Yakima Valley Museum

William O. DouglasWilliam O. Douglas
October 16, 1998, would have been the 100th birthday of former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.  For 16 years prior to 1998, the museum has been pleased to display a re-creation of Douglas' Washington, D.C. office; the contents of which were given to the museum following Douglas' death in 1980.  But the office alone does little to explore the Yakima roots of this highly controversial, but exceedingly influential, justice.  Furthermore, the museum owns numerous Douglas items and photographs that had not been exhibited previously.  Accordingly, the museum opened an entirely new exhibition on William O. Douglas, on his 100th birthday in October 1998.  Made possible with the generous assistance of the Yakima County Bar Association, the Yakima Lions Club, the Seafirst Bank Foundation, and several anonymous donors, the new exhibition was relocated within the museum, continues to feature the office, and was expanded to include material about his early life in Yakima, his controversial Supreme Court career, his writings, and his continuing legacy in environmental and civil rights law.

Douglas ExhibitIn preparation for the new exhibition, Central Washington University graduate student and East Valley school teacher Michael Duerre undertook new research in the Museum's Sundquist Research Library's William O. Douglas collection.  Duerre examined existing Douglas biographies and recommended ways in which the new exhibition could accurately interpret the lifelong relationship between Yakima and Douglas.  It is hoped that the new exhibition fairly depicts his lasting influence and the reasons he remains controversial to the present day.

Look up William O. Douglas on the Yakima Memory website.

The Life of William O. Douglas

1898 William Orville Douglas is born to the Reverend William and Julia Douglas in Maine, Minnesota, on October 16.
1901 Three year old "Orville" is stricken with polio. Family moves to Estrella, California.
Family moves to Cleveland, Washington.
Reverend Douglas dies. Family moves to Yakima.
Graduates from Yakima High School as class valedictorian and is awarded a partial scholarship from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
Graduates Phi Beta Kappa from Whitman. Begins teaching English and Latin at Yakima High School.
Enters Columbia Law School in New York City.
Marries Mildred Riddle, a co-worker at Yakima High School.
Graduates second in his class from Columbia. Begins professional career at Wall Street law firm of Cravath, deGersdorff, Swaine, and Wood. Teaches at Columbia on the side.
Briefly returns to Yakima to practice law.
Returns to New York to begin teaching full-time at Columbia Law School.
Accepts a teaching position at Yale University.
Accepts a position with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Appointed commissioner of the SEC.
Appointed chairman of the SEC, replacing Joseph Kennedy.
Exhibit 21939
Appointed to United States Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fill the position vacated by Justice Louis D. Brandeis.
Considered by F.D.R. as vice-presidential nominee.
Julia Douglas, his mother, dies.
Again considered for vice-presidential nomination by F.D.R.
Declines invitation of President Harry S. Truman to run for vice-president.
Horseback-riding accident results in twenty three broken ribs and nearly ends Douglas' life.
Considered for Democratic presidential nomination but refuses to run.
Divorces Mildred.
Marries Mercedes Hester Davidson.
Organizes 189-mile hike along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath to protest a proposed highway along the route; the hike is successful and highway plans are abandoned.
Organizes hike along a secluded and pristine section of beach in Olympic National Park to protest a proposed roadway into the area; the hike is successful and plans are abandoned. Arthur Douglas, his brother, dies.
Divorces Mercedes. Marries Joan Martin.
Divorces Joan. Marries Cathleen Heffernan.
An attempt to impeach Justice William O. Douglas is organized by Representative Gerald Ford.
Suffers a stroke on December 31.
Retires from the Supreme Court on November 12, after more than thirty-six years of service.
Dies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on January 19.


SocialLinkedIn Pinterest Flickr Google+
You Tube Facebook Twitter