Morning walk research challenge: who is this Graf guy?

This morning I send this query to Rachel Lilley, Public Services Archivist, “Who’s Graf? Walking challenge.”

Here’s what she found!

Designed by architect John Bennes, Graf Hall was completed in 1920 for a total cost of $134,933 (it would have costed $1,729,766 today); it originally included a materials lab, a hydraulics lab, and a steam and gas engine lab, all served by a 5-ton electric crane. Samuel Herman Graf, for whom Graf Hall is named, was born in Portland, Oregon – technically speaking, Bethany, Oregon, a small community northwest of Portland –  August 4th, 1887 to Samuel Graf and Emilie W. Schlueter Graf.

Graf matriculated at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) in 1903 to study engineering, graduating with his first degree – in Electrical Engineering – in 1907. He would go on to complete four more degrees at OAC: a post-baccalaureate degree in Electrical Engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, both in 1908; a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in 1909; and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, also in 1909. Between 1909 and 1954, Graf held several faculty positions in Engineering at Oregon State, beginning as an Assistant in Mechanical Engineering in 1908 while still taking classes. From 1909 to 1912, he was an instructor in Mechanical Engineering; from 1912 to 1920, he was the head of Experimental Engineering; he served as head of the Department of Mechanics and Materials from 1920 to 1934, and of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1934 to 1954. Graf additionally served as Director of Engineering Research from 1928 to 1944, and the Director of the Engineering Experiment Station from 1944 to 1954.

Not long after graduating from OAC, Graf married his first wife; the couple had two sons, Thomas (1913) and Ralf (1915). After his first wife’s death, Graf married Blanche Ann Edlefsen, and the couple had two children, Therese and Samuel, together. Blanche died April 28, 1952, and Graf remarried a third and final time (Violet).

In addition to his teaching and research, Graf served as American Society of Mechanical Engineers(ASME) chapter representative for all states west of Colorado, and later served as the Western Regional Vice President of ASME. Graf was a member of the State Board of Engineering Examiners for 22 years, and served as the Board’s President from 1939 to 1949. In 1949, Graf was named an honorary member of the Professional Engineers of Oregon, an honor conferred to those members of the society whose “achievements and service to engineering have been outstanding.” In 1955, Graf was chosen to serve on the Board of Trustees for Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon; the science building at Linfield – also Graf Hall – was later named in his honor.

Samuel Graf died July 22, 1966 following a stroke.

Early Disease Epidemics in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

This post is the last in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic was well documented, in part because of broad newspaper coverage, photography, and advances in medical science. Despite the pandemic’s detrimental effect in Oregon, where tens of thousands of people became ill and more than 3,600 succumbed, earlier disease outbreaks and pandemics proportionally had a greater impact, especially among Native communities. Most major diseases ravaged Oregon and the Pacific Northwest at one time or another in the late 18th and 19th centuries, including smallpox, malaria, measles, influenza, cholera and typhoid fever. Some of the diseases recurred periodically, sometimes on an annual basis.

Costume of a Callapuya Indian, 1841, by Alfred T. Agate

Although disease was common among the mostly white emigrants on the Oregon Trail, historian William Lang has concluded that most outbreaks occurred prior to their arrival at Ft. Laramie in Wyoming. Many of the disease outbreaks in the late 18th and early 19th centuries transformed into epidemics that decimated the region’s Native populations, due to their lack of immunity because of no prior exposure. It is estimated that between about 1780 and 1850, 97 percent of Oregon’s Native population perished due to introduced diseases. Anthropologist Robert T. Boyd estimated that the population of two western Oregon Native groups, the Chinookan and the Kalapuyan peoples, declined from a pre-contact population of 32,000 to approximately 2,100 by the late 1830s. By the 1850s, disease outbreaks and epidemics had reduced Native populations to a fraction of their pre-contact numbers. However, many chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis, continued to affect the survivors in those communities.

According to Boyd’s Oregon Encyclopedia essay on disease in Native communities, a smallpox epidemic around 1781 was the first documented in Oregon. The documentation included oral tradition from the Clatsop Tribe on Oregon’s north coast and entries in the journals of Lewis and Clark noting pockmarked people in various Native communities. It is likely that this smallpox epidemic spread among many indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest. 

Subsequent smallpox epidemics occurred almost each decade through 1870. A smallpox epidemic in 1853 struck the lower Columbia River region, wiping out as much as half the Native population in some communities. It was the last major epidemic among Native communities, as those populations had already suffered enormous population decline over the previous seventy years. Among non-Native communities, a smallpox epidemic in 1862 was particularly hard on the Aurora Colony. Jacksonville experienced a significant smallpox outbreak in 1868-69, and in 1870 western Oregon experienced a smallpox epidemic.

Jason Lee’s mission, established 1834 near Salem, Visual Instruction Department Lantern Slides, 1900-1940 (P 217)

Outbreaks and epidemics of malaria, called “fever and ague,” in the early 1830s may have been even more virulent and destructive to Native communities than smallpox. It also greatly affected the Anglo population in the area; at one point in 1830, seventy-five people at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver were ill with the disease, though proportionately far fewer died than among the Native population in the region. In 1832 a malaria outbreak at the fort affected an estimated 137 out of 140 people, though few apparently died.  Malaria also affected the Willamette Mission near Salem, established in the mid-1830s. Boyd speculates that the malaria epidemics of the 1830s may have been accompanied by influenza, possibly accounting for the high mortality rate since pneumonia is a complication of both diseases. An influenza epidemic in 1836 on the central Oregon coast and an 1844 outbreak of dysentery on the Lower Columbia also took many lives in Native communities. 

A major measles epidemic in the Pacific Northwest in 1847-48 ravaged the Cayuse Tribe in the mid-Columbia River region, especially its children. This epidemic had a connection to the Whitman Massacre at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley in 1847, as it is thought that Marcus Whitman was killed by a band of Cayuse because of his inability to cure tribal members of the disease. The epidemic affected Native communities as far north as Sitka, in present-day Alaska, and south into the Willamette Valley.  This was the first recorded measles epidemic in the Pacific Northwest, though the disease may have been present in the region as early as 1812.

The last major pandemic of the 19th century was an influenza pandemic in 1889-90. It was commonly called “La grippe” and later known as the “Russian influenza.” An estimated 1 million people succumbed to it worldwide, 13,000 in the U.S. It appeared in Oregon in December 1889, with initial newspaper reports of outbreaks in Astoria, Portland, Pendleton and Albany.  Statistics for Oregon on the extent of the disease, the number of people affected, or the number of deaths are not known. The 1889-90 pandemic was a foreshadowing of what was to come less than twenty years later.

For additional reading on epidemics in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest among Native communities, see Boyd’s Oregon Encyclopedia essay, “Disease Epidemics among Indians, 1770s-1850s” and his Oregon Historical Quarterly article, “The Pacific Northwest Measles Epidemic of 1847-1848” (Vol. 95, no. 1, Spring 1994).

This post was contributed by Larry Landis, Director of Special Collections and Archives. Larry Landis is the director of OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center, and has worked as an archivist at OSU since 1991. He is the author of A School for the People: A Photographic History of Oregon State University. Larry is retiring from OSU on July 1.

The “Spanish” Flu On Campus

This post is the fourth in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

Corvallis citizens saying goodbye to OAC cadets, circa 1918, Oregon State University Military Photographs Collection, 1875-1975 (P 002)

As Oregon Agricultural College students began to arrive back on campus for the start of classes in October 1918, the “Spanish” Flu had not yet arrived in Corvallis, but measures were in place to take care of sick students and to help prevent the spread of the virus.  The presence of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) on OAC’s campus greatly affected the efficiency of caring for sick students, which in turn encouraged Corvallis to follow suit.

SATC field maneuvers and mock battle west of Corvallis, Harriet’s Photograph Collection, 1868-1996 (P HC)

Tracking of cases on the college campus started Tuesday October 1, 1918, the day classes commenced.  The “Report of the College Health Service” in the College Biennial Report of the Board of Regents, 1916-1918, gives an excellent narrative of how the epidemic was controlled on campus, especially among the SATC cadets.  1918 was the first year that treatment was split based on gender.  Male students who fell ill were treated by a medical officer and dentist attached to the SATC, and 8 local physicians.  With the campus Medical Adviser, Dr. Wendell J. Phillips, away on medical leave, female students on the other hand, were treated by the resident nurse, Amy Cyrus, who saw patients in her offices on the ground floor of the Home Economics building and at students’ residences.  From October through December, she attended to 159 cases of “Spanish influenza” and there were no female deaths reported on campus.  The “Report” attributed her success to her efforts to prevent the disease in the first place by teaching students to diagnose the symptoms of the flu, and to protect themselves from it.  As a whole, OAC suffered a total of 785 cases, with only 4 deaths at the end of 1918.

The flu, naturally, impacted student life as well.  Student activities were cancelled or suspended and interactions were limited.  However, despite the restrictions, the football game on October 12, 1918 was allowed to proceed as scheduled.  But others later in the season were played without an audience.  And come spring, the impact of the flu on the basketball season was a major concern.  In the 1920 Beaver yearbook, which covers the 1918-1919 academic year, the Vigilance Committee commended the Freshman class for having shown “a fine spirit of willingness and helpfulness toward the institution and its customs” despite having lost three months of college life due to the cancelation of activities in the Fall 1918 term.

On October 11, the Gazette-Times announced that there were no cases of influenza in Corvallis and OAC students were being given medical attention at the first signs of colds or grippe in order to monitor for development of influenza.  However, the SATC reports paint a different story.  During the second week of classes, the cases numbered close to 200 and an appeal was made for expert medical assistance.  

The third floor of Waldo had been converted into a thirty bed infirmary for male students, similar measures had been taken to isolate sick female students as well.  Courses in hygiene and pharmacy adapted and added lectures in the management of colds and grippe, and also the nature of the Spanish flu.  Sororities and fraternities were closed to visitors, and house mothers received training and supplies to care for their female students.  Any student with a cold was instructed to stay home and not attend any classes.  

In early November, US Major Cross of the medical corps attributed the relative success of the Corvallis epidemic to “above average intelligence” and a successful newspaper education campaign.  At that time, there were only 2 deaths out of 400 cases in Corvallis and 4 deaths out of 600 on campus.  This success was emphasized by the satisfaction of a state official who visited campus after complaints that the school was still operating.  However, when he inspected campus and looked at the statistics, he allowed the college to stay in operation.  In his final report about his visit at OAC, Major Cross reported “that the epidemic had been more successfully controlled at the Oregon Agricultural College than at any center of military training in the country where an equal number of men were concerned.”

By early January 1919, Corvallis reported a decrease in the number of cases reported, despite rumors that there were new cases and the town would have to be quarantined.  On January 9, it was reported that no deaths had occurred since December 26.  But there seems to have been a spike in mid- to late-January 1919 that made it necessary to use Shepard Hall on OAC campus as a hospital, which opened on January 11, 1919.  This was due to a shortage of nurses and the difficulty of isolating students in dorms and other living communities such as sororities or fraternities.  Although beds were provided, students had to provide their own linens in the hospital.  By the 13th, 19 more cases were reported, bringing the total to 51, but officials maintained that there was no need to worry about the increase.

February continued to see impacts to life on campus.  Although the demobilization of troops was a bright spot, a second quarantine prevented a return to normal and an impact on the college basketball season.  Later in the month, there was also no indoor memorial service for college librarian Ida Kidder, who passed on February 28, 1919, because of the influenza epidemic.  Instead, a memorial service was held in the open space in front of the library and she laid in state in the main corridor of the library on March 2.

As the epidemic subsided, thoughts turned to the future.  Due to the need for nurses demonstrated by the pandemic, OAC began offering home nursing classes spring term 1919.

This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.

The “Spanish” Flu in Corvallis

This post is the third in a series on the effects of the “Spanish” Flu pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

The course of illness in Corvallis and on the Oregon Agricultural Campus campus was more contained than in other regions of the state, especially the larger city of Portland.  Corvallis took measures to limit gatherings before Portland and OAC had wards set up to isolate sick students.  The presence of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) on OAC’s campus greatly affected the efficiency of caring for sick students, which in turn encouraged Corvallis to follow suit.

In late September 1918, just as OAC students were arriving in Corvallis to start their classes in October, Benton county residents were requested to contact their local health officer, H. S. Pernot, on the authority of the Surgeon General of the United States if they exhibited symptoms of the flu.  This measure was enacted to create as little impact on war work as possible and help prevent the epidemic from spreading.  However, more extreme measures were not put in place.

Postcard reading “Train loads of students arrive at O. A. C. September 28, 1918,” G. Herbert Fredell Photographic Collection, 1918-1919 (P 204)

The Spanish Flu was first mentioned in the Gazette-Times in relation to practices troops overseas were implementing to combat the flu on August 20, 1918.  The first Corvallis death would come a month later when Mrs. Vena Rickard Clark, a former Corvallis resident who called Portland home, succumbed to the virus on September 28 while visiting New York City.  It was believed she had contracted the flu while sightseeing in Boston.

As of October 11, the Gazette-Times announced that there were no cases of influenza in Corvallis and OAC students were being given medical attention at the first signs of colds or grippe in order to monitor for development of influenza.  On the 14th, the Gazette-Times announced that with the situation under control, the number of cases of influenza were decreasing.  The SATC Commander Colonel A. C. Sharp found the situation very encouraging and elaborated that it did not even compare to “real epidemics” he had witnessed.  A census of nurses already planned to be completed by Christmas, was fast tracked in order to supply the War Department with the numbers of nurses available for future need.

A week later on Saturday October 19,  a Gazette-Times article announced that churches and schools would be closed starting the next day and although more information was not available yet, the situation looked promising.  They reported only several cases in Corvallis and the campus was “very much better.”  Most of the cases in Corvallis at that time seemed to be downtown.  The newspaper advised “To sit tight, keep cool, and spray.”  

Albany and the rest of Linn County followed suit on November 2, 1918, when they closed schools on orders from the State that all schools be closed.  At the time, they reported having no deaths due to the flu. 

On November 8, 1918, Major Cross of the United States’ Medical Corps, attributed the relative success of the Corvallis epidemic to “above average intelligence” and a successful newspaper education campaign.  At that time, there were only 2 deaths out of 400 cases in Corvallis and 4 deaths out of 600 on campus.  

After the middle of November, the intensity of the epidemic began to weaken. It was fortunate that was the case, since the official announcement of the armistice on November 11 caused jubilant rejoicing and plans for a large celebration in Portland on the 16th.  But this rejoicing and groups celebrating the end of the war brought on another wave of the flu.

Corvallis Gazette-Times, December 5, 1918

The city of Corvallis locked down in early December and instituted a ban on “unnecessary gatherings,” which was very loosely defined and understood to allow for school attendance and businesses to keep their doors open.  The city wanted to make sure the flu would not impact Christmas celebrations and “In the meantime, the public is advised to take care of itself, sit tight and to investigate all rumors before passing them on.” 

By early January 1919, Corvallis reported a decrease in the number of cases reported, despite rumors that there were new cases and the town would have to be quarantined.  On January 9, the Gazette-Times reported that no deaths had occurred since December 26.  But there seems to have been a spike soon after this report in mid- to late-January 1919 that made it necessary to shut the town down again.  At this time, City Health Officer Dr. R. L. Bosworth printed reports about homes under quarantine, with addresses, but did not list the numbers of residents infected.  The reports did note that many times whole homes were sick, so the number sick was much greater than the number of homes under quarantine.

Corvallis fared much better than other places and those in quarantine were less than 1% of the total population.  However, cases continued to be reported, and more and more homes were placed under quarantine than were released.  Residents were encouraged to do all that they could to “stamp out the disease.”  On January 17, the city council voted to close the town, which would include closing schools, churches, theaters, and pool and dance halls.  It was also reported that there were no recent deaths from the flu and there were plans to establish a hospital at the Evangelical Bible School in hopes of copying the college’s success in isolating flu cases.

Example of homes listed under quarantine. Corvallis Gazette-Times, January 15, 1919.

On February 7, 1919, there were no new cases on campus and only 5 homes in Corvallis under quarantine.  By February 13, the Gazette-Times reported that Corvallis was flu free, and had been for several days, and was the first of the larger towns to report being so.

The pandemic in Corvallis lasted through Spring 1919.  Frank McCready, who died April 11, 1919, was reported as the last casualty of the flu pandemic.  Two weeks later on April 25, 1919, fear of a new outbreak was raised when neighboring town and state capital Salem reported five new cases. However, that outbreak didn’t spread to Corvallis.

Fear of another outbreak during the 1919-1920 flu season was high, and preparedness was the key for any potential new outbreak.  From the previous year, Corvallis had already established effective measures to prevent the spread of disease and these would need to be put in place again if necessary.  Corvallis planned on quarantining those infected as the main measure.

This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.

The “Spanish” Flu Arrives in Oregon

This post is the second in a series on the effects of the “Spanish” Flu pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

The name “Spanish Flu” was a misnomer, and for the most part, Oregon newspapers denied the connection and referred to it as the flu or influenza, especially as the pandemic progressed. The name originated from the fact that at the time Spain did not censor news, and the epidemic there was widely publicized, giving rise to the common but totally misleading belief that the virus spread from cases in Spain.

Early on, the flu was compared to the 1889-1890 flu epidemic, referred to at the time as La Grippe, with its similar symptoms and progression.  The theory was floated that this previous epidemic gave older people immunity to the “Spanish” Influenza, and explained why this new flu impacted younger people and those who were not previously exposed.

Portland, Oregon with Mt. Hood in the background, Visual Instruction Department Lantern Slides, 1900-1940 (P 217)

The number of cases and fatality of the strain remains uncertain even today.  It is largely believed that there were at least 50 million deaths worldwide, and at least 500,000 of those were in the United States.  In Oregon, about 50,000 were diagnosed with the flu and 3,675 died, which was above the national average. However, Corvallis, and Oregon Agricultural College in particular, fared quite well and had much lower fatality rates.  

The flu impacted the United States in three waves.  The earliest wave originating from a military base in Kansas, the Second Wave started when the virus returned to Boston with soldiers from fighting overseas in August 1918, and the Third Wave, a resurgence of cases in Winter 1919.  The flu subsided later that summer.  When the flu arrived in the United States, soldiers in Europe had already been taking measures against the flu.  As of August 20th, American soldiers “in camp” in the European theatre, were subjected to “gargle parades” first thing in the morning.  This antiseptic throat rinse was designed to ward off influenza.

The Polk County Post, October 11, 1918

Crowded conditions and the movement of troops during World War I likely contributed to the spread of the 1918 virus around the world.  From Europe and Boston it spread, and you can track the spread by tracking the movement of troops.  The efficient railway system and steamships made this virus spread even quicker.  Furthermore, the war effort exacerbated already existing issues with congregating and large groups of people as people gathered for parades, rallies, and bond drives, and limited medical professionals.  Within six weeks of its outbreak in Boston, all of North America was affected.

Scene at Fort Stevens, Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums (P 303)

The first case seems to have arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the middle of September 1918, having arrived from Philadelphia in Washington state as troops moved to Camp Lewis.  The first case in Oregon was reported, when it spread from Camp Lewis to Fort Stevens, near Astoria.  The mayor of Astoria was quick to quarantine his city, while the city of Portland, being further away, was slower.  At first, health officials in Portland relied on a city-wide mask ordinance while residents ignored anti-crowding measures and quarantine laws and continued on as usual.  In line with the continued movement of troops through the Northwest, the first case was reported in Portland on October 4 when a sick soldier traveling to Texas was too sick to reach his final destination.  Only as cases grew, did push back subside; the toll was too much to ignore.  

The Morning Oregonian, October 5, 1918

The next day, the first instance of Oregonians affected by the flu was printed on the front page of The Morning Oregonian on October 5, 1918.  In the article titled “Sneezers musn’t stay in theaters – health officer orders the ejection of coughers also,” City Health Officer Dr. George Parrish supported the removal of potentially sick individuals, while not closing the places of gathering themselves.  This is likely due to his understanding that “Several persons,” he stated, “have told me of possible cases and several doctors have been reported as having treated cases of Spanish influenza, but inquiry proves that none of the cases was the real thing . . . However, we are taking every possible means to prevent spread of the disease in case it should appear.”

With this emphasis on preventative measures, on October 7, 300 slides were distributed to theaters around the state to educate residents on preventative measures and The Oregonian carried the headline, “Cut Out Sneezing – Doctors War Cry.”  Two days later, on the 9th, The Oregonian was still reporting that the “Influenza in City is Under Control,” while the City Health Officer contradicted this statement when he canceled a business trip to Chicago underlying a larger fear.

It was at this time that the course of disease began to differentiate its impact in different communities.  For example, Corvallis was ahead of Portland, and they canceled all public gatherings and established a hospital to aid in isolation of new cases.  Portland followed suit two days later when the cases in the city were declared at 60 (although they were likely twice that) and the state reported 200 cases.  And by the 13th, all hospital beds that could be made available for flu patients in the city were full.  Portland saw an influx of people from surrounding rural areas who didn’t have access to the necessary care and from those working in shipyards and other war industries.

The evolution of the pandemic in Corvallis and on the Oregon Agricultural College campus will be discussed in coming weeks.

The Morning Oregonian, November 4, 1918

This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.

Morning research run challenge: what’s the story behind this bench?

Campus is so beautiful right now, painfully so because it is also so empty. This path is one of my very favorite on campus and I was drawn there early in the morning last week.

I wanted Rachel Lilley, super duper Public Services Archivist, to find this picture because I love how small the tree is!

It turns out this one was a real stumper! She still has some questions, so please do message us at if you have answers…

Just off the path bisecting McNary Field, and roughly stationed at the point where all three paths meet, you’ll find a roughly-hewn stone bench. Edged in moss, and softly pitted from over a century of Oregon weather, the bench sits invitingly beneath what is now a massive deciduous tree. The plaque on the backrest reads:

 For H.R.S.

Two roads diverged in the woods, I took the one less traveled “with you” and that has made all the difference.

From J.A.S

The quote, of course, is a slightly altered line from Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Takenfirst published in The Atlantic Monthly in August 1915 and later included in his collection Mountain Interval (1916).

Referred to as the “Campus Seat” in a photograph captured the year it was installed, the stone bench was a gift of the class of 1903. In an article in the Orange Owl in October 1926, “Historic Monuments Found on Our Campus,” Professor of Geology D. C. Livingston stated the seat was carved out of a rock that was deposited by a glacier in Oregon’s prehistoric past. How the Class of ’03 came by this massive stone is uncertain.

Humorously, by 1920 the bench had earned a moniker a bit more salacious than “Campus Seat” – the “Fusser’s Bench” (fussing was a term used in the 1920s to mean “necking,” or “making out”). In fact, the bench, situated on what was once called “Old Administration” path, seems to have had a long history as a place of romance and assignations. The February 1928 edition of the Orange Owl jokes that on the “bench on lower campus there is a sign that reads: ‘Class of ’03.’ Something must be wrong because you seldom see more than two there.” As a senior, Frieda Linder, Associated Women Students President, wrote with fond nostalgia of the bench: “We can visualize the stone bench of ’03 drenched in blue moonlight, and recall with amusement the mad rush to reach home by closing hour on starry nights.”

Perhaps not as romantically but more momentously, the class of 1927 buried its “will” and the “class prophecy…exactly one yard in front of the right leg of the stone bench,” unearthing it 25 years later in 1952.

The dedication on the backrest, however, sadly remains a mystery. A search for “bench” in Oregon Digital, though it revealed additional information about the bench itself, surfaced no information about the plaque, or the two people whose initials are inscribed there. Keeping in mind this was a gift of the Class of 1903, the initials could belong to two students who graduated that year and who later paid for the installation of the plaque. No two students with those initials graduated in 1903, however. In 1916, a year after The Road Not Taken was published, Harley R. Shields and James A. Straughan graduated from Oregon Agricultural College. But so too did James A. Sathers.

This correspondent chose to abandon the search for matching initials in the yearbooks of the 1930s, but perhaps one of our readers will take it up. All our yearbooks are digitized as a set, and are available on Oregon Digital. From the digital collection’s main page, you can click on “Decade” along the left side of the page to narrow your search.

Do you know the identities of the “H.R.S” and “J.A.S” on the Class of 1903 bench? Please reach out and let us know (seriously, it’s killing me)!

Afternoon walk research challenge: what’s this building?

Here’s the afternoon walk research challenge I gave Public Services Archivist Rachel Lilley late in the work day on Thursday: what is this building, who is it named after, and what’s the story of the right side? Hint for the last is “food.”

She jumped right in yesterday morning — probably because I’d already sent her a Friday morning research challenge. 😆

Here’s what she wrote!

Hovland Hall* – designed by Portland architect John Virginius Bennes** – was constructed in 1919, and originally served as the home of the Horticultural Products department. In fact, if you look closely at a photograph taken of the building in 1920, you can see the name etched above the front entryway, complete with the Classical, architectural affectation of using “V” in place of “U.”

When it was constructed, the Horticultural Products building was incredibly modern, boasting thelatest equipment in its laboratories, and allowing for cutting-edge research. The laboratories were “well equipped for giving instruction in…fruit packing, vegetable grading and crating, and systematic pomology” (the science of growing fruit). The building was also equipped with a “40-horse-power boiler for high pressure steam,” and the “juice room” in the building’s basement allowed for the manufacture of “fruit juices, carbonated beverages, and vinegars.” From pressing and filtering cider, to canning berries, the Horticultural Products building left its students and faculty desiring little. In 1923, the west wing of the building was added; this space would later become the laboratories of the Food Science and Technology department. The nearly-$20,000 contract for building and outfitting the “annex” – the small addition to the right of the main entryway – included the purchase of a “modern cannery for instruction and experimental work.”

Over the course of the past century, Hovland Hall has seen a number of tenants. What began life as the “Horticvltvral Prodvcts” building became the home of “Food Technology” in 1941. By 1950, “Food Technology” was re-christened “Food Industries.” When a new food technology building – now Wiegand Hall – was constructed in 1951, the Farm Crops Department was relocated to Hovland and the building subsequently became the “Farm Crops building.” Farm Crops vacated the Hovland with the construction of the Crop Science building in 1982, and the Computer Science Department took up residence. The building’s present-day namesake is Dr. C. Warren Hovland, professor of philosophy and religion who taught at Oregon State from 1949 to 1986. Presently, Hovland Hall serves as both an administrative wing for Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the home of the Peace Studies program.

But this wouldn’t be a Morning Run Research Challenge, without a bit of a challenge! Just in front of the steps into Hovland, set into the concrete, is a mysterious plaque. It is four squares high, by four squares wide, and each square contains a number. Right off the bat, we can solve half the mystery. As expertly reported by Tiah Edmunson-Morton – SCARC’s Outreach and Instruction Archivist – the numbers on the plaque are an example of what is known as a fourth order magic square, “[adding] up to [the same number in] all directions, corner to corner and diagonally.” Historically, third order magic squares – three-by-three squares in which adding the numbers vertically, horizontally, and diagonally results in the same sum – were known in China as early as 190 BCE. Fourth order magic squares can be dated to India in the late 6th century, and examples of third to ninth order magic squares can be found in the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity (983 CE).

The real mysteries of the magic square plaque outside Hovland Hall remain: who installed it, and when? As Edmunson-Morton surmises, it could have been the faculty or students of the Computer Science department. No definitive proof has yet been located, however, and this part of the mystery remains…unsolved.

*Fun Fact: Want to know more about buildings on OSU’s campus? Check out our OSU Buildings Histories Guide! The entry for each building includes information about the building’s namesake, date of construction (and renovations), architect, square footage, and often a picture! 

**Fun Fact, Bonus Edition: In total, Bennes designed forty buildings – plus ten additions and remodels – on OSU’s campus between 1907 and 1941, including the Armory, Agricultural Hall, Snell Hall, and Weatherford. An Oregon Encyclopedia entry written by SCARC’s own Director, Larry Landis, has more information on Bennes’s life and work.

Morning research run challenge: who’s name is on this bench?

This morning I nearly stumped Public Services Archivist Rachel Lilley!

Here’s what I sent her: “I actually have zero idea about this one – it’s a bench I used to pass on my way to work and have long wondered…”

By 10:41AM she’d solved it. Links are embedded in this post, and remember you can do your own historic OSU research online using Oregon Digital and ScholarsArchive!

And now — heeeerrrrre’s Rachel!

Found nestled in the boughs of one of Oregon State’s glorious rhododendrons, on the walking path between the Strand Agricultural building and Gilkey Hall, this bench is a memorial to Scott Donald Henderson. The plaque affixed to the bench’s backrest quotes from John Lennon’s peace anthem Imagine, and lists the years of Henderson’s birth and death (1964 and 1988, respectively). One would think that with these biographical details in hand, finding more information about Scott D. Henderson would be fairly straightforward. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like a good “puzzler”), historical research can sometimes be trickier than we expect.

In this case, the wrench in the works comes in the form of Scott Perry Henderson. Scott P. Hendersonof Toledo, Oregon attended Oregon State University in the mid- to late-1970s, graduating in 1980with a Bachelor of Science in the College of Liberal Arts.

Scott Donald Anderson is listed as a Freshman in the 1983 Beaver and, curiously, as a Senior in the 1984 Beaver. In both years, he is pictured alongside his Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers. He is not listed, however, in any previous or subsequent Beavers, nor is he listed in the 1984, 1985, 1986, or 1987 Commencement programs. There is, however, a Scott D. Henderson – of Beaverton – listed in the 1988 Commencement program, and this Scott Henderson happens to have also graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Liberal Arts. Since Scott Perry and Scott Donald are the only Scott Hendersons who graduated in the 1980s, chances are high that the Scott D. listed in the 1988 Commencement is the Scott Donald Henderson memorialized on the plaque.

But wait! There’s one more twist! The February 1989 issue of the Oregon Stater – OSU’s alumni magazine – includes an “In Memoriam” listing for Scott Donald Henderson. While that listing states, correctly, that Scott D. was affiliated with Delta Tau Delta, it incorrectly includes him in the Class of 1980, Scott P.’s graduating class. If we assume the dates on the bench are correct, and Scott D. was born in 1964, he would have had to matriculate at OSU as a ‘tween to graduate in 1980.

All this is by way of saying that historical research can be messy. It can throw curveballs and heaters, and sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for the walk. Scott Donald Henderson passed away in Corvallis, February 29, 1988.

The 1918-19 Flu Pandemic: Dr. Wendell J. Phillips

This post is the first in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

Over the past 250 years, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest have endured several epidemics and pandemics. These periodic bouts of malaria, yellow fever, smallpox and influenza have had profound effects, particularly on Native American communities.

Most akin to the current COVID-19 crisis was the 1918-1919 influenza. This worldwide pandemic took the lives of an estimated 50 million people globally; in Oregon more than 3,600 people perished from fall 1918 into spring 1919, and many suffered lasting health effects for years afterward. Oregon Agricultural College was not spared from the pandemic, though the college and the local community fared better than many communities.  

One of OAC’s earliest and highest profile casualties of the 1918-19 pandemic was Dr. Wendell James Phillips, who was OAC’s first college physician and head of the Student Health Service.  He died in late October 1918 while on leave from OAC serving as a military physician – one of two OAC faculty casualties of World War I. Dr. Phillips came to OAC in Fall 1916 to inaugurate the college’s health service. 

Phillips (seated right) at Louisiana State University, courtesy of the Louisiana State University Archives. 

Phillips was born on November 30, 1886 in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, north of Harrisburg. He earned his undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University in 1911, where he played football and basketball. Phillips received his medical degree from the Jefferson Medical College of the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in June 1915. He then served as a resident physician at Philadelphia’s St. Agnes Hospital. Phillips married Ruth Haas in August 1916, just prior to moving to Corvallis. 

When Phillips arrived at OAC in early September 1916, he was charged with outfitting the new the Student Health Service, which consisted of a clinic in the men’s gymnasium. His work with establishing OAC’s health service was widely reported in Portland and other Oregon newspapers. The new health service quickly outgrew its original space and ultimately relocated to what is now the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center. Over the next eighteen month Phillips laid the groundwork for the robust health service that has served OSU for more than 100 years. 

Station Building (left), 1916, around the time that it became the Student Health Services Building —

Phillips was highly regarded by faculty and students. He was a faculty member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Phillips also served as the medical advisor for the college’s athletics teams and was a charter member of the college’s chapter of Sigma Delta Psi, a national athletic honorary fraternity. He undertook specialized training in the summer of 1917 to become an ear, nose and throat specialist. Within the local community, Phillips led a league of church-affiliated basketball teams during the winter of 1918. As the college physician, he prepared a bulletin on hygiene that included treatments for colds, poison oak, and other common illnesses suffered by college students.  

Dr. Phillips doing dental work in the Student Health Services building —

In April 1918, Phillips took a leave of absence from OAC when he was ordered to report for military service in the U.S. Army as part of the war effort. On the eve of his departure from Corvallis, Phillips and another local physician who was also entering the Army were honored at a banquet at the Hotel Julian. Phillips entered the Army Medical Corps and was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant and trained at the Army’s Medical School at Camp Lee, Virginia. He was awaiting orders to be sent to France when he contracted influenza, and passed away from the resulting pneumonia on October 13, 1918 at the camp’s base hospital, just a few weeks short of his 32nd birthday. He was interred in the Union Cemetery in his hometown of Selinsgrove on October 16. 

Phillips was highly lauded after his death. His obituary in the Corvallis Gazette-Times described him as untiring, reporting that he had seen more than 4,000 patients between January and April 1918. The January 1919 OAC Alumnuscharacterized Phillips as “naturally full of energy,” one who “never seemed to tire,” and who was ”always ready to answer a call at any time of the night as well as the day.” The college’s 1918-20 biennial report section on the college in the world war noted Phillips’ passing:

As College Physician he touched the lives of all students, and by his sympathetic interest and untiring energy made his professional influence felt throughout the institution. Technically competent and personally accomplished, he inspired confidence and friendship among both faculty and students, all of whom were deeply grieved by his untimely death.

Phillips was honored as an Oregon State Gold Star member – those Oregon Staters who gave their life during WWI and to whom the Memorial Union is dedicated. When Oregon State’s new Student Health Service building (now Plageman Hall) opened in 1936, the State Board of Higher Education approved the placement of a bronze plaque in Phillips’ honor in the vestibule of the building. The plaque was provided by his widow, Ruth Phillips.

This post was contributed by Larry Landis, Director of Special Collections and Archives. Larry Landis is the director of OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center, and has worked as an archivist at OSU since 1991. He is the author of A School for the People: A Photographic History of Oregon State University. Larry is retiring from OSU on July 1.

Morning run research challenge!

It’s a Two-sday triple play with 4 visual pictorial clues! What building is this? Who is it named after? And what is underneath? Bonus points for a ghost story.

Rachel Lilley, our Public Services Archivist, is always game for a morning research challenge and has been a great sport at fielding my random queries. I won’t lie, there are days I only go for a run because I know she is waiting for a mystery!

I’ve also been posting these on our department Twitter, so you can play along on your own

Here’s what she gave me today. I know you’ll agree she is a super star. AND she did all this because we have so much online!! Links are embedded in the text so you can learn more on your own.

Part I: Originally constructed as a women’s dormitory, Sackett Hall was built to help “alleviate a severe student housing shortage on campus due to the post World War II enrollment surge.” Prior to its completion, female students complained that the University had waited too long to begin construction, and that the housing crisis on campus had already hit its breaking point. The Building and General Labor Union – Local 1386 – additionally argued the job was unfair to workers, though the reasoning is unclear. In spite of these protests, the building – which is divided into four quadrants with two wings per quadrant – was completed in 1948. In the spring of 1950 it was dedicated to Beatrice Walton Sackett, a member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and an alumni.

Part II: It has long been “rumored” that an underground system of tunnels, or “catacombs,” runs beneath the university, including Sackett Hall; this “rumor” is especially pernicious during late October, and has been known to surface at least once a year in SCARC’s Reading Room. As with all urban legends and rumors, there is a kernel of truth at the center: there are indeed tunnels running beneath Sackett Hall. Not catacombs, which would imply bricked-over caverns used as burial chambers, but rather the tunnel system used by university facilities and maintenance crews to service the network of pipes that heat and cool university buildings. Moreover, despite long-held belief to the contrary, there is no “secret entrance” to the tunnels and, as they are used regularly by campus staff, they aren’t especially conducive to wild parties.

Part III: A second rumor, involving Sackett Hall’s basement and the connecting steam tunnels, alleges that infamous serial killer Ted Bundy used the steam tunnels beneath Sackett to abduct and kill OSU coed Roberta Kathleen Parks. There is no evidence to substantiate this rumor; Park’s disappearance has never been explained, and her case remains unsolved. The circumstances of Parks’ abduction may in fact have been conflated with that of Diane Wyckoff, who was killed in her dorm room February 8, 1972. A tree was planted, and a memorial plaque installed, in memory of Wyckoff; the plaque and tree can be found in front of Kidder Hall at the edge of the Library Quad.