Welcome to the Guild's Lake Courts History Project

These image shows only part of the massive Guild's Lake Courts development
 Photographer Hugh Ackroyd c. 1945 (Tom Robinson)

         This website highlights many years of my research on a a little known defense era public housing project in Portland, Oregon. The massive Guild's Lake Courts public housing development was designed by eight design firms in 1942 and built out  in just a few short months.  Guild's Lake Courts was filled to capacity with 10,000 residents from 1943-1946 had a population decline from 1946-1948 only to return to wartime population numbers in 1948-49 and was eliminated by 1951.  My research focused on the childhood experiences of home front children because the majority of former residents I connected with over the years were children during WWII.  I am sharing images and video gathered at various events aimed to uncover the hidden history of Guild's Lake Courts and to highlight the themes of the childhood crusaders and shifting race relations in the 1940s. 
         In the Summer of 2011, I volunteered to help staff at the Portland Public School system to create one of three pilot neighborhood based local history curriculums for at risk students entering ninth grade.  The students are to learn about using primary source documents and to learn reading, writing and geography skills for five weeks, Guild's Lake is just one story line being used.  After burning disks, sharing flash drives, e-mailing links I felt that trying to build a website might be a more classroom supportive measure.  The image below, of children playing on a simple wooden playground, like so many images on this site, was shared with me by former residents.  Gloria Cash brought this image to the reunion "Show and Tell" event in 2008 at the NW Public Library.  When Gloria's family moved to Guild's Lake Courts in 1944 they lived in the black section of the development furthest from Montgomery Wards.  She was enrolled in the  Fruit and Flower nursery at the first facility the organization took over after World War II until it too closed in 1951.  During the war years five nursery/lower grade schools operated throughout the 300 acer site.  During the war  Gloria Cash is bouncing on the board with a white bow in her hair. 
         I do not intend this site to be comprehensive hence the various links to other site to help round out the historic perspective of the experience of the WWII era in Oregon.  The site is intended to assist students and teachers to easily access primary source documents.  (I will include the text of my dissertation but I assume that that will be of little use for students.) Shipyards encouraged women workers Portland Public Schools produced a handbook to encourage women to use facilities provided to aid the female labor force.  The Oregon History Project has a number of interesting links to the issue of women at work in WWII.  What I learned as I hunted through the existing oral histories was that historians like Amy Kesselman had only collected and used interviews of former residents of Vanport to explore labor and housing conditions in the Portland region.  I was not able to replicate their work with a focus on a different housing project because that cohort of woman had passed on so instead I used William Tuttle's studies of American  homefront children as a compass. The Oregon State Archives also has an impressive site that like many sources focuses on the Kaiser Child Care Centers in general these Kaiser centers are architectural marvels but were virtually exclusively for white families.  Interesting at Guild's Lake Courts was that the Guilds Lake public school and the childcare was interracial.        

Thank you,
Dr. Tanya Lyn March


All of the reunions were video taped.  The full taping and the audio tapes from willing former resident volunteers have been deposited for public use at the Portland Archives and Record Center.  I have tried to capture many segments from these tapes which you can use directly from this site at links like the one just below this sentence: