Due to a planned power outage on Friday, 1/14, between 8am-1pm PST, some services may be impacted.
Title: Interview with Jesse Epstein - #1
Original format: VHS
Item Id.: spl_ds_jepstein_01_01
Description: This is part 1 of 1 of an interview with Jesse Epstein. This interview was conducted by Donald Schmechel on January 22, 1988 at Epstein’s Seattle home.
Jesse Epstein (1910-1989) was a lawyer and the first director of the Seattle Housing Authority. Epstein was born in Russia and his family moved to Great Falls, Montana in 1913. Epstein attended the University of Washington where he graduated with a degree in political science in 1932 and a law degree in 1935. He became the director of the Seattle Housing Authority in 1939 and held that role throughout World War II until 1945. During his tenure as director he supervised the development of Yesler Terrace which was the first housing project in Seattle. Yesler Terrace also notable for the fact that it was not segregated according to race (in contrast to many other housing options in the country). In 1945 Epstein became the Regional Director for the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and became the West Coast Director the following year. In 1948 he left his position at FHA and refocused on his legal career. Epstein was heavily involved in multiple community organizations including Neighborhood House, the Mountaineers and the Washington Wilderness Association.
During the interview Epstein talks about his life and career which included schooling at the University of Washington, being a teacher and a lawyer. Much of the discussion focuses on his service with the Seattle Housing Authority and as Regional Director of the FHA.
This interview is part of the Donald Schmechel Oral History Collection. Don Schmechel, who was a member of the Seattle Public Library Foundation board, began this project with Seattle Public Library in 1984, with the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) brought on board as a partner in early 1985. Schmechel himself worked to raise the funding for the project, and volunteered his time to manage the project, and to conduct interviews along with a crew of volunteers. Originally titled the Videotaping Historic Figures (VHF) Program, the project interviewed 91 people, with a portion of the interviews entering the collections of the Seattle Public Library and a portion of them going to MOHAI.The interviews conducted with these Seattle civic, business and cultural leaders in 1985 are valuable first-hand accounts that provide insight into developments taking place in the mid-twentieth century.
Digitization of this videotape material has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.