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The City of Portland, Oregon

Archives & Records Management

Office of the City Auditor

phone: 503-865-4100


1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550, Portland, OR 97201

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Reflections on Recreation: The Work of Dorothea M. Lensch


In line with the 3rd Annual Oregon Archives Crawl theme of Celebrating Women, Celebrating Archives, our exhibit this year focuses on the work and legacy of Dorothea Lensch, the City’s Director of Recreation from 1937 to 1972. You can get a preview now but we hope you will join us Saturday, October 6th at the Oregon Archives Crawl.

Excerpts from the exhibit:

Dorothea Lensch lawn bowling in 1949“When Lensch became director in 1937 she presided over a system which included only three indoor winter facilities and was comprised of 7 full-time staff with 33 more in the Summer. By 1956, Lensch had overseen an expansion of her vision of a comprehensive recreation program which now boasted 15 buildings with full or part-time year round programs.”


“Lensch tended to look at programming from the neighborhood level, her belief was that if you could not involve neighborhoods in their own programming there would not be the same level of commitment towards using the programs effectively as when you have involvement and development at the neighborhood level.”

 Portait of Dorothea Lensch circa 1970

In her own words…

“Recreation is a complex force in the life of the individual and of the community.  It is related to the public schools (education), the churches (religion), the welfare agencies (welfare), the social agencies (health), housing and employment organizations.  Recreation is thus people-centered and must make provision for the varied interests, age levels and degrees of ability of the population.” -From Chapter 1 of “The Evolution of Recreation Programs in War Housing Projects in Portland Oregon between the years 1940 and 1960.”

See you October 6th!


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