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About Kay Reid:

Kay has devoted much of her adult life to seeking out and recording the unknown stories of people and organizations—what they have given this world, what they’ve fought for in bad times and good. She has recorded the stories of individuals and families, of oyster growers, legislators and new immigrants; of families who live on the town’s periphery and those in its centers of power. Her mentors in oral history were Dr. Charlies Morrissey and Dr. James Strassmaier.

Kay herself has often worked in what Jane Addams called “the social claim” to achieve justice, fairness, and peace. She has managed several organizations and directed major oral history programs in the Pacific Northwest, including Great Tribal Leaders of Modern Times through the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, and Ecotrust’s oral history series on the Long Beach Peninsula, Washington. Kay has great admiration for individuals and families who have built their neighborhoods, business organizations and dreams against unlikely odds. She is as attentive to the story of how the small farmer became the state representative as she is to how the laundry operator started a local museum. She excels at drawing out the truth, and creating edited, flowing narratives.

Kay graduated from Lewis and Clark College in English Literature and did graduate work at the Universities of Oregon and Washington. She studied at the Goethe Institute in Germany and traveled to Argentina to interview Mothers of the Disappeared. A great curiosity about how people live and what they believe has also sent her to Egypt, Syria, France, England, Italy, Spain and Mexico.

She is a member of the Northwest Oral History Association and national Oral History Association



Record the histories and stories of individuals and families. more

Record the histories and stories of small businesses and community organizations. more

Help individuals write ethical wills—a statement about what we have valued and cherished, worked for and loved. more

Capture these stories, histories and wills in writing and edit them so that they can be preserved as documents or bound and published.

Record individuals’ recollections of their beloved animal companions, past or present. (I team up with a great artist—she works from photos of the pets.) more

Help people write letters and personal documents that may be difficult for them to do on their own.

Coach people on an individual basis on how to do oral histories of their relatives and friends.

Direct and manage oral history projects for organizations and educational institutions—I’ve done such projects for both PSU and Marylhurst, and for organizations like Ecotrust. more

Transcribe audio-taped material generated by my own and other peoples’ projects.

Provide insights and guidance to people who are doing their own research projects.

Coach non-native speakers with their writing, and native speakers too.


Classes & Workshops :

I offer a series of workshops for people who want to learn more about oral history and recording their own stories. See my BLOG for schedule



"My sister and I were very fortunate to find in Kay a friendly, caring person who understood and appreciated our family memories of four generations."
—Delight Leonard

"Kay Reid was a wonder to work with preparing an edited family history that I am proud to place in the big box of mementos, treasures and other writings to be passed down to future generations."
— Janet Knori

"Skillful, measured, committed, Kay Reid can help you turn your once upon-a-time story into a family treasure to cherish."
—Dorothy Stafford

“In the noble tradition of Dorothy Day, Kay Reid offers a gallery of heroes who have devoted themselves to making this a world in which it would be easier for people to behave decently. This is must reading, especially for the young people who dream of and work toward that better world.”
— Studs Terkel

“What a marvelous and astute idea—to have the young gather and present the tales of the elders to whom they owe the character of their home place. Both the stories in Memories of our Past and its painstaking and faithful assembly by Kay speak to enormous labor in service of community.”
—Robert Michael Pyle, author

“As oral historian for our series on tribal leaders across the nation, Kay was thorough in her research and kind in her approach to the material and the people.”
—Kathryn Harrison/Molalla

"In 2001 the Board of the Institute for Tribal Government, Portland State University, gave itself a new task: to collect the oral histories of Native American contemporary leaders. I had known Kay Reid and admired her work for some years. I decided to hire her for this project, although I was concerned that she had no previous experience with Native people. Kay proved that she was very capable of the massive task ahead. Interviewees I checked with let me know they had been very comfortable with her style and her sensitivity. Given the history of exploitation of Native experts by some research groups, this is indeed a fine compliment for Kay. Over 40 interviews have been videoed and the college-level curriculum has been designed and taught at multiple colleges. Kay has been vital in the curriculum development and teaching of the college course. In addition, she has organized a teacher advisory group of Natives and non-Natives, and has almost completed a high school curriculum. With a very small budget Kay Reid has worked miracles and made possible the documentation of historic Native experience."
— Elizabeth Furse, Founder of the Institute for Tribal Government and former Congresswoman,
(Oregon, Third District)