I was amazed when I found this fragment from Opal's lost diary! The
fragment is one quarter of an 8/11 page - torn. It was torn both
lengthwise and then across. It was clearly torn on purpose. It is not
dated - but is likely from her 12th year in Dorena, Oregon in 1908.
Opal always maintained that her sister tore up the diary. This scrap of paper may solve one of Opal's mysteries. It would strongly support that Opal did keep a diary and it was torn up as she claimed she did. She also said that she kept her diary in school composition notebooks as this piece is from. Read the exciting full story here.
Here is a newspaper article, written in 1933 by Elbert Bede where he say he has definitely established that Opal wrote a diary as a small child, and it was torn up. Elbert Bede was Opal's strongest critic. However, here he says that two people, a man and a woman, saw Opal's original diary written with crayons on scraps of paper. Some critics charge that Opal did not start keeping a diary until she was 12 or 14. Bede's 1933 article is evidence she did keep a child's diary.
This letter is from a religious leader
and attorney in Oregon, Evert Baker. He and his wife were her
patrons in the Junior Christian
Endeavor. In the letter, Evert says that he had
"always" known that Opal was adopted and had been a "homeless
child". Evert Baker's sermon in 1911 inspired Opal to teach
children. This letter is dated June 2, 1920 - just after the
first printing in the Atlantic Monthly. Baker often introduced her as
an orphan at gatherings. He does not take
a position on the French parentage question.
The years of Opal's involvement with the
Christian Endeavor (1911 - 1918) were some of the happiest and most
productive of her
life. Christian Endeavor was a very progressive youth organization. CE
had an African-American man as a board trustee in 1900. CE leaders were
deeply involved in
the labor rights struggles of the early 1900's. They were also early
foes of the tobacco industry selling cigarettes to young people.
Read the Opal's CE story here!
This is a 1916 Freshman writing assignment of Opal's. It is a
short 520 word story about the death of a lumberjack. It may also
contain important clues for how Opal felt at the University of Oregon.
Many students from rural areas felt intimated by the
town/gown/urban/rural splits. Along with her text are scans from
Opal's original handwritten assignment. There is also a
Commentary at the end of the scans by Steve Williamson and a short
article about time at the UO.
Without Fred Ure there would have been no Opal
Whiteley Memorial. Fred's two sons, Doug & David also helped us
build Opal Park, the sculpture garden and wildlife sanctuary. Then,
these boys did something really special ... helped stop a school
shooting. Read their story from LIFE Magazine here.
The Opal Whiteley Memorial began in 1994 with our first
celebration of her life and writings in Cottage Grove. Since then we
have done many other
events and activities. Read about our work to discover the truth behind
the mystery of "Princess" Opal Whiteley and efforts to restore her
Directed by Dr. Lynne Anderson & CATE, Center for Advanced Technology in Education
Stephen Williamson is a Research Assistant on this exciting and educational project