The Binfords and Mort Publishing Company and the Development of Regional Literature in Oregon

Binfords and Mort logo

This is an MA thesis in History by Jeremy Skinner at Portland State University, readable online for free.

OrHi 37618

It’s a neat read overall, for anyone who engages much with printed pioneer-era Northwest sources.

Stephen McCormick signature

Page 17 throws interesting new light on Binfords & Mort’s important place in CJ publishing history:

After establishing a readership and means of distribution, [in the early 1850s Stephen J.] McCormick began work
on his first book publication. His first step was the solicitation of A Comprehensive,
Explanatory, Correct Pronouncing Dictionary, and Jargon Vocabulary by the Pacific
Northwest Catholic priest, Francis Norbert Blanchet. McCormick was a practicing
Catholic and close friend of Blanchet’s, which made acquisition of the manuscript easy.32
This Chinook dictionary proved to be an astute choice for McCormick. During his
twenty-seven years in Portland, McCormick published at least eleven editions of the
work before selling the copyright to J. K. Gill, who published ten more editions between

[page 18] 1881 and 1933. Surviving copies show that McCormick was thrifty in his decision to
issue the work in wraps, saving the cost of hard binding and making the work more
affordable in the modest and unproven Portland marketplace.
Over the next ten years, McCormick acted as the primary publisher and
bookseller in the Oregon Territory.

OrHi 7668029 Ibid., 715.
30 There appear to be no surviving copies of Oregon [Monthly] Magazine. In History of Oregon Literature,
714, Powers states that the magazine was first issued in January of 1852, but he gives no information about
the magazine’s longevity.
31 Ibid.
32 Gleanings of Fifty Years: The Sisters of the Holy Names in the Northwest, 1859-1909 (Portland, OR:
Glass & Prudhomme, 1909), 72.