Scope and Contents
The Helen Frye papers consist of research material, correspondence and paperwork from the time she served as an Oregon Circuit Court judge (1971-1980) and United States District Court for the District of Oregon (1980-2011) judge.
The collection is divided into series as follows:
Series I contains correspondence and paperwork for Helen Frye's judgeship as Oregon's Circuit Court judge (1971-1980). Paperwork includes appeals from various cases Frye presided over along with material related to Frye's campaign for Circuit Court judge. Correspondence and appeal materials are arranged by year.
Series II contains correspondence and paperwork from Frye's term as Oregon's District Court Judge (1980-2011). Paperwork includes opinions, appellate decisions and jury instructions for cases Frye presided over. This includes major cases involving PGE, the city of Rajneesh and the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, along with many others. Jury instructions, appellate decisions and correspondence are ordered by year.
Series III contains research and speech material Frye collected for various topics. Major topics include rape, sex discrimination and women's rights.
Series IV consists of subject files regarding Frye throughout her terms as Circuit Court and District Court judges, as well as an oral history of her life.
- Creation: 1971-2011
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.
Conditions Governing Use
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
Helen Frye was born in Klamath Falls in 1930, where she was raised on the family farm. Her father died when she was three and she was raised by her maternal grandmother while her mother and brother were infected with tuberculosis.
She married William Frye in 1952, her junior year at the University of Oregon, and graduated with an undergraduate degree in English the following year. In 1961 Frye earned her master's degree in education at UO and then became a high school English teacher. According to her son E. Max Frye, she was forced to resign from her job teaching high-school English in Eugene because she was pregnant.
Her husband William Frye became Lane County District Attorney at age 29 and was, according to her son, a major influence in Frye's decision to attend the University of Oregon's School of Law. She earned her juris doctorate in 1966 and began working for her husband in private legal practice shortly after she passed the bar. After five years in private practice, Frye became a judge for Oregon Circuit Court's second district which covered Lane county. In 1973, she oversaw the case of 19-year-old Dayton Leroy Rogers who had assaulted two young girls. Frye found Rogers not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and sent him to the Oregon State Hospital for treatment. Rogers later went on to become Oregon's most notorious serial killer.
In 1980, Frye was appointed by President Carter as the first female judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon. During her time as District Court judge, she presided over many important cases including a $175-million dispute over the dumping of sewage into the Tualatin River; a fight between the spotted owl protectionists and logging interests; and several cases against the Rajneesh. In 1985, Frye ruled the 3-year-old city of Rajneeshpuram invalid because of its unconstitutional church-state link.
After 15 years as U.S. District Court judge, Frye began working part-time as a senior judge in 1995. She retired years later. Frye died on April 21, 2011 and is survived by her four children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
16 linear feet (12 containers)
Language of Materials
Helen Frye was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1930. She earned her B.A. in English in 1953, her M.A. in Education in 1961, and her J.D. in 1966, all from the University of Oregon. After earning her M.A. she taught high school English; after earning her law degree she joined her husband, William Frye, in private legal practice. After five years in private practice, Frye became a judge for Oregon Circuit Court's second district (Lane County). In 1980, Frye was appointed by President Carter as the first female judge for the U.S. District Court of Oregon. After 15 years as U.S. District Court judge, Frye began working part-time as a senior judge in 1995. She retired years later. Frye died on April 21, 2011 and is survived by her four children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Collection is organized into the following series:
Series I: Circuit Court (1971-1980) Series II:District Court (1980-2011) Series III: Speech/Research Material Series IV: Subject Files Series V: Audio/Video
10 record storage boxes, 1 small flat box, and 1 oversize folder
Collection processed by Austin Pliska, 2012.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Guide to the Helen Frye Papers
- Complete Description
- Austin Pliska and Kira B. Homo
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English
- Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) administered through the Oregon State Library.