Metro’s 14 historic cemeteries total 66 acres in Multnomah County and provide an important service for families throughout greater Portland. Six of the cemeteries are still open for new sales.
The cemeteries are managed as active facilities, offering scenic tranquility and a unique window into the region’s history. Most were established between 1850 and 1870. The cemeteries are open to visitors and provide opportunities for historic research, bird watching and contemplation in a natural setting.
Telling stories of women buried at Metro's cemeteries
When it comes to writing historical biographies, one of the reasons the same figures show up in book after book is simply the wealth of information they left behind. There is so much readily available stuff for biographers and historians to draw on to tell and retell their stories.
The same is true of the people buried at Metro’s 14 historic cemeteries. These cemeteries stand as the most visible landmarks of the beginning of the colonization of greater Portland by white pioneers, and the stories we have of the people buried at them are mostly of men, men considered important, men who left records. Their stories are readily available, so they get told.
For women to register similar historic records it required incandescent lives like the one lived by doctor and suffragist Esther Pohl Lovejoy. Death too was unrecorded. Many of the cemeteries’ female residents were buried under their husband’s name, their death record calling them Mrs. Husband’s Name, their own names never memorialized.
Throughout 2020, Metro dug into the historical records to learn more about some of the women buried at its historic cemeteries and make their stories known. A grant from the Oregon Heritage Commission allowed Metro to hire a researcher to compile material and write short biographies of these women. In 2021, Metro published the stories, offering the public a chance to get to know a few of the remarkable women buried at the region’s historical cemeteries.
From “Finding her story: women at Metro’s cemeteries”