Eugene Saturday Market Photo Essay

For this weeks project I decided to go to the Knight Library’s Special Collections and look up old documents from the 1970s that had talked about the Eugene Saturday Market. I found a lot of history on the Market while I was there. I really liked this project because I love to do research.  I can’t help but think what these materials saw and witnessed at the time they were made. Sometimes I think of myself as an armature historian. A lot of the stuff I already knew about the Market from the interview with Kim Stills. But it was fun to see the actual documents that showed the facts.

Here is my report….

Over the last few days, I went to the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Archive to find documents pertaining to the Eugene Saturday Market. The documents I found dated back almost to the beginning of the Market. Lotte Streisinger, founder of the Eugene Saturday Market back in 1970, wrote a short book on the Market. The book was written in 1974. Another interesting piece of documentation I found were newsletters there were sent out twice a month to active members of the Market.

The fist newsletter printed in 1974

The fist newsletter printed in 1974

In theses newsletters, there were documentation of budgets and financial records along with weekly problems and solutions to the Market. The last piece of documentation I came across were pamphlets talking about the same things that were in the newsletters. It contained news about the market and who was doing what. The pamphlets also contained information about the Markets budget. This was a more open source while the newsletters were targeted towards active members in the Market. There was something interesting to read in everything I found. There was a lot of fascinating facts and random information. Everything I read reflects the Market today. The same guidelines and rules are still enforced 40 years later.

Cover of Strisinger's book

Cover of Streisinger’s book, 1974

The book was written by Lotte Streisinger in 1974. This book was more like an eight page paper. There were 3 main reasons why Streisinger wanted to start the Market. One reason was that there were a large number of craftsmen living in Eugene that wanted to buy and sell crafts and artwork. Another reason was there were a lot of local produce in the Eugene area. She wanted to bring back the old Farmers Market that had died out in the 1950s. The last reason was that she wanted to bring more attention to the downtown area by giving new life and a new atmosphere.

Brief history of the Market

Brief history of the Market

It was interesting to see the rules and regulation of the market in her book. The Market had, and still does pertain, 4 guidelines that must be met. The guidelines of the Market are that the Market must be on public property,  be outdoors, be downtown and aesthetically pleasing- which is still true to this day.

A big thing that stood out to me was the lack of support from surrounding businesses in the downtown area. An interesting piece of documentation from one of the newsletters contained information about how many people shopped downtown because of the Market. A student did a survey based on the number of people in the downtown area. The survey showed that 7- 23% (280 and 952 people) of people surveyed said they came downtown and shopped at local businesses because of the Saturday Market. Essentially, the Market was bringing people downtown and actually helping local businesses.

A student survey

A student survey

The newsletters contained information about their financial budget, where and when board meetings were going to be held, future decisions about the Market and elections about who would be on the board. In all of the newsletters, there were balance sheets which showed there current expenses and income for that particular month.

Financial statements of the Market

Financial statements of the Market

Also in the newsletters, there were potential candidate running for the board of the Market. There would be a list of candidate and the people they were replacing. Board meetings would happen at various places throughout Eugene. Places like Harris Hall and even Lotte Streisinger’s house, which a map to her home was printed, were places the board would meet and discuss future opportunities for the Market.

A map to Stisingers home for a board meeting

A map to Streisinger’s home for a board meeting

Theses meeting were, and still are, open to the public. Pamphlets were given out to  anyone interested in  the Market and who wanted to keep in touch. Much like the newsletters, the pamphlets talked about new things going on at the Market. But most of what was written about in the pamphlets were just incidences of what happened the Saturday before. I thought it was really interesting to see the timeline of the Saturday Market and be able to see how things started and how they were resolved.  In the earlier newsletters, there were proposals and ideas that had not been concluded. These proposals had not been voted on or hadn’t been official yet. Weeks or even months later, I could read the results of those proposals that had happened earlier and see how it affected the Market then and also now. An example of this was weather or not to have an over -all-fee increase, to help support the Market, or have everyone pay based on the percentage of sales for that week.  The decision was to have everyone pay according to the percentage of sales for that week.

One of my favorite things about doing historical research is finding out about politics and seeing the political timeline unfold. During my research, I found a letter written by Lotte Streisinger to the Register- Guard dating back to September 22, 1972. During November of 1972, there was the election- national and local. The race for County Commissioner made Streisinger concerned about the future of the Saturday Market. Only one of the current three county commissioners were in support of the Market. In the 1972 election, one of the commissioners, who was not in support of the Market, was stepping down. Streisinger saw an opportunity to show her support for the Independent candidate, who was in favor of the Market, and she felt that he “had a first hand understanding of current problems and a philosophy which puts human values above property values.” Here is the blurb about her letter to the Register Guard featured in the Eugene Saturday Market bi- monthly newsletter:

1972 election "Letters to the Editor"

1972 election “Letters to the Editor” featured in the Eugene Saturday Market Newsletter Nov. 1972

I spent some time the the Knight Library’s Microfilm collection as well. I wanted to find the actual newspaper with this documentation. Here is the newspaper clipping from September 22, 1972 featuring Lotte Streisinger and her letter to the editor:

Register Guard, Eugene Or. Sept 22/1972

Register Guard, Eugene Or. Sept 22/1972

Eugene Or. Sept 22, 1972

Eugene Or. Sept 22, 1972

One thing that the Eugene Saturday Market thrives on is the Farmer’s Market. When the Eugene Saturday Market first started in 1970, Lotte Streisinger saw a significant connection with the community and food products- specifically produce. In Europe and South America, produce  and food products are a large part of their community. A new niche of customers could come to the market for produce instead of crafts. If more people bought from the Farmers Market, less produce would be bought from out of state, like California. During this time there was not a licence needed to sell produce. This made it easier for farmers, and anyone-literally- for that matter, to sell produce, berries and flowers to the community. Here is an article written by Streisinger in the Eugene Saturday Market’s newsletter:

Farmer's Market produce article Eugene Saturday Market Newsletter 1972 (page 2)

Farmer’s Market produce article Eugene Saturday Market Newsletter 1972 (page 2)

Farmers Market Produce article-Eugene Saturday Market Newsletter 1972 pg.1

Farmers Market Produce article-Eugene Saturday Market Newsletter 1972 pg.1

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