Author Archives: dvoraka

Rare Books Shift

This post is contributed by Student Archivist Connor Lambert, a senior studying history and education. 


Connor and the “delightfully teal cart”

As a senior with two majors, one in education and one in history, I have managed to keep myself busy these last four years. My dream is to become a secondary school educator. This aspiration began with my mother, who teaches first grade. I always felt proud to tell others that my mom was a teacher, but I wanted to be a biologist. When I was a junior in high school, my thoughts officially turned to teaching because of my outstanding history teacher. His class felt like I was sitting though a movie because the stories that he was telling were so exciting. I had never been so interested in a class. He is the main reason that I want to be a teacher. Once I begin to teach, my goal is to teach history in a way that brings entertainment to students. I want to be able to create an engaging class that can ignite a love for the stories that created the world we live in. This upcoming September I will have the chance to put my plans into action when my student teaching year begins. In order to help fund my student teaching experience, I needed a job. I was lucky to finally find a position that allowed me to experience history firsthand.

Over the last few weeks I have been tasked with shifting all the collections over a few spaces in order to create more room for future expansion. My task involved a lot of loading books onto a delightfully teal cart, moving them a few aisles over, and putting them back onto a shelf. As tedious as this may sound, it was in reality one of the most interesting tasks that I have ever had. As someone who is interested in history and books, I find the sheer number of items within the archive amazing. More amazing than that is the age of many of them. I was moving and touching books that were published before the Civil War, and even many from before the Revolutionary War. The amount of history there is magical. Some items there make me question why things are ever even published. For example, books that are three feet tall and weigh fifty pounds. I cannot see any reasonable person deciding to go to the bookstore and picking themselves up a copy. On the other side of those odd few books, there was a plethora of old scientific journals that were full of hand drawn plants and animals.  Looking through these was by far my favorite part of the shift. It is one thing looking at these images on a computer screen, it is completely different to be feeling the age of the books in your hands while seeing what lays within.

The biggest takeaway from this project is that there is so much more within these archives than I ever thought. It feels as if the archive contains something that relates to any topic you can imagine.

Looking toward the future, I hope to be able to use the sources in SCARC, or any other archive to bring excitement into a classroom.  Much like with the old science journals, holding the item in your hands is a much more interesting experience than just talking about them and looking at pictures. If I am ever able to teach a class that has the opportunity to explore the many items within an archive I will undoubtedly take them there. I feel that it is a way to get interested in history. It allows for you to physically hold history, and that is why, although I was just moving books, it has been one of the coolest experiences I have had.

“Mountain Rescue” Video Now Available

This post is contributed by Student Archivist Genevieve Connolly, an undergraduate Physics major with a particular interest in particle physics and astrophysics. She loves studying languages on the side, and hopes that her future career takes her all over the world. 


The natural beauty of Oregon in the 1920s is a unique sight. Portland-born photographer Ralph I. Gifford (1894-1947) made it his mission to capture Oregon’s trademark scenery. As a photographer for the Travel and Information Department in the Oregon State Highway Commission, his photographs were used to promote tourism. However in addition to his contributions to Oregon’s tourist business, he also took motion pictures. This “Mountain Rescue” video is one such example. Shot on Mount Hood, the production was probably intended to be a search and rescue training video. It portrays a staged rescue during which a man hiking on the mountain falls, injuring his leg. He is then found by a group of rescuers who use a portable radio to call for assistance and then carry the injured man down the mountain and evacuate him. At 3:40, a Crag Rats Hood River patch can be seen on the left shoulder of one of the rescuers. Founded in 1926, the Crag Rats is the oldest mountain search and rescue organization in the United States.

SCARC obtained this footage from a donor in 2009. It came to SCARC out of order and interspersed with other miscellaneous footage of Oregon. In total, the collection consisted of 7 reels of 35mm nitrate film negatives (about 3200 feet). After being digitized it was arranged into the order displayed in the final video by two SCARC student employees: myself and my sister. My sister, Maddie, first watched the entire video containing the mountain rescue footage (about 35 minutes) from start to finish to sort out the timestamps of the mountain rescue. Then she discerned the story line of the rescue and listed the timestamps in the correct order. Using this list, I put together the final video in Adobe Premiere by cutting the footage at the timestamps indicated by my sister and rearranging them into the order she determined. I am happy to have been able to contribute to giving the public a glimpse into this aspect of Oregon’s history.

April 2019 Guide Additions to SCARC Collections

SCARC completed 11 new or updated finding aids in April 2019.  Following is a list and a little information about what we accomplished.

These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”).

  • Three of the guides are for collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described.
  • Four  of the guides are for new collection received in 2014-2018 that were previously unavailable to researchers.
  • Four of the guides are updates to incorporate additions.

All of these materials are now available to researchers.


Collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

College of Business Videotapes, 1983-2005 (FV 194)

The College of Business Videotapes principally document the activities of, and coursework related to, the Austin Family Business Program, which was founded at Oregon State University in 1985. The collection consists of recordings of events and trainings sponsored by the program as well as promotional materials used for program outreach and third party productions relevant to the subject of family businesses. The collection likewise includes recordings of Family Business Management course lectures offered to distance students by OSU Business professor Pat Frishkoff from 1997-2000.

Alexander K. Chapman Photograph Collection, 1908-1910 (P 235)

The Alexander K. Chapman Photograph Collection is comprised of photographs assembled by Alexander Kesterson Chapman between 1905 and 1909, when he was a student at Oregon Agricultural College. The collection includes photographs of student groups on campus, but is primarily comprised of individual portraits, both identified and not identified. Chapman graduated in 1909 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. Select images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection, circa 1860-1949 (P 156)

The Ralph VanCleave Photographic Collection contains images of the Horning Carding Mill and F.A. Horning residence, and includes written histories of both subjects. Also held within the collection are images, taken in the 1940s, of public schools from all around the Willamette Valley.

Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

New Collections:

Educational Activities Committee Records, 1972-2015 (RG 293)

The Educational Activities Committee Records document the process for requests and allocations of student fees at Oregon State University.  In addition to information about the administration of the funding process, the records document the programs and activities of many fee-funded units and organizations such as the Associated Students of OSU, Student Media, Music Department, University Theater, and a multitude of students clubs and organizations.

Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection, 2019 (OH 046)

The Oregon Higher Education Oral Histories Collection contains the interviews of 17 individuals sharing the histories and their experiences of 6 community colleges in Oregon including Blue Mountain Community College, Central Oregon Community College, Chemeketa Community College, Lane Community College, Linn-Benton Community College, and Portland Community College. All of the interviews are available online.

Joanne Tynon Papers, 1999-2016 (MSS Tynon)

The Joanne Tynon Papers document Tynon’s research in the area of outdoor recreation and tourism and her career as a faculty member at Oregon State University.  Tynon joined the faculty of the College of Forestry in 1997 and retired in 2017.

 

 

Wilson Room Prints Collection, 1738-1885 (MSS WilsonRoom)

The Wilson Room Prints Collection consists of nearly 200 prints from the late 18th century and early 19th century that were compiled by Norman and Glenville Starr Wilson and represent various printing processes of this period.

 

Finding aids that have been updated to incorporate additions:

Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection, 1970-2018 (MSS Addy)

The Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection consists of records, promotional materials, and various forms of media related to the Homowo African Arts and Cultures organization, later known as the Obo Addy Legacy Project. Obo Addy’s personal materials include correspondence, promotional materials, and photographs. Obo Addy, a master drummer at the age of six, established the Homowo African Arts and Cultures organization with his wife and manager Susan Addy as a way to celebrate and preserve the traditional music of Ghana and Africa. The organization was established in 1986 and closed in 2018.

Hop Growers of America Records, 1956-2011 (MSS HGA)

The Hop Growers of America Records (HGA) document the functioning of the organization. The HGA was founded in 1956 in Washington State. Its mission is to create a healthier and more efficient United States hops industry for corporations and farmers through education, advocacy, promotion, and support for technical and scientific research.

 

Thomas Kraemer Papers, 1908-2018 (MSS Kraemer)

This update reflects a major addition to this collection that was received in 2018.  Oregon State University alumnus Thomas Kraemer helped to found the Gay Peoples Alliance, the first officially recognized gay student group at OSU, in 1976. The Kraemer Papers reflect Kraemer’s decades-long research on LGBTQ+ issues. The collection includes Kraemer’s blog, blog reference materials, and research files; his collection of comics, magazines, and films; and some biographical materials.

Oregon Hop Growers Association Records, 1895-2004 (MSS OHGA)

The Oregon Hop Growers Association Records document the administration of the OHGA and its various activities, including outreach events and the collection of statistical information about hop production in the United States and abroad.  The general membership meeting minutes have been digitized: Oregon Hop Growers Association Meeting Minutes, 1955-1970Oregon Hop Growers Association Meeting Minutes 1971-1983Oregon Hop Growers Association Meeting Minutes 1984-1993.  All of the photographs and slides have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

The videos have been digitized and are available online: Oregon Hop Commission Historical FootageJohn O’ Connell, Hop Growers of America conference presentationHops farming operations.

New! KBVR Video Now Available Online

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) obtained a large collection of audio-visual materials from KBVR-TV in 2015, when OSU’s student television studios moved into the new Student Experience Center. This collection, which was fully processed in 2017, consists of a number of video cassette tapes and DVDs from the KBVR television studio. Included along with the video files are a handful of audio files as well; primarily KBVR-FM radio bumpers and audio CDs. But most prominent are the KBVR-TV shows, all created by Oregon State University students through the years. Comedy shows, newscasts, talk shows, short films, game shows…just about anything the creative Beaver could fathom, KBVR aired.

SCARC is pleased to announce today that 241 items, mostly videos, are now freely available online. While this is only a fraction of the whole collection received from KBVR, it does represent a significant release of content that had previously been available by request only. Here now is your guide to this new cache of fascinating and fun video!

SCARC has released forty-one episodes of The Beaver Sports Show, a half-hour long program that featured student hosts across campus reporting on the latest sports news and interviewing notable Beaver athletes, while providing their take on Oregon State’s sports teams. The Beaver Sports Show episodes obtained by SCARC range from the years 2008-2011.  One episode of interest, from 2009, highlights a “day-in-the-life” of two Oregon State football wide receivers, Taylor Kavanaugh and James Rodgers, who went on to play for the Atlanta Falcons. The show was anchored by several students, including John Hendricks, Kalena Bell, Rick Stella, and Boon Kruger.

Similar to The Beaver Sports Show, KBVR-TV produced KBVR News. This was a thirty-minute nightly news program that detailed happenings around campus including student events, Corvallis and world news, and sports highlights. All of the segments were anchored and produced by students, notably Spencer Smallwood, Kelsey Gill, Mike Card and Marcus Collins. The clips date from 2004 through fall 2011.

Continuing the theme of news programs, Blonde Bombshells on the Hour is also presented in SCARC’s KBVR release. Blonde Bombshells on the Hour was a KBVR TV show that announced the latest music news from hosts, Camille Field and Elle McCracken, as well as Maya Holmes and Brittany Wooten. All of the anchors in this 2011 show shared the same hair color: blonde! Back to the Theatre was a 2010 show preceding Blonde Bombshells, with a somewhat similar theme: movies. Movie news and movie reviews were discussed on this talk show, six episodes of which are available online. The show was hosted by students Mike Card, Kelsey Gill, and Jay Lee, and in one episode of prominence, hosted special guest, OSU Distinguished Professor of Film Studies Jon Lewis.

Letting your voice be heard was a popular trend among students creating programming for KBVR-TV, and a few shows highlight this: Campus View (2008), No Big Whoop (2004-2008), and Questions on the Quad (2011.) These shows, usually airing in the late night, all hosted by two or more students who share their opinions on campus issues and encourage viewers to call in and either ask their own questions or share their own views. They typically focus on a guest who can speak to a topic the hosts are discussing in the episode. Questions on the Quad focused on student hosts roaming around the Memorial Union Quad, interviewing students on various topics. The show Open World (2008) shined a spotlight on international students discussing different aspects of their culture: geography, family dynamics, and the differences they’ve experienced since becoming an international student. SCARC has released three episodes of this show, hosting students from Africa, Japan, and Vietnam. Similar in style to Open World is Dr. Haydrogen German Vids (2013) which presents fascinating interviews with German instructors on their backgrounds in the German culture and language.

Another popular trend among students was producing their own sitcom, reality show, or game show. The two sitcoms in the collection, Anchors (2012) and The Jota Show (ca. 2000s) stars a large cast of students portraying characters in silly scenarios. Anchors is about a group of college-aged news anchors who constantly find themselves in trouble. The Jota Show is about a group of friends navigating young adult life. The reality shows presented in the collection are Greek Pads (2009), Limited Reality (1999), and Trading Rooms (2007-2008.)  Greek Pads is an MTV-style show where the viewer gets a personal tour of just about any Oregon State sorority or fraternity they want to see. Trading Rooms is based off of popular TLC show Trading Spaces, using a similar synopsis with a university influence: two sets of roommates, two designers, twelve hours, and a 250-dollar budget to revamp each other’s dorm rooms. Limited Reality has a similar plot to The Jota Show, but is a reality show about how average people act when they know they are being filmed. SCARC also has several game shows produced for KBVR, all inspired by popular television game shows and starring student contestants: Who Wants to be a Beaver? (2001), Blind Date Oregon State (2002), and the OSU Dating Game (2008-2009). Also in the online collection is one episode of a popular KBVR aerobics show Bodywise (1994) and a Japanese cooking show called Naomi’s Itadakimasu (ca. 1998). Itadakimasu is Japanese for “let’s eat!”

Another common theme KBVR-TV programming through the years has been music-centric shows–if Blonde Bombshells on the Hour and their Music Fusion Fridays weren’t telling enough, Beavers love music. The music-specific collection of videos in the online release are mostly concert footage: “The Meow Meow Show,” Oregon State’s Battle of the Bands, and the Flat Tail Music Festival. “The Meow Meow Show” was a 2004 concert headlined by five punk-rock bands. The University’s Battle of the Bands and Flat Tail Music Festival are annual events where student bands are encouraged to perform. Locals Live is a show that began in 2006, and focuses on local artists performing in front of a small audience. The show still runs on KBVR today.  The online release also includes a collection of videos from past events, including “Snow on the Quad,” a winter sports event that took place in the Memorial Union Quad in the middle of May, 2006. The event received news coverage by KGW Channel 8 News, was so popular that it continued into the subsequent years, before becoming the “Campus Rail Jam Tour” and concluding in 2011.

Also included is a large collection of short films produced by New Media Communications students from the 2000s to 2010s, including several produced by student Kevin England. Among these are several short films produced specifically by New Media Communications 383 students, as well as a full-length student film, Spade on the River, which is about a young, by-the-book man becoming roommates with the kind of guy he’d been warned about. The short films collection displays the work of talented young students who shared a love for storytelling through this new medium.

This collection of items from the KBVR television and radio stations display the kind of passion that is prominent among Beavers. Whether it’s a passion for music, sharing their views, making their audience laugh, or even taking their own spin on a popular TV show, Beavers are creative, and they know how to show it. The 241 video and audio clips presented in this collection will be an excellent source of inspiration for future Beavers in this regard. Not only that, but the clips are a source for historical inquiry, including news stories documenting past events and campus happenings, and sports coverage of past match-ups. This collection will also provide a nostalgic way to look back on projects produced by previous Beavers–whether they produced, anchored, starred in, or filmed a KBVR production, their memories are now available. It is no doubt that these videos will continue to be a source of past university events, humor, and inspiration for years to come.


This post was contributed by Student Archivist Katy Roach, a history major with the goal pursue a career in the archives.

March 2019 Guide Additions to SCARC Collections

SCARC completed 7 new or updated finding aids in March 2019.  Following is a list and a little information about what we accomplished.  These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”). 

All of these materials are now available to researchers.

Collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:
Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides Collection, 1936-1998 (P 098 – SG 1)
The Robert W. Henderson Photographic Slides provide visual documentation of Oregon State University and the state of Oregon from, in bulk, the mid-1950s to the late 1990s. Consisting of nearly 16,000 unique 35-mm color slides, all of which are described individually, the collection depicts a wide range of university activities, particularly as concerns agricultural research and the development of agricultural practices at OSU’s county Extension offices and regional Experiment Stations. Other strengths of the collection include faculty, staff and student life at OSU; Oregon’s rural communities as viewed from the ground and the air; and imagery from Henderson’s travels around the world. Photos of coins, insects, flowers, produce and numerous other subjects round out the collection. Robert Henderson (1914-2006) was an OSU alum and photography enthusiast who worked as a faculty member in Farm Crops and the Agricultural Experiment Station for thirty years.

Larry Kirkland Photograph Collection, 1951-1969 (P 125)
The Larry Kirkland Photograph Collection documents activities related to school spirit, athletics, and student social life at Oregon State University (OSU). Kirkland began his undergraduate work at OSU in 1968, studying art and working in the Instructional Materials and Research Center. Kirkland completed an Honors Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design in 1972.  Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

C. William Nelson Papers, 1958-1990 (MSS NelsonCW)
The C. William Nelson Papers document Nelson’s field collecting and research study of insects, especially moths and butterflies, in Oregon and Washington.  C. William Nelson was an avocational entomologist and insect collector who lived in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area.

 

New Collections:
Gail Achterman Papers, 1975-2012 (MSS Achterman)
The Gail Achterman Papers consist of materials created by Oregon State University Institute of Natural Resources’ creator and director Gail Achterman. Achterman led the institute from 2003 to 2011 and was renowned in the areas of natural resources and environmental law and policy. The collection chiefly consists of journals related to the Institute of Natural Resources and educational materials she shared during her time as director, as well as items pertaining to the Gail Achterman Willamette Legacy.

Fred Bowman Papers, 1983-2010 (MSS Bowman)
Fred Bowman co-founded Portland Brewing Company in 1986. The Fred Bowman Papers include digitized versions of photographs showing the renovation of the original Portland Brewing location and early events at the brewery. The digitized documents include news articles, business documents, and a personal pocketbook with handwritten notes.The digitized photographs in this collection are available in Oregon Digital. These materials were provided to the Special Collections & Archives Research Center in 2015 for digitization. The original items have been retained by Bowman.

Fashion Organization Records, 1978-2012 (MSS FashionOrg)
The Fashion Organization Records consist of materials reflecting the activities and administration of the Oregon State University Fashion Organization (OSUFO) and are comprised of financial records, organizational records, correspondence, ephemera, newspaper clippings, audio-visual material, and photographs and slides. Previously known as the Fashion Group International-Student Chapter, OSUFO was a fee-funded student organization that organized fashion-related events on campus, including the annual Recycled Fashion Show. The group was established as the Fashion and Design Students club (FADS) in 1983, and disbanded sometime between 2012 and 2015.

Valley Library Art Collection, 1948-2018  (RG 297)
The Valley Library Art Collection Records document the artists and art represented in the Northwest Art Collection as well as the work of Betty LaDuke.  The Northwest Art Collection consists of more than 140 pieces of artwork that were installed in the Valley Library as part of the Oregon Percent for Art program at the time of major renovations of the Oregon State University Library in the late 1990s.

February 2019 Guide Additions to SCARC Collections

SCARC completed 10 new or updated finding aids in February 2019.  The following is a list and a little information about what we accomplished.  You will see a beer theme for this month!

These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”). These 39 guides represent  ~87 cubic feet of physical materials and 41+ Gbytes of electronic records and include ~2800 photographs.

All of these materials are now available to researchers.


Collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

Herman T. Bohlman Photograph Collection, circa 1890 – 1928 (P 202)

p202-bicyclesb-600wThe Herman T. Bohlman Photograph Collection consists of images taken and assembled by Bohlman documenting bird species and his travels, primarily in the Pacific Northwest.  Bohlman was a lifelong friend and collaborator of renowned ornithologist, naturalist, and conservationist William L. Finley.   Many of the photographs are available online in the Oregon Digital collection Reuniting Finley and Bohlman.

Robert Daly Beer Publication Collection, 1978-2004 (MSS Daly)

daly-600wThe Robert Daly Beer Publication Collection is comprised of publications collected by Robert Daly about beer brewing, as well as guides to different varieties of beer found in the U.S. and worldwide. Included among the publications are several issues of the Oregon Brew Crew newsletter, which Daly edited.

 

Friendship Internationale Scrapbook, 1964-1977 (MSS FriendsInt)

mss-chatterclub-scrapbook-600wThe Friendship Internationale Scrapbook documents the programs and activities offered by this organization for the wives of male international students and staff as well as single international female students and staff at Oregon State University.  The organization was founded in 1964 as the Chatter Club and was active until 1979, when it merged with another organization to form Crossroads International.

Hop Research Council Records, 1943-2009 (MSS HRC)

hrc-600wThe Hop Research Council Records document its support of hops research projects. Much of the collection pertains to the development of new hop varieties and the management of hop diseases such as powdery mildew. The Hop Research Council was formed in 1979 to fund hop research by soliciting and providing funds for scientific investigation and research related to the agricultural production of quality hops in the United States.

Kenneth C. Minnick Papers, 1945-2000 (MSS Minnick)

p46-296-minnick-600wThe Kenneth C. Minnick Papers document Minnick’s career as the Benton County 4-H Extension Agent from 1947 to 1974 and his establishment of the roadside clean-up program in Benton County in the late 1960s.  Minnick earned B.S. (1939) and M.Ag. (1954) degrees from Oregon State College.

 

New Collections:

Denny Conn Papers, 1998-2017 (MSS Conn)

headshot2 0815Denny Conn is a homebrewer, author, educator, and advisor in the Oregon brewing community. The Denny Conn Papers is an all electronic collection and consists of born-digital materials (.mp3, video, documents) and items digitized by Conn. These materials document Conn’s work, including documentation related to Conn’s two books Experimental Homebrewing: Mad Science in the Pursuit of Great Beer (2014) and Homebrew All-Stars: Top Homebrewers Share Their Best Techniques and Recipes (2016).

Bonnie B. Hall Botanical Prints, 1989-2003 (MSS HallB)

b-hall-flags_newBonnie B. Hall Botanical Prints consist of serigraphic screen prints created by Bonnie Hall, a scientific illustrator and artist.  Hall was well known, particularly for her botanical prints and was a scientific illustrator for the Department of Entomology at Oregon State University from 1963 -1993.

Zoller Hop Company Records, 1900-2006 (MSS Zoller)

zoller hop farm imageThe Zoller Hop Company Records consists of records and materials created and assembled throughout the first half of the 20th century. The collection contains records of business operations: correspondence and management files, photographs of fields and community events, and digitized versions of two films.  The Zoller Hop Company was located in Independence, Oregon, the “Hop Capital of the World’ during the first half of the 20th century. The company was later owned by Donal MacCarthy and the name was changed to “D.P. MacCarthy & Son.”  The two films have been digitized and are available online: “Spring hop field operations and fall harvest,” 1931 and “Harvesting and processing,” 1945.

Updated Guides:

William L. Finley Papers, 1899-1955 (MSS Finley)

mssfinley-birds-cap-600wThe William L. Finley Papers document the wildlife conservation work of Finley and his wife Irene, and the photography work of Herman T. Bohlman, who worked with Finley in the first decade of the 20th century. Finley was a photographer, filmmaker, and author who wrote and lectured extensively on wildlife conservation issues. The collection includes published and unpublished manuscripts, lecture and field notes, reports, correspondence, photographs, and motion picture films.  Manuscript items and photographs from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital. All of the films held in the collection are also available online.

Thomas B. Searcy Collection, 1889-2013 (MSS Searcy)

mss-searcy-600wThe Thomas B. Searcy Collection documents the land in Sherman County, Oregon, homesteaded by Thomas B. Searcy in 1889; Searcy’s financial interactions with the Moro Grain Growers Association and the Pacific Co-operative Wool Growers Association; and the Searcy family.

Oregon’s Lost Flax Industry – Part 2

This blog post, part two of two, highlights the recent work done by Rachel Lilley, Public Services Assistant in processing the Oregon Flax Fiber Collection and Oregon Custom Weavers Guild Linen Research Notebook, both of which are housed in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center.

This post is contributed by SCARC student archivist Hannah Lawson, a chemistry major with a passion for art, conservation, and preserving history.


Joan Patterson

Joan Patterson

The flax industry held a particular importance to Oregon State University. As one of the leading land grant universities, agriculture was a primary focus of OSU research, and naturally that included flax growing and processing. The impressive Home Economics and Extension Services programs offered at the time extended that research towards the textile applications of the flax fiber. Joan Patterson, a professor specializing in textile design and home furnishings, revolutionized a weaving process for linens that resulted in beautiful, clean textiles that could be used for upholstery. In a newspaper article titled, “Flax has a Future”, Patterson’s linen designs are described as revolutionary. When describing her vision for the future of fiber flax, Patterson’s enthusiasm for the product clearly shows through: “…Its eternal beauty, its exquisite feel, can’t help but make me believe it will find its way into American homes.”

Patterson’s hand woven patterns and techniques nearly landed her a multi-million dollar deal with Chevy automobiles. Unfortunately, while Patterson was featured in multiple magazines and newspapers for her fine linen patterns, the deal eventually fell through, due in part to the financial youth of the Chevy company at the time.

Jesse Harmond

Jesse Harmond

Another important contributor to the research of flax processing and production was Jesse Harmond, who came to OSC from the US Department of Agriculture. While at OSC, Harmond was involved with the design and manufacturing of new mechanical machines for processing flax fibers. Harmond released several publications on these machines, some of which mechanically deseeded flax, aided in harvesting flax, or dried extracted flax fibers. In one of these publications, Harmond acknowledges that the future of the flax industry hinged on the mechanization of flax processing.

Flax puller

Flax puller

Marilinn Fabric

Marilinn Fabric

Additionally, Jesse Harmond was the force behind the creation of a linen-wool fabric he called ‘Marilinn’, named after Marion County, where the linen originated, and Linn County, where the wool originated. The Marilinn fabric was yet another attempt to expand the commercial market for Oregon flax and linens. The combination of 80% wool and 20% flax made a fabric which was soft yet strong, and had better colorfastness, or the ability to retain dye colors, which linen alone did not.

Harmond and Patterson formed Oregon Custom Weavers, a company that specialized in the production of fine linens made from Oregon flax. Their hopes were to expand their business to a national market. Unfortunately for Jesse Harmond and Joan Patterson, their research was concurrent with the beginning of the end for commercial flax growing in Oregon.

The flax industry in Oregon reached its’ peak during World War II, when flax and linen were deemed essential war products. Oregon was once home to 14 different flax processing plants, and over 18,000 acres of flax crops. However, the removal of farm subsidies in the post-war years, as well as the introduction and expansion of new synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon in the early 20th century, were devastating blows to the once booming industry. The labor-intensive nature of flax production and processing prevented the industry from becoming an essential portion of modern Oregon agriculture, despite the efforts made to revive it at Oregon State University through Joan Patterson, Jesse Harmond, and many others. While Patterson and Harmond’s reports and research were promising – and Patterson’s linen products extremely well-received, the languishing flax industry proved to be too great of a hurdle to cross. Flax production was unable to match the demand for linens and yarns that Patterson’s designs created.

Joan Patterson weaving

Joan Patterson weaving

Today, Oregon flax maintains an important part of Oregon’s history and the history of Oregon State University. Independent farmers in Oregon still produce flax, both for its use as a textile and for its benefits as a healthy food product for livestock and humans. The Oregon Fiber Flax Collection in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center houses a rare array of flax yarns and products, a humble glimpse at what once was a signature product in Oregon agriculture and craft.


Citations:

Tobin, LA. A history and analysis of the Oregon linen industry. Oregon State University, 1960.

https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9019s737q

 

Oregon’s Lost Flax Industry – Part 1

This blog post, part one of two, highlights the Oregon Flax Fiber Collection and the Oregon Custom Weavers Guild Linen Research Notebook at the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, which were recently processed by Public Services Assistant Rachel Lilley. Stay tuned next week for the full story of flax fiber in Oregon.

This post is contributed by SCARC student archivist Hannah Lawson, a chemistry major with a passion for art, conservation, and preserving history.


man showing flax 1926


Man showing flax, 1926

The flax fiber is durable, soft, and breathable – great for a multitude of textile applications, including paint canvas, sails, and clothing. These are all made from linen, which is the general term for any fabric that is made from woven flax. Flax is one of the oldest known plants specifically cultivated for use as a textile – modern technology and analytical methods show us that linen was used to wrap mummies in Egyptian tombs as early as 3000 BCE. The fiber itself is extracted from the bast, or the woody stem of the flax plant. It is primarily composed of the polysaccharide cellulose, which allows the fiber to be hydrophilic, or water-absorptive, which aids the breathability of flax as linen. The rigid structure, which comes from the cement-like lignin and crystalline molecular form, gives flax fiber excellent strength – it can be 2-3 times stronger than other cellulosic fibers, such as cotton. The recyclability of the natural fiber and the ability to use the entire plant during processing made flax an extremely economical fiber in early agriculture.

In The United States, flax production flourished for decades in the North, in states like Minnesota and Wisconsin. But with the advent of the cotton gin, which made cotton farming vastly more profitable and efficient, the flax industry saw a sharp decline in those areas.

women wigwaming flax


Women wigwaming flax

But while flax production fell in most areas of the country, it flourished in the state of Oregon, where the well-drained Willamette Valley soil and temperate climate were perfect for growing high quality flax. Oregon flax, which was noted by explorers Merriweather Lewis and William Clark during their 1804 expedition to be superior to flax grown in other parts of the United States, quickly became renowned for its finer texture, longer fiber strands, and lustrous finish. Samples of Oregon flax and its products (linen upholstery, linseed, and yarns) were recognized repeatedly by World Fairs and various expositions. In 1876, a farmer in Marion County was awarded a bronze medal and a certificate of merit for his flax exhibition in the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. This brought immense attention to Oregon flax, but the industry still faced international competition. Countries like Russia and Belgium were normally the top competitors for flax distribution, but during the chaos of both World Wars, the international flax market was halted. Oregon flax was able to take the spotlight.


Citations:

Tobin, LA. A history and analysis of the Oregon linen industry. Oregon State University, 1960.

https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9019s737q

The OSU Libraries and Press Community Interviewing Project

This post is an interview conducted with Tyger Gruber.  Tyger collected oral histories as part of the Oregon State University Libraries and Press Community Interviewing Project. The project seeks to build community and reduce silos within OSULP by capturing the stories of those who work for the organization. A secondary ambition of the project is to document institutional history for use by future researchers.

A little bit about Tyger:  Hey, I’m a 21-year-old Kinesiology major at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Science. I released an album (Too Busy Dreaming To Fall Asleep), published a novel (Just A Page Away), and am currently writing my second feature screenplay. Aside from my position at SCARC, I work for a researcher/professor at OSU, helping with his projects and work with Jackson Street Youth Shelter. In my free time, I love to play Go (also known as Baduk), Badminton, Starcraft, and anything that involves strategy with a large skill cap. When it boils down to it, I love to learn, grow, and apply the skills I’ve cultivated. I am getting married to my lovely spouse, and after college I have no clue what I’ll be doing with my life. Possibly travel, possibly work, possibly fight for the rights of the proletariat. It’s up in the air. I’m grateful to be alive and surrounded by fresh air, clean water, and loving people. To anyone reading this, if I only have a few sentences to impact your life, I’d say to keep in mind that a raindrop never feels responsible for the flood, remember that your money and attention as a consumer shapes the world, and to do your best to promote good and ignore evil. We judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions, so be kind and give people the benefit of doubt. Spend time cherishing those around you, be kind on yourself, and do the best you can. Nobody’s going to make it out alive and the dinosaurs are only remembered for their bones, so let go of your mistakes and enjoy the time you’ve got. My favorite quote is by a writer on his deathbed and it goes something like “My whole life I knew that everyone died someday, but in the back of my head I always thought I’d be the exception.” In other words, everyone thinks their internal monologue is the most vivid and their story the greatest, so let people have their time. Lift others up and enjoy your own achievements. Lastly, in the words of Desiderata (my favorite poem, read it if you have the time), “Be yourself.”


Tell me a little bit about the project and what interested you in this job?
The project is the brainchild of Chris Peterson, who wanted to capture what life was like in 2018 as an OSU Valley Library worker; and I think he accomplished what he set out to. I was interested in the job because it meant I got to apply my knowledge and love for audio engineering and recording, along with meeting new people and listening to their stories. 
 
Had you done oral histories before?
I had not, but now I have! 
 
What surprised you about the interviews you conducted for the project?
The first dozen people I interviewed would refer to people I’ve never met in their interviews, but as they progressed I was pleasantly surprised to interview the people previously mentioned, and hear them talk about people I’ve already met. It quickly became an interconnected web of people with a common goal that all helped shape each other’s lives for the better.
 
What did you learn about interviewing?
Interviewing is a skill that requires time to become comfortable with. This involves making the interviewee feel as comfortable talking to you and the microphone as possible, speaking as clearly as possible and rolling with the punches when they mention something out of the ordinary that would be useful to have further information on. I learned that interviewing is an art that I would like to learn more about.
 
How did you select interviewees?
Chris Peterson selected interviewees based upon their connection to The Valley Library.
 
How did you prepare?
I prepared by memorizing the questions so they would feel and sound more natural during the interview, and with retired folks, I would read over their Vita so I would know which direction to steer the interview in.
 
What were some of the issues you encountered in conducting the oral histories?
There were a few blunders on my part. During one interview, the recorder didn’t start and a couple minutes in I had to ask to restart the interview. Another time the entire interview file got corrupted and nearly had to be redone, but luckily was recovered. There were a few times when planning went out the door and rescheduling had to happen, but overall it went smooth and the vast majority of interviews were wonderful.
 
What were some of the things you learned in the course of conducting the interviews?
I learned that people’s stories are even more diverse than I used to conceive. That every workplace is a web of lives connected by various encounters. And that there’s quite a lot of history in the present.
 
How did the interviews shift your perspective? 
The interviews shifted my perspective on libraries. They are not what they’re made out to be in movies and stories, but rather workplaces filled with individuals motivated toward a common goal.
 

Interested in learning more or listening to the oral histories?  Check out the project’s page

This initiative is a product of the Oral History Program at the Special Collections and Archives Research CenterOregon State University Libraries.

January 2019 Guide Additions to SCARC Collections

SCARC completed 7 new or updated finding aids in January 2019.  The following is a list and a little information about what we accomplished. These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, our Archon finding aids interface, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”).


Collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Oral History Collection, 1996-1998 (OH 028)

oh28-600wThis collection is comprised of interviews with U.S. Forest Service employees, Oregon State University faculty, and other individuals involved with the creation, development, and use of the H.J> Andrews Experimental Forest, which is located in the west-central Oregon Cascades.  The interviews were conducted by historian Max Geier in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the forest’s designation and were used in the writing of Geier’s book, Necessary Work: Discovering Old Forests, New Outlooks, and Community on the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, 1948-2000.  All of the collection’s microcassettes have been migrated to digital format and the raw audio of most of these recorded interviews is available online.

Oregon Custom Weavers Guild Linen Research Notebook, 1950 (MSS OCWG)

mss-ocwg-600wThis notebook documents textile research done by Oregon Custom Weavers Guild founds, Jesse E. Harmond and Joan Patterson.  The collection is comprised of a notebook containing samples of Oregon linen subjected to various strength, fading, and shrinkage tests; and tow linen color samples of different linear densities.

Oregon Fiber Flax Collection, 1940-2001 (MSS ORFiberFlax)

fx-52-8-39-600wCollected by Nancy Arthur Hoskins, a weaving instructor and author on textiles, in the course of her own research on flax, this collection documents the processing, marketing and use of Oregon-grown fiber flax and the work of Joan Patterson, Professor of Clothing , Textiles, and Related Arts and Jesse E. Harmond, USDA agricultural engineer and head of Small Seed Harvesting and Processing Investigations at Oregon State College.  The collection is comprised of correspondence, publications, reports, photographs, notes, news clippings, and artifacts.

Gerald W. Williams Electronic Records, 1985-2008 (MSS WilliamsGElectronic)

DSCF1904These records include images, word processing files, PowerPoint presentations, and other electronic formats that chronicle Williams’s research interests and scholarly productivity during his years working as a historian and sociologists for the U.S. Forest Service.  The entire collection is born-digital and is available upon patron request or for use in the SCARC reading room.  Included are materials documenting the history of the Forest Service as well as various national forests across the United States.  The collection likewise reflects Williams’s involvement in historical outreach activities and events, his interest in forest fire policy, and his study of editorial cartoons as historical sources.  Biographical date and professional documents detailing Williams’s work over time are included as well.

New Collections:

Hop Growers of America Records. 1956-2004 (MSS HGA)

usa hopsThe Hop Growers of America Records document the functioning of the organization, which was established in 1956 to create a healthier and more efficient United States hops industry.  The bulk of the collection consists of meeting minutes and reports, including crop statistics.

William J. Ripple Papers, 1927-2014 (MSS Ripple)

Ripple2010The Ripple Papers consist of materials collected and generated by William J. Ripple, Professor of Forest Ecosystems and Society.  The collection consists primarily of reference materials on landscape ecology and trophic cascades as well as over 100 of Ripple’s publications.

Noreen and Harriett Watts Camp Fire Girls Collection, 1917-1985 (MSS CampFireGirls)

Law of the Camp Fire GirlsThis collection documents the activities, membership, and organizational structure of a Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls troop headquartered in Burbank California.  The bulk of the collection is comprised of two scrapbooks assembled by Noreen Watts and Harriett Watts, her mother and “guardian” of her daughter’s troop.  Financial records for a Camp Fire Girls troop in Portland, Oregon in 1917-1919 are also part of the collection.