Agricultural Heritage

Land of Milk and Honey: Illuminated Slides Show Our Region’s Food History

Join the Oregon Historical Society and the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver for a unique look at our past: a pictorial history of food in the Northwest from 1850-1940, with an emphasis on the agricultural bounty that makes it one of the best places to eat in the world. Culinary historian Heather Arndt Anderson (author of Portland: A Food Biography) and Oregon Historical Society archivist Matthew Cowan will present a collection of historic glass lantern slides—hand-colored and projected using an original 1930s projector—depicting the region’s cornucopia and the stories behind them. The presentation will be held at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd. in Vancouver, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 8. The event is free and open to everyone.

The lantern slide had its origins in 17th century optical devices, which came to be known as “magic lanterns.” The earliest slides were hand-painted images on glass. By 1850, slides were beginning to be reproduced from negatives and sold commercially, mostly black and white images that were then hand-colored. Do-it-yourself kits were also sold, and amateur photographers, museum, and universities often created their own lantern slides for entertainment or education. Photographic type lantern slides reached the peak of their popularity in the first third of the 20th century. The Oregon Historical Society curates a large collection of lantern slides, documenting many aspects of the early history of the state.

“There is a beauty and depth to hand-colored lantern slides,” says Curator Theresa Langford. “This is a unique opportunity for the public to see original glass slides projected on historic equipment, as Heather and Matthew chronicle the history around the images.”