Backlist to the Future: Dreams of the West

With the release date of Ooligan’s upcoming book, tentatively titled Mastersounds, quickly approaching, we prepare to once again look at how our cultural history has shaped this place we call home. Mastersounds will show the rich history of jazz throughout the Pacific Northwest with a specific focus on Seattle and Portland. This new text, written by local jazz legend Lynn Darroch, will be rich with textual and visual pieces of the Pacific Northwest’s musical past. While Mastersounds is still many months away from hitting a bookstore near you, to get a glimpse of what the final text may look like, you need look no further than Ooligan’s 2007 title, Dreams of the West: A History of the Chinese in Oregon 1850-1950.

Like Mastersounds, Dreams of the West is a visual exploration of how the Oregon that we know today came to be. Accompanied by a plethora of informative text in both English and Chinese characters, this book shows us an Oregon that grew out of the blood, sweat, and tears of the Chinese immigrants whose fingerprints can still be seen throughout the architecture, cuisine, and art of the Pacific Northwest. Despite weathering terrible conditions and prevalent (often state-sanctioned) discrimination and harassment upon their arrival to America, the hardy and determined Chinese population that arrived in Oregon during the 19th and early 20th centuries steadily carved out a place for themselves, proving to be arguably the most significant foreign culture to impact what our state would eventually become. With the help and cooperation of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and The Oregon Historical Society, Ooligan was able to produce a title that gives an identity to the often nameless and faceless immigrants who helped to build a community of people that, regardless of race or origin, can simply identify as Oregonians.

Down to the book size and the heavy focus on historical images to accompany the text, Dreams of the West will serve as a sort of bellwether to the design and direction that Mastersounds will adopt. Even more than the physical features of the upcoming Mastersounds, Dreams of the West is the precursor to one of the most important messages that we here at Ooligan aim to deliver: through our unique past and identity, we are like no other place in the world. Whether it be jazz, Chinese immigrants, or anything else that makes the Pacific Northwest what it is today, Ooligan Press will strive to give appreciation to the things that make us who we are.

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