A total of 48 foreign-born Malheur County residents signed up for new citizenship classes being offered through the school district, the Argus-Observer reported on Jan. 15, 1953.
Arthur Kiesz, the Ontario school district superintendent, said the response to the class was one of the most thrilling experiences of his career. He predicted that 68 students would be signed up when classes began a week later.
(Over the next eight weeks a total of 170 would join the classes.)
A total of 13 countries were represented in the first sign-ups.
Most of the students were from Japan after the McCarran Act became law the previous Dec. 24, for the first time permitting former residents of that country to become U.S. citizens.
The other 12 nations represented were Australia, England, Holland, Hungry, Germany, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, Korea, Denmark, Greece and Bulgaria.
Kiesz credited three members of the Malheur County teachers association’s Americanization committee with the effort needed to get the class under way. Those three were: Sylvia Osborne of Ontario, chair of the committee, and members Viola Fothergill of Nyssa and Idlena Winfrey of Vale.