Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Stephen Moore

Second Committee Member

Daniel Herman

Third Committee Member

Brian Carroll


This thesis examines race relations amid dramatic social changes caused by the migration of African Americans and other Southerners into Portland, Oregon during World War II. The migrants lived in a housing project named Vanport and an exploration behind Portlanders’ negative opinion of newcomers will be undertaken. A history of African Americans in Oregon will open the paper and the analysis of events leading up to a 1948 flood that destroyed the housing project and resulted in a refugee and housing crisis will comprise the middle of the paper. Lastly, an examination of whether or not an improvement in race relations occurred following the community’s response in aiding flood victims will close the paper. The paper also addresses larger regional context such as the effects of World War II in the western United States and the Second Great Migration.