‘The Red Shield in the Rose City’

Oregon Historical Society salutes The Salvation Army’s 125 years in Portland.

Salvation Amry musicians perform on the street in Portland in the 1960s.

In 1886, Captain Mary Stillwell of The Salvation Army brought “soup, soap and salvation” to Portland, Ore., a frontier city filled with vice. The outpost was the Army’s first in the Pacific Northwest.

The Salvation Army is celebrating 125 years of service to the people of Portland with a special exhibit at the Oregon History Museum at the Oregon Historical Society. “The Red Shield in the Rose City: 125 Years of The Salvation Army in Portland” explores the beginnings of The Salvation Army in England, how The Salvation Army came to Portland and how it entwined itself into the fabric of Portland’s history. It features original uniforms, instruments and images of The Salvation Army’s rich history in Oregon from 1886 through the present day.

“We have just heard from the museum that this is one of the most well put together, detailed and attractive exhibits of its kind,” said Major Ronda Gilger, Cascade divisional women’s secretary. “Special thanks to all whose hands made this a reality. You have told The Salvation Army’s story well!”

One part of the exhibit focuses on The Salvation Army’s doughnut girls, who assisted soldiers in World War I. Rations in the field were limited, so ensigns Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance suggested making doughnuts for the soldiers, and they became an instant hit.

In Portland, The Salvation Army has grown from a handful of hopeful Salvationists to 10 corps and programs across the Portland Metro area serving more than a quarter of Portland’s population.

The museum exhibit opened Sept. 15 and runs through Dec. 31. For more information, visit ohs.org.

 

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