lifetime achievement from the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts (1988), and the Captain Robert Gray Award for distinguished achievement in Pacific Northwest history from the Washington State Historical Society (1969 and 1970).

A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Johansen was born in Seaside, Oregon, on May 19, 1904. In 1925 she earned a diploma from the Oregon College of Education and taught in public schools in Seaside, Corvallis, and Yakima before attending Reed. She graduated from Reed in 1933 in history-literature, then worked at the college as a resident adviser. She went on to receive her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Washington. She began teaching at Reed in 1935, launching a distinguished academic career.

A beloved teacher, Johansen also taught summer and visiting sessions at Portland State College, the University of Oregon, Montana State University, and the University of Washington, where the high school teachers she taught called her the "first teacher who could make history live."

While a professor at Reed, Johansen served on the board of directors of the Portland public school district, one of the first women to do so; she implemented a gifted child program that received national attention. A recognized author and editor of many scholarly articles and papers, she also edited Beaver Books, a historical series for children. In 1957 Johansen, with the late Charles Gates, published Empire of the Columbia, a history of Oregon that was a mainstay in classrooms and libraries for years and one of the most important books about the region. It remains one of the standard works on the subject.

In addition to her many publications, Johansen wrote the entries on Oregon, Portland, and Astoria in the World Book Encyclopedia and the entry on Oregon in the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

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