SCARC Anti-Racist Action: Addressing the Use of the Athletics-Related Phrase “Civil War”

As Beaver and Duck fans throughout Oregon prepare for the annual rivalry football game between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon this week, this post highlights recent work by Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) staff to address the use of the phrase “Civil War” to refer to the long-standing athletic rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.

As part of our ongoing commitment to engage in anti-racist archival practices, SCARC staff are identifying harmful language in our existing collection finding aids in order to change the language where appropriate or otherwise acknowledge it and give context for both its historic and continued use. For more information about our work, please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement online.

Within SCARC collections, the phrase “Civil War” – in reference to the OSU-UO football game – is used to describe materials related to the annual football game. The term is used by material creators, donors, and SCARC staff. In June 2020, Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray announced that the term “Civil War” will no longer be used by either university because it “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.” With this announcement, the use of the phrase “Civil War” in descriptions of our archival collections was identified by the SCARC staff as a high priority to be addressed as part of our anti-racism work. We developed a plan to take action. 

Step 1: Provide Historical Context 

The first step in that work was to have a SCARC student archivist research and prepare a blog post about the history of the athletic rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon and the use of the phrase “Civil War”. The student conducted this research in spring term 2021 and the blog post was completed in early summer 2021.

Step 2: Acknowledge the Term

SCARC staff agreed that creation and implementation of a statement addressing the use of this term in our collection descriptions was a high priority action for FY 2022. In October and November 2021, we collaboratively prepared the following statement, following the template we had developed in spring and summer 2021 for statements in other finding aids. 

We acknowledge that materials in SCARC collections and the language that describes them may be harmful. We are actively working to address our descriptive practices; for more information please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement online.

The archivist-prepared description of this collection uses the phrase “Civil War” to refer to the long-standing athletic rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. A history of this athletic rivalry, and use of the phrase “Civil War” to describe it, is available online in The Origins of the “Civil War” Football Game blog post.

In June 2020, Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray announced that the term  “Civil War” will no longer be used by either university because it “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.”  

We acknowledge the racism represented by the use of this phrase and the harm it may cause our users. In order to provide historical context and to enable standardized searching and access across our collections, we have retained the use of this phrase in the collection description.  

[Date of acknowledgement: November 2021]

Step 3: Identify the Term within Collections 

In parallel with development of the statement, we identified which collection descriptions include the “Civil War” phrase in reference to the athletic rivalry. There were a total of 25 finding aids: 19 guides present both on the SCARC website and in Archives West and 6 guides available only on the SCARC website. In November 2021, the statement above was added to all of these guides.

We added a modified version of our statement to the top of the Athletics Digitized Videos page, and have also changed the section header that used to read “Civil War Football Games” to “Rivalry Games with the University of Oregon.” All of those games were called, for example, “Civil War Football Game, 1950,” and we’ve changed those to “UO vs. OSC, 1950,” etc. 

Step 4: Plan for Continued Action

We understand that our anti-racism work is continuous and on-going and is never fully completed. Therefore, we are committed to the following future steps:

  • This statement will be added to finding aids prepared in the future that include materials that use the phrase “Civil War” provided by creators or donors.
  • When a new phrase to refer to the athletic rivalry is identified by Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, the statement will be revised to include it. 
  • Once a new phrase to refer to the athletic rivalry is identified by Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, we will review descriptions of materials for archivist created metadata to address the use of the phrase. 

Serifs and Secrecy: The Smyth Report in SCARC

Contributed by Anne Bahde, Rare Books and History of Science Librarian

The Harris Collection of the Atomic Age awaiting processing

Though the pandemic has slowed progress on some projects in SCARC, staff have moved forward steadily on the work for cataloging, arranging, and describing our materials. In my case, I am working through the massive new acquisition of the Robert Dalton Harris, Jr. Collection of the Atomic Age in order to prepare it for various forms of description and access. 

This collection includes three major parts. The first to be opened for research will be the Collection of Atomic Age Ephemera. This wide-ranging collection presents a thorough view of the impact of the atomic age on modern culture and society, through thousands of pieces of printed ephemera in dozens of material types, including brochures, calendars, stamps, advertisements, pamphlets, posters, and more. The second part of the Harris Collection, the archival collections, will be processed over the coming years. Currently there are 25 separate collections identified, which include compelling manuscript materials from servicemen and servicewomen, participants of the Manhattan Project, power plant engineers, uranium miners, and many others. Finally, the third part of the Harris Collection is the book collection, which includes thousands of titles covering all aspects of the Atomic Age, and for which cataloging will be ongoing.

The broad range of the Harris Collection is part of why we considered this collection to be an excellent match to OSU’s strong existing collections on nuclear history. But, this overlap also means duplication of our existing collections will occur. When potential duplicate titles are encountered, items are examined against each other in a comparative process to ensure they are true duplicates. This exercise is a necessary step – shelf space is at a premium in our holding areas, and we must ensure it is used responsibly. Most potential duplicates end up being true duplicates, which are then discarded through our surplus property protocols, or by the conditions specified by the donor.

Cover of the Princeton edition

As I worked through the Harris Collection, there was one book which gave me a thrill each time I uncovered yet another duplicate copy. Whenever I spot this distinctive mustard yellow color, I become excited to meet another copy of this title. For this modest-looking volume can be considered a sort of Gutenberg Bible of the Atomic Age, in that it is the first printed document of a new era of humanity. Commonly known as the “Smyth Report” for its author, physicist Henry DeWolf Smyth, and released to the public just after the United States obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the first atomic bombs, A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes was the official government report detailing the work of the Manhattan Project. (Internet Archive).

Title page, Pauling copy 2

Smyth (pronounced with a long i sound as in ‘wife’) wrote this report knowing it would be a foundational text of the new atomic age. Though the bombs were built with science known before the war, it was not widely known whether, or how, this information could be applied to create a weapon. As Smyth reflected in 1976, “it was only a question of time” as to when the dots would be connected. When leaders of the Manhattan Project knew that the atomic bomb would be a viable weapon, they also knew that the general public would need a clear and concise explanation of this new destructive force as soon as it was unleashed. 

Preface, Pauling copy 2

Smyth hoped his readership would be professional scientists “who can understand such things and who can explain the potentialities of atomic bombs to their fellow citizens” (Preface). Though he did not expect the whole literate public to fully understand the scientific concepts, he did expect scientists in turn to understand, explain, and engage their fellow citizens with the “potentialities.” Smyth’s task was to report and explain new information to the entire world, but he also wanted them to think beyond the words on the page to understand the consequences of the information for every citizen of the world.

Smyth’s additional goal was to convey the administrative history of the Manhattan Project, showing how the atomic bombs came into existence. However, project leaders also required that certain information be kept hidden from the public. With General Leslie Groves’s close advisor, Richard C. Tolman, Smyth developed strict guidelines for managing and evaluating the information that would be reported in the document, ensuring that what needed to be secret would remain so in the final product.

Coleman’s checklist

The critical need for secrecy governed the report’s early duplication and distribution. When Smyth finished his penultimate draft in mid-July 1945, fifty copies were mimeographed in secret by project staff, then delivered by hand to selected Manhattan Project leaders under armed guard to review and return immediately. Much later, in 1976, Princeton Library Curator of Rare Books Earle E. Coleman worked with Smyth to painstakingly reconstruct the timing of various early printings and establish primacy in a detailed checklist. This first, closest-to-final version of the Smyth Report became known in Coleman’s checklist as the “mimeograph version” (Coleman 1). 

(Despite the fact that no copies of the “mimeograph version” are known to exist outside of Smyth’s personal papers, later owners, collectors, dealers, and describers of this title frequently use this term “mimeograph” with wild abandon to make their copies sound more primary than they actually are.)

After final corrections were made, one thousand copies were lithoprinted in heavily secured facilities at the Adjutant General’s Office in the Pentagon. These copies were stored in a safe at the Pentagon until August 9, after the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, when President Truman made the decision to release it to the public. These copies went to members of Congress, Manhattan Project leaders and scientists, the press, and other select individuals. This version became known as the “lithoprint version” in Coleman’s checklist (Coleman 3). 

Foreword, Pauling copy 2

Once the secret was out in print, the press could reproduce any and all of the information in the book without consequence, due to the unusually direct and encouraging copyright statement appearing on all printed versions: “Reproduction in whole or in part is authorized and permitted.” (However, this was tempered with a secrecy warning from General Leslie R. Groves in the Foreword: “Persons disclosing or securing additional information by any means whatsoever without authorization are subject to severe penalties under the Espionage Act.”) Smyth and Tolman’s secrecy guidelines meant that many details were missing intentionally; for example, how much fissile material was required to make a bomb and the rate at which the production plants could produce bombs.

From this point on, the report’s impact could be seen rippling out through public understanding as references to the “Smyth Report” began to appear in newspaper articles, editorials, and scientific resources in mid-August. After a scramble involving a wartime paper shortage, Princeton University Press printed and released 30,000 copies in the first trade edition (Coleman 4) on September 15, which sold out within two weeks. Another version of 10,000 copies was produced about the same time (“September 20 plus or minus five days”) by the Government Printing Office (Coleman 5).  

Pauling’s Puzzling Early Versions

With the multiple duplicates added from the Harris acquisition, SCARC now has 22 copies of this matchless text, in nearly every iteration, including two very early versions in the Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. It is unknown how Linus Pauling came into possession of these copies; he reports that he got them in “summer 1945,” but does not name the source(s). 

One copy, which Pauling designated “copy 2,” has been optimistically misidentified in the past as a “preliminary draft copy in mimeographed version.” However, this copy’s characteristics more closely match Coleman 2, the “ditto version.” As Coleman specifies, this copy is printed in “ditto purple” on single sheets, with a blue paper wrapper. 

Coleman also notes that two identifiable typewriters were used in the production of the ditto version: one with serifs on the numerals, and one without serifs on the numerals. (Serifs are edges or strokes attached to the main stroke of a letter within a typeface. In the case of the Smyth Report, the serifs in question can be most easily spotted on the numeral 9.) Pauling’s copy 2 has exactly the pattern of alternating typewriters that Coleman specifies. The typewriter without serif numerals typed the front matter, Chapters I-IX, XIII, and Appendices 1-5. The typewriter with serifs typed chapters X-XII. Coleman also specifies that in the ditto version, paragraph 12.50 is in the middle of the page. In Pauling’s copy, however, paragraph 12.50 falls at the top of a page. This copy, therefore, seems to have elements which do not follow Coleman’s description of the ditto version. 

Comparison of serifs on the numeral 9 in Pauling copy 2

The ditto version is also the most mysterious in terms of primacy. After interviewing those involved with producing the report, Coleman concludes, “It seems plausible…that after all the corrections had been recorded on the master copy of the mimeograph version (which had been sent to the project leaders and others), copies were made by ditto from the master copy for the final approval of General Groves and any others he might wish to review the text before lithoprinting.” 

Coleman concluded that the ditto version likely precedes the lithoprint version, meaning that Pauling’s copy 2 is rare indeed, if it is indeed the ditto version.

Once bound in a three-hole punched black report cover, Pauling’s other copy is even more intriguing, and also does not clearly match any of Coleman’s described versions. 

In the description for the lithoprint version (Coleman 3 and the only other early version described, besides the ditto and the unobtainable mimeograph version), Coleman notes again that the same two typewriters, one with serifs on the numerals and one without, were used in preparing the stencils for lithoprint version. He gives a careful collation of the seven copies of the lithoprint version he had examined. However, Pauling’s copy 1 is largely the opposite of this collation. (See this table for a detailed comparison). Pauling’s copy matches the Coleman 3 lithoprint description for only Chapters V, VIII, X-XI, XIII, Appendix 1, and Appendix 5, but is the reverse of what Coleman describes for all other chapters. When the title page in particular in this copy is examined closely, certain irregularities in the type can be spotted; for example, the capital M is somewhat malformed, as are several other capital letters, and overall the spacing and formation of the letters appear somewhat odd.

Comparison of serifs on the numeral 9 in Pauling copy 1

Further, Coleman makes no mention of the ink color of the lithoprint version, but assumedly that was because it was printed in standard black ink. This copy’s title page is printed in “ditto purple,” and continues in purple until page I-17, when it changes in the middle of the chapter to black. The ink is black until Chapter VIII when it turns again to purple for one chapter. Chapter IX is back to black which continues until the end. The black pages are printed on a heavier paper than those printed in purple and those in the ditto version, and different from the paper in the lithoprint version as well.

The difference in paper is notable between the two copies; Copy 1 is nearly double the thickness of Copy 2

Coleman and Smyth acknowledge that in the copies they consulted, missing and repeated pages indicate that “the gathering of leaves was done in haste under the pressure of tight security precautions.” Neither of Pauling’s copies have repeated or missing pages, but each clearly departs from Coleman’s carefully checked bibliographical details. To fully understand how Pauling’s mysterious copies fit into the Smyth Report timeline, a complete line-by-line collation of each copy, along with a detailed comparison of other similar early copies and a full provenance investigation, would be required. For now, this secret will stay waiting for future researchers to uncover.

Circulation log, Pauling copy 1

According to the check-out sheet attached inside the front cover, Pauling made this copy and the other available to staff in the Gates and Crellin Laboratories at Caltech beginning late September 1945. But he was strict about how long the report could be circulated, specifying that it “may be borrowed overnight. (Return next day.)” This log shows that both copies circulated for weeks among staff, well into the potential availability of the Princeton edition (suggesting perhaps that the limited Princeton first edition was more difficult to get on the West Coast). 

Pauling’s lab copies were so popular that his bold, underlined directions about circulation were clearly ignored. The difference in pencilled names in the far column suggest that copies were handed around between multiple staff during one checkout period. This fascinating log is a record of how even Caltech scientists were hungry for new information, and eager to understand the force that had just changed their world.  It is also a record of when certain individuals first saw the Smyth Report. William Lipscomb, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, was prompt in returning his loan. Crystallographer David Shoemaker accepted a handoff from J. Hendrickson but still turned the copy in on time. Jerry Donohue, who would go on to play a critical role in Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA, was also an early reader of this copy. 

How interesting It would have been to hear this group of chemists discuss their impressions of the Smyth Report. Many chemists and engineers, including those involved in the Manhattan Project felt their important work was wholly neglected in the physics-heavy explanations. As Rebecca Schwarz has argued, the report’s silence on the critical nature of chemistry and engineering to the Project would deepen existing rifts between these fields for years to come.

In addition to Pauling’s early copies, The History of Atomic Energy Collection contains a copy of the lithoprint version signed on the title page by Smyth, along with multiple copies of the first Princeton edition, later translations, and later editions. With the additions from the Harris Collection, these make a notable set. Many of the copies were signed or inscribed by their early owners. These owners often make a point to mark the date of their acquisition, which often falls within months of its first publication. Several bear witness that Smyth’s intended audience of professional scientists were doing their part to explain and disseminate the report to citizens. One Manhattan Project engineer, Spud Spiers, proudly explained his role in the flyleaf inscription given to Alex Allan. Another copy was gifted by Manhattan Project chemist Henry A. Keirstead to his future wife Anne E. Williams in September 1945, which she then annotated extensively. Atomic energy industries were already getting a boost from powerful supporters such as Arthur Pew of the wealthy Pew family, who inscribed a copy to “a real friend of an industry which will never be second.”

But why would SCARC keep so many copies of the same book? What research value can there be, when these are just the same words in different packages? Though they may appear the same at first glance, differences and unique traits abound among these items, making them rich ground for teaching and learning. Because we have so many examples, they can be used to sharpen students’ close observation skills, or to explore now-unfamiliar methods for print and near-print production in this era such as mimeograph, ditto and lithoprinting. When paired with contemporary documents from physical and digital collections such as book reviews and newspaper articles, the Smyth Report offers important lessons in contextualization and critical source evaluation techniques. 

Our group of reports can also be used to teach provenance research and the movement of information through different channels. Nearly all the items have evidence of former owners, in the form of gift inscriptions, signatures, or other elements, which means they invite further biographical research. Answering questions such as “who read this book?” and “how did readers interact with this book?” can help us understand its importance to and influence upon various audiences, as well as the flow of vital new scientific information. 

Finally, because our editions are treated both archivally and as cataloged books in our collections, they present a lesson in discovery by demonstrating that the same source might appear in both the library catalog and archival finding aids, and in how to search in both environments. Within these catalog records and finding aids, there are numerous variations in historical description practices and levels of accuracy, which can teach powerful lessons on the challenges of archival search and discovery as well as the role of archivists as mediators in description and access.

Over the coming months we anticipate final release of the Robert Dalton Harris, Jr. Collection of Atomic Age Ephemera, paired with ongoing cataloging for the book collection and description of the archival collections. In future posts, we will explore some fascinating intersections of the Harris Collection with existing SCARC nuclear history collections, as well as their potential applications to research, teaching, and learning.

Bibliography/Further Reading

Smyth, H.D. “The ‘Smyth Report.’” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 37, no. 3 (1976): 173–89. https://doi.org/10.2307/26404011.

Smyth, H.D. “Publication of the Smyth Report.” International Atomic Energy Agency Bulletin 4 (1962): 28-30.

Coleman, Earle E. “The ‘Smyth Report’: A Descriptive Check List.” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 37, no. 3 (1976): 201–18. https://doi.org/10.2307/26404013.

Smith, Datus C. “The Publishing History of the ‘Smyth Report.’” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 37, no. 3 (1976): 190–200. https://doi.org/10.2307/26404012.

Carter, John and Percy Muir. “The Atom Bomb.” Printing and the Mind of Man. Munchen: Karl Pressler, 1983.

Wellerstein, Alex. Restricted Data : the History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2021.

Schwartz, Rebecca Press. The Making of the History of the Atomic Bomb: Henry DeWolf Smyth and the Historiography of the Manhattan Project. Dissertation, Princeton University, 2008.

Interview with Linus Pauling about his copies

Voices of the Manhattan Project: Henry DeWolf Smyth

Hidden Gems in the OSU Barometer

In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the fourth in the series.


The Barometer is an amazing resource for learning about Oregon State through the years…and also other news like:

  • An opinion headline in January 27, 1995: “Internet Surfing, Home Computer Craze: Is It Worth It?”
  • News from the summer of 1969: major protests, arrests, and convictions of protestors related to the denial of promotion to English instructor Frank Harper and subsequent dismissal of same. Also, continued protest against closing women’s dorms at night.
  • More fun: November 6, 1969 Barometer was printed with blank pages except ads in protest of ASOSU senate effort to review editorial board to potentially change editorial staff. The bill passed but was vetoed by ASOSU president.
  • In Fall 1968 MU board of directors exclude military recruiting inside MU.
  • November 7, 1928: It is official, Corvallis voters have lifted the ban on Sunday movies by a 2 to 1 margin. Also, Hoover wins in a landslide!
  • It was reported in the Barometer May 19, 1981 that the investigation into a graduate student that disappeared off a research vessel off the coast of Hawaii ended after 18 months, concluding the student was alive and well, though whereabouts unknown. He seems to have not wanted to go home.
  • Cases of measles on campus in April, 1973. Yikes!
  • April 19, 1996, the Barometer included a story from the Associated Press titled, “Expert says police in need of ethics training.” Whelp…
  • November 15, 1990: It was reported that a 6 year old boy in France shot his mom in the stomach with a rifle after she refused him a Coca-Cola. And that’s the way it is.

Check out more from the digitized collection!


Kevin Jones is SCARC’s metadata and digitization specialist extraordinaire.  SCARC would be lost without him! He likes to play all kinds of games, run, and play ultimate Frisbee.

The After 8 Pins

In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the third in the series.


The After 8 pins are part of the After 8 Records, a collection that documents the political activism and community outreach work of the After 8 organization, an group which operated in Benton County from 1989 to 2002, but was primarily active during the 1990s.

“After 8” is in reference to and a response to Ballot Measure 8. In November of 1988, Ballot Measure 8 passed in the state of Oregon, effectively rescinding Governor Goldschmidt’s 1987 Executive Order 87-20 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the executive branch of the state government. In addition to the dismantling of this previous protection, Ballot Measure 8 introduced a new law allowing state officials to take the sexual orientation into account in making personnel decisions, and preventing them from acting on reports of such discrimination. Thus, the ballot measure effectively made it legal to discriminate at all levels of state government on the basis of sexual orientation, then defined as homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual.

In response to Ballot Measure 8, a group of women in Benton County met in the week following its passage to discuss the potential for mobilization within the local gay and lesbian community. By December of that same year, a group of lesbian and gay community members and their allies were meeting bi-weekly, and in January of 1989, the group was given a name—”After 8″. Their mission became “To create conditions which ensure that all persons are protected from any discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Throughout the group’s lifetime, After 8 sought to achieve this mission through education and advocacy—working with members of the community, engaging in political activity, networking with individuals, organizations, businesses, and institutions, and effectively making themselves visible as active participants of the local community. After 8 operated in Benton County from 1989-2002.

Pins are an easily visible, portable, and effective form of community activism, and the After 8 pins are both fun and informative. Some of the pins such as “Stop the OCA” reference the Oregon Citizens Alliance, a conservative Christian political organization that proposed the anti-LGBTQ+ rights Measure 9; some pins like “Straight but not narrow, vote no on 9” show the allyship from non-LGBTQ+ community members; and some pins like “leather lesbo” are timeless. 

In addition to their historic value for researchers to incorporate in their scholarship, the After 8 pins are always a hit when used as part of SCARC instruction sessions and they make for great exhibit pieces.  


Natalia Fernandez is currently serving as SCARC’s Interim Director. In her permanent role, she is the curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives, OSU Queer Archives, and OSU DisAbility Archives; she also serves as the Supervisor of the OSULP Diversity Scholars Program.  She has been with OSU for over 10 years and her office is located in the 3rd floor archives workroom.

The Origins of the “Civil War” Football Game

The Serpentine | Oregon Digital

On a crisp autumn morning on November 3, 1894, the Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) Coyotes hosted the University of Oregon Lemon-Yellows for the inaugural football game between the two schools. The game was played on a field east of Community Hall (formerly the Administration Building), just north of present-day Callahan Hall. The game wasn’t much more than a scrimmage, and it didn’t draw any spectators. OAC had the edge, having established their football program the season prior, and they won the game handily, 16-0. For the next few years, the schools met in similarly low-stakes contests with little fanfare, or fans. There weren’t many in the Pacific Northwest who knew much about this new sport, often called gridiron football due to the field’s resemblance to a gridiron. Subsequently, coaches often moonlighted as officials, teams played with fewer players, and the general sentiment in Oregon was that it was a long, boring, and clumsy game. From the very beginning, the Coyotes and the Lemon-Yellows took turns hosting the game in either Eugene or Corvallis, sometimes playing twice in one year, once in each town.

What set the stage for the first game in what would become a nearly 100-year long tradition, came eighteen years prior, in 1873. The Massasoit Conventions – meetings of student leaders from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia – standardized the rules of American Football. These four schools were early pioneers of the sport and, along with Rutgers and Tufts, adapted American Football from British sports like rugby and soccer. Though the way the sport was played would see many changes in the years following the Conventions, these meetings marked the beginning of the expansion of organized college football. News of the meetings, and the finalized set of rules, was picked up by newspapers and publications across the nation, and the game’s popularity boomed. As more schools established their own programs, the rules were further refined. With its roots as a “mob game,” where the goal was simply to get the ball across the goal line by any means possible, in the early days of football a game could see as many as 25 players on the field for one team. By the time the Coyotes and the Lemon-Yellows first faced off in 1894, the number of players had been whittled down to the modern-day limit of 11 per team. In fact, by 1912, the game looked remarkably like it does today. The field had been scaled to its present-day dimensions: 120 yards by 53 1/3 yards. The most noteworthy differences between football of the 1900s and today are the scoring conventions. Unlike today, where the main scoring mechanism is a six-point touchdown, at the turn of the 20th century it was a five-point field goal. In 1894, touchdowns were worth four points, and conversions – a successful kick between rugby uprights – were an additional two points. Just four years later, in 1898, the scoring system was further revised, with touchdowns worth five points, field goals worth four points, and conversions scaled back to a single point.

After the two teams had a few seasons under their belts, the contest between OAC and the University of Oregon began to amass a dedicated, and sometimes rowdy, following. In 1908, the Aggies and the Webfoots faced off for the very first time in Multnomah Stadium [now Providence Park] in Portland, drawing a sellout crowd of 15,000, and completely shattering their previous record of just under 3,500 spectators. Oregon won that game, 8-0, with two field goals. The rivalry had gained traction in the state, but with that traction came conflict. Fights often broke out on train platforms after games, and just two years after the sellout in Portland, some “rowdy hat-grabbing behavior” prompted the OAC student body to unanimously vote to sever ties with Oregon athletics. Two years later, in 1912, the schools negotiated a truce, and agreed to play on Hudson Field in Albany, neutral territory. They continued to play in Albany until 1914, returning to alternating fields between Corvallis and Eugene.

Lemon squeezer for University of Oregon | Oregon Digital

The rivalry continued to grow, both in popularity and in contention, between the two schools. Due to the increasing attention garnered by the rivalry, each team’s gridirons were upgraded in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1910, OAC constructed Bell Field, on the very same spot where present-day Dixon Recreation Center now stands. Oregon built Hayward Field in 1919; in 1967, with the construction of Autzen Stadium, Hayward became Oregon’s dedicated track and field stadium. Tensions surrounding the rivalry continued to run high, and often reached a boiling point; fights were not uncommon, as were kidnappings of mascots and homecoming courts. The conflict surrounding the contest prompted Oregon head coach John McEwan (1926-1929) to refer to it as “the great Civil War.” The nickname slowly caught on in subsequent years, and by the late 1930s the rivalry was exclusively referred to as the Civil War (the 1938 Beaver yearbook was the first OSU student publication to use the moniker). This carried over almost immediately to contests in other sports played by the two teams. Whether it be football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport, fans referred to any head-to-head match between the schools as the Civil War game of that particular sport.

The football Civil War game was frequently played at Portland’s Multnomah Stadium during the 1930s, with games alternating annually between Hayward Field, Bell Field, and Multnomah Stadium. In 1943 and 1944, no football season was played by either team, as they simply couldn’t field enough players due to World War II. Between 1952 and 1953, Oregon State College built Parker Stadium (renamed Reser in 1999),  and the University of Oregon built Autzen Stadium. Having built new stadiums, and considering the age and general neglect of Multnomah Stadium, a more permanent location rotation was put into place for the Civil War, with the game alternating annually between Corvallis and Eugene. 

OSC vs. Oregon at Parker Stadium, 1954 | Oregon Digital

The game continued to grow in popularity into the 1960s, with tens of thousands of spectators regularly in attendance. The rivalry remained as heated as ever, and though there may have fewer physical altercations, the contest itself resulted in some truly memorable, and historic, games. Who could forget the humiliatingly named Toilet Bowl of 1983, a game plagued by turnovers and missed field goals, one in which the Beavers and Ducks fought their way to a nothing-nothing tie (the last scoreless tie in college football history)?  Or the 1998, double-overtime OSU victory, which Beaver fans celebrated by tearing up the artificial turf? Most recently, in the midst of a pandemic and in a stadium empty of fans, the Beavers squeaked out a three-point victory over the 15th ranked Ducks, the first time they’d beat a ranked opponent since 2014. As of 2020, the Civil War had been played 125 times, putting the rivalry in the top ten of the most-played college football series.

The history of the OSU-UO Civil War mirrors that of many other rivalries across the nation, in particular the other schools in the PAC-12 conference. All these schools have a similar rivalry, each with a name representative of their locale or history. The University of Washington plays Washington State University in the Apple Cup; Stanford University plays the University of California-Berkeley each year in the Big Game; the University of Southern California plays the University of California-Los Angeles in the Crosstown Cup; the University of Arizona plays Arizona State in the Territorial Cup; and the University of Colorado plays the University of Utah in their alliteratively-titled rivalry game, the Rumble in the Rockies. Each year, all these schools face off on the same weekend in November, fondly referred to as Rivalry Week. 

In 2020, after over 100 years, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University jointly announced they would no longer refer to the annual rivalry game as the “Civil War.” Amid protests surrounding racial injustice, and the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the two schools decided the name was insensitive, as it referenced “a war fought to perpetuate slavery.” In a statement on the decision to repeal the title, OSU President Ed Ray commented that “while not intended as reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competitions should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history.” The announcement was met with mixed reactions, with many claiming the moniker “never made sense” in the first place, and others asserting the change was “needless virtue signaling.” A new name has yet to be announced. 

Though the name will change, the rivalry and its physical expression will persist, as it has through six scoreless ties and two World Wars. The changing of the name moves OSU one tiny step closer to becoming a more welcoming and inclusive community, and comes with the opportunity to fashion a new name, one which will embody the true character of the rivalry and its schools. It could be called something elegant and historical, like the Oregon Classic. Perhaps it should hearken back to the little-known platypus trophy, given to the winner of the contest in the 1950s and 1960s – a trophy stolen so many times it was eventually locked in a closet at McArthur Court on the University of Oregon’s campus. Given the schools’ mascots, the Platypus Cup does seem entirely appropriate. Regardless of what it is called, there is no doubt, with its long and storied history, the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry will live on.


Works Consulted

  1. “1983 Oregon State vs. Oregon Football Game.” Wikipedia, 17 Jan. 2021. Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=1983_Oregon_State_vs._Oregon_football_game&oldid=1000872423.
  2. Adelson, Andrea. “Oregon, Oregon State Drop ‘Civil War’ Moniker.” ESPN.Com, 26 June 2020, https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/29370252/oregon-oregon-state-dropping-civil-war-name-rivalry-games.
  3. Canzano, John. “Canzano: 121 Things You Don’t Know about the Civil War Game.” Oregon Live, 22 Nov. 2017, https://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/2017/11/canzano_121_cool_things_you_do.html.
  4. Caputo, Paul. “Getting Our Webfeet in a Row: The Story Behind the Oregon Ducks.” SportsLogos.Net News, 27 Sept. 2014, https://news.sportslogos.net/2014/09/27/getting-our-webfeet-in-a-row-the-story-behind-the-oregon-ducks/college/.
  5. Carlson, Kip. Oregon State Football. Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
  6. “Chronological History of Oregon State University – 1950 to 1959.” OSU Libraries University Archives, 26 Sept. 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20120926004224/http:/archives.library.oregonstate.edu/chronology/chron_1950.html.
  7. Edmunston, George. Up Close and Personal: Greatest Civil War Gameshttps://osughost.imodules.com/s/resources/templates/login/index.aspx?sid=359&gid=1&pgid=454. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  8. Etheridge, Steve. “The Original Rules of College Football.” ESPN.Com, 15 Aug. 2019, https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/27356104/the-original-rules-college-football.
  9. “Gameday Traditions.” Oregon State University Athleticshttps://osubeavers.com/sports/2013/7/9/208626262.aspx. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  10. History of Football – Football History | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Sitehttps://www.profootballhof.com/football-history/history-of-football/. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  11. Marwit, Dan. “Walter Camp: The Man Who Gave You Football.” The New York Public Library, February 3 20016, https://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/02/03/walter-camp-father-football.
  12. “Oregon–Oregon State Football Rivalry.” Wikipedia, 10 July 2021. Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oregon%E2%80%93Oregon_State_football_rivalry&oldid=1032987468.
  13. Oriad, Michael. “Gridiron Football | Definition, History, Leagues, Rules, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannicahttps://www.britannica.com/sports/gridiron-football. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  14. Prince, Seth. “Civil War: The Complete Game-by-Game History.” Oregon Live, 23 Nov. 2008, https://www.oregonlive.com/behindbeaversbeat/2008/11/civil_war_the_complete_gamebyg.html.
  15. Rodman, Bob. “It’s Reser Stadium Now, OSU Fans.” Eugene Register-Guard, 15 June 1999, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-1ZWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=o-sDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6205%2C3959757.
  16. The Beaver 1938 | Oregon State University Yearbooks | Oregon Digitalhttps://oregondigital.org/sets/osu-yearbooks/oregondigital:3t945r17t#page/1/mode/1up. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  17. University of Oregon. “Hayward Field.” University of Oregon Athletics, 5 Aug. 2003,https://goducks.com/news/2003/8/5/22187.aspx.
  18. Where’s Waldo? Exploring Waldo Hall History – Special Collections & Archives Research Centerhttp://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/waldo/wartime/wwii. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  19. Ylen, Mark. “A Civil War History Lesson.” Albany Democrat Herald, 17 Nov. 2012, https://democratherald.com/news/local/a-civil-war-history-lesson/article_ddf67730-3088-11e2-aa43-0019bb2963f4.html.

Sydney Klupar graduated from Oregon State University with an Honors Bachelor of Science in environmental economics and policy in June 2021. She has worked at SCARC since September 2018, helping with a myriad of projects including transcription, processing, and description of archival collections. During her time at OSU, Klupar participated in many clubs, including the Spirit and Sound of OSU, the Oregon State University Marching Band. She is moving on to Lewis and Clark Law School and will graduate with a J.D. and L.L.M. in environmental, natural resource, and energy law in 2024.

Betty Lynd Thompson’s Danceramics

In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the second in the series.


When I first learned of Professor Betty Lynd Thompson and saw photographs of the enigmatic and graceful modern dance movements that were part of her instruction from the 1930s through the 1950s, it was truly an enchanting moment. One of the joys of being an archivist for me is the chance to discover different worlds of knowledge and art through the lens of preserving OSU history. If seeing those images was fun and inspiring, receiving examples of Thompson’s “danceramics” to add to the Betty Lynd Thompson Papers took that sense of enchantment to a whole another level!  

Thompson taught modern dance in the Physical Education Department from 1927 until 1972. During a sabbatical leave in New York City in the 1930s where she studied with modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, Thompson also developed an interest in clay sculpture. In a wonderful fusion of interests, Thompson started to form clay figures engaged in modern dance moves. She called this new art form “danceramics.”   

This image documents the amazing range of danceramic figures that Thompson sculpted. The example that Thompson is holding in this view was produced in multiple quantities and given as awards to outstanding student members of the Orchesis National Honorary Society.

This actual example of one of Professor Thompson’s sculptures was awarded to alumna Phyllis Brown in 1950. It was donated to the Special Collections and Archives in 2017 by the OSU Alumni Association and is now described as part of the Betty Lynd Thompson Papers.    

As someone who has dabbled in clay craft for a number of years, these sculptures speak to me on many different levels. Aware of how tricky handbuilding sculptures in clay can be, I recognize Thompson’s skill in creating these figurines while at the same time admire that she formed a wonderfully creative way to document her legacy of instruction and dance to the university!   


Karl McCreary is a Collections Archivist, and has the opportunity to review, transfer, and describe many of the incoming additions to the collections.  His particular specialty within SCARC is working with materials documenting the OSU community and the myriad facets of it’s world-alumni, faculty, departments, clubs, and associated organizations. The variety of subject matter is bewildering!

Maud Wilson and the Peanut

In celebration of Oregon Archives Month, SCARC staff have pulled together a few of their favorite things in our collections. This is the first in the series.


I love Maud Wilson. I sense in her a kindred spirit – the spirit of the Virgo. 

Maud Mathes Wilson was born in Pike County Illinois on July 6, 1882. In 1913, she graduated from the University of Nebraska, and subsequently spent the next five years there, working as a Professor and Extension Agent. In 1925, having received funding from the U.S. Office of Experiment Stations to conduct a study concerning itself with the “character of the job of the homemaker,” she joined the staff of the Oregon Agricultural College. More specifically, Wilson’s “time study” sought to “show in what respects and to what degree homemaking is affected by certain circumstances under which it is done, such as the location of the home, the occupation of the chief income earner, the number and the ages of children and the equipment of the house.” Wilson was the first faculty member at OAC to conduct research full-time in home economics; specializing in the study of housing design, she also served as head of Home Economics for the Agricultural Experiment Station. 

Between 1940 and 1944, she worked with the Oregon Experiment Station’s Department of Agricultural Engineering to develop architectural plans for homes suited to the conditions specific to rural Oregon, using space standards determined in previous studies. This work helped to establish nationwide housing construction standards for essentials such as kitchen cabinets and appliances. 

Wilson retired from OSU as Professor Emeritus of Home Economics Research on June 30, 1950. In 1951 she spent five months in Japan, where she helped the Japanese Agricultural Improvement Bureau with plans for setting up a department of Home Economics Research. Maud Wilson died October 31, 1972 in Portland, Oregon.

Like so many of the papers of home economists in SCARC’s holdings, Wilson’s papers unequivocally illustrate the scientific nature of Home Economics as a discipline. Consequently, I felt hard pressed to pick any single favorite thing from Maud’s papers. I was sorely tempted by several of the “Station Bulletins” she published as part of her work for the Experiment Station: Planning Kitchen Cabinets and Patterns for Kitchen Cabinets, to name just a few. Both are representative of the decades of work and research Wilson invested in rural home design efficiencies and standards. That being said, deep down I know my favorite item in Wilson’s collection is…The Peanut. Featured in an article entitled, “This is the House that Not Much Jack Built,” from the January 1949 issue of The American Home, the Peanut was the Tiny Home of the 1950s. Designed by California architect Albert Henry Hill, the Peanut cost just $4,100 to build ($46,804.77 today), and came in at just under 500 square feet (485, to be exact). With its floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room / bedroom, and wood paneling throughout, it’s both a Mid-century Modern Fanatic’s paradise, and a Tiny Home Dreamer’s, well, dream.


Rachel Lilley is the Public Services Unit Supervisor (PSUS) for SCARC, and has been a member of the department – and the OSU community – since 2017 (and is a proud OSU alumna!). In her role as the PSUS, she manages SCARC’s Reading Room on the 5th floor of the Valley Library, supervises student employees, and assists with research requests, both in-person and remote. She loves long walks on the beach unironically.

New and Updated Finding Aids in July, August, and September 2021

SCARC completed 6 new or updated finding aids from July-September 2021. 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, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”).   


Five guides are enhanced finding aids for collections that were previously under-described:

Harold W. and Charles H. Johnson Collection, 1923-1982 (MSS JohnsonHC)

The Harold W. and Charles H. Johnson Collection consists of materials documenting the student experiences and careers of father-and-son Oregon State alumni Harold William Johnson and Charles Harold “Woody” Johnson. Harold Johnson graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1923 and studied Industrial Arts. His son Charles completed two degrees from Oregon State College in Engineering (1957) and Business (1958).

Lillian Jeffreys Petri Collection, 1924-1927 (MSS Petri)

The Lillian Jeffreys Petri Collection consists of piano instruction and technique publications, Mind Over Muscle and Music Fundamentals Correlated, written by Petri.  Lillian Jeffreys Petri was a faculty member in music at Oregon State College from 1924 to 1947.

Virginia Esther Simmons Sewing Book, 1896 (MSS Simmons)

The Virgina Esther Simmons Sewing Book was assembled by alumna Virginia Esther Simmons as an assignment for a home economics class. Simmons graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1896.

Donald Snyder Scrapbook, 1929-1941 (MSS Snyder)

The Donald Snyder Scrapbook was assembled by alumnus Donald E. Snyder and documents his student experience at Oregon State College. In addition to event programs and dance cards, the scrapbook contains greeting cards, ticket stubs, grade reports, newspaper clippings, photographs, watercolor drawings, and decals. Snyder graduated in 1938 with a degree in engineering.

Mark V. Weatherford Papers, 1851-1951 (MSS WeatherfordMV)

The Mark V. Weatherford Papers consists primarily of reproductions of documents created in 1851-1856 pertaining to interactions between Native Americans and the U.S. Army, local militias, and volunteers in the Rogue River Valley region of southern Oregon.   Mark V. Weatherford graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1907 and was an attorney in Albany, Oregon, from the 1910s through 1950s.

One guide is for a new collection received in 2015 that is now fully processed and described:

Oregon Brewers Guild Records, 1988-2015 (MSS OBG)

The Oregon Brewers Guild Records offer a look into the early, formative years of one of the nation’s oldest craft brewer associations, as well as their work in more recent tyears.

The Oregon Brewers Guild was founded in 1992 and is a non-profit trade, marketing, and lobbying association that represents the Oregon craft brewing industry. It’s mission is to protect the brewing industry of the state and the interests of Guild members through education, advocacy, and events.

Welcome to Oregon Archives Month!

For Oregon Archives Month, OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center has shared history in many different ways and this year is no exception!

OSU Library History Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt!

Visit the OSU Valley Library for a self-guided exploration of the past lives of this dynamic building and collect random stickers too! Historic images of the Library will be posted as a part of “Finder Fridays” in October. There will be clues with these images as to their current location (which in most cases look very different today!). At these spots, there will be envelope “sticker stations.” Take a sticker or two as a reward for being a history sleuth and share your adventure! Share with selfies of your adventure or places you’ve seen change on campus with us on Instagram

Our Favorite Things: SCARC Archivists Spotlight our Collection Highlights!

This will be both an online exhibit through blogposts and an onsite exhibit in our mini display case outside our Reading Room in the Valley Library.  

Find out what particular items in the SCARC collections get us really excited as we describe our “faves” in a series of posts on our “Speaking of History” blog (that’s right here!). Each week in October, we’ll feature a post from a different archivist in SCARC writing  about something they really like and why. There will also be an onsite exhibit about these “faves” on the 5th floor of the Valley Library.  

We’re Celebrating 10 years as SCARC!

Did you know SCARC used to be two separate departments? Did you know that SCARC was established ten years ago? Did you know we have a veritable treasure trove of old photos to share with you?

Check us out on Instagram every Wednesday when we share a photo from our past!

A History of the Future

Contributed by Anne Bahde, Rare Books and History of Science Librarian

The start of a new academic year always carries such hopeful anticipation about the future. This is the annual moment designated to define our best academic selves, to pin due dates on the calendar, to imagine the possible achievements of the new year. In September, we collectively make the effort to throw off the limitations of the past, heave our hopes into the future, and breathe in the freshness of new potential.

Though it may seem incongruous, rare book librarians think a lot about the future. Navigating the inherent conflicts between our dual goals – preserving materials and making them accessible – takes forethought and strategy. Lately, my thoughts as a rare book librarian and archivist have been swirling with uncertainties around the future of research, academic libraries, and unique materials. How does the concept of rarity change as academic libraries continue to discard physical collections? What will special collections reading rooms look like in a year, in three years, in twenty years? How will researcher demand for special collections and archives change as we find our way in a new research reality over the next few years? How will the advancing climate disaster challenge our missions, and will we be able to adapt? With others in my profession, I am anxiously scanning the horizon for what might be coming.

Before the pandemic when we were onsite, I would take a walk in the rare book stacks when my mind started spinning with thoughts like these. I would pull something interesting off the shelf to help me interact with the past and put things in perspective. Though we are now transitioning back to more onsite work, for the past 20 months I haven’t been able to handle any of the books in our collections for more than a few minutes at a time. There is one book I have missed more than others, and I am looking forward to seeing it again.

Fasciculus Tempo[rum]… Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 1480.

Published by Erhard Ratdolt in Venice in 1480, the Fasciculus temporum (rough translation: ‘little bundles of time’) is an illustrated timeline of historical events from biblical creation up to the year of publication. (A digitized copy of the 1481 edition can be found via Google Books here.) German Carthusian monk Werner Rolevinck compiled the first edition in 1474 from a variety of sources. His text quickly became a bestseller due to both its practical features and its engaging content, and was republished dozens of times as a popular title promising easy profit to the printers in the burgeoning European marketplace for books.

The 1480 Ratdolt edition, his first of five over the next few years, begins with an index of events sorted alphabetically by first name or title of event. In our copy, a past reader has helpfully highlighted these first letters in an earthy yellow color for easy reference. This orderly presentation moves past the solid block of an introductory page (supplied in facsimile in our copy), but quickly turns to a typographical riot of of lines, circles, text, and illustration, all mixing together to represent the notable events, people, and relationships throughout history. Ratdolt based his layout on previous manuscript and printed versions of the Fasciculus temporum, but his lively, challenging pages have a special movement in them. The reader is pulled into the flow of time and bobs from event to event in the rivers of information.

In the first part of the book, the two timelines settle into parallel tracks. The upper timeline dates the years since creation (year 1), while the lower timeline, which Ratdolt has printed upside down and in reverse chronology, counts backwards to the year of Christ’s birth, after which it resets to year 1 and turns right side up. This layout, supplemented throughout with rough woodcuts depicting cities and events, is as eye-catching and engaging now as it was meant to be in 1480.

The parallel timeline, with the bottom printed upside down and in reverse chronology

During this infancy period of the new art of printing, printers signed their work in a statement at the end of the text called the colophon. A (very) rough translation of the colophon in the Fasciculus temporum would be: “Here ends the chronicle, which is to say, a bundle of time, so issued by a certain Carthusian. Now the second edition amended with some additions to this our time. Printed in Venice at the interest and expense of Erhard Ratdolt from Augsburg in the Year of our Lord 1480 on the 24th of the month of November and Doge Giovanni Mocenico, builder of the city. Praise be to God.”

The colophon

When he printed this book, Ratdolt was at the height of his creativity as a printer. He had been born at the right moment in time to be a teenager when Gutenberg introduced his printing press to Europe. Ratdolt grew into adulthood while witnessing the birth of the printed word, and in a sense he guided and shaped the new form as it evolved from that birth. He was the first printer to figure out how to print in three colors on the same page (in order to represent the phases of an eclipse); and the first to print in gold ink. He was the first to represent constellations in print. He was the first to date books in Arabic rather than Roman numerals. He created the first printer’s type specimen as a needed tool for his busy printing business. He invented my own favorite paratext, the woodcut initial. He also gets the credit for designing the first title page resembling our modern format. (Though dated, Redgrave’s article still has the most entertaining and thorough exploration of Ratdolt’s accomplishments.)

Ratdolt was also the first to figure out how to represent geometric diagrams, in his triumphant 1482 edition of Euclid’s Elementa (HathiTrust copy, OSU restricted). I have had the privilege of handling many beautiful rare books in my career, but the thrilling experience of handling the copy of his Euclid at a previous institution (San Diego State University) is among the most memorable. Quarter bound in black and green cloth, its front binding joint was very tender and it always had to be opened with care. But after that initial physical hesitation, the reader was instantly drawn into the geometric genius of the work. Page after page of labeled figures are set into and around the explanatory text, a printing invention that would change how the world learned geometry from then on. Margins meant nothing to Ratdolt, and he used the page space to the purpose he needed without the constraints of conformity. His Euclid, and indeed all his other creations, are delights of text and other page elements interacting in spirited, stimulating ways.

Ratdolt continued his contributions over a long and illustrious career. One biographer, Moritz Cantor, reports that Ratdolt “continued his business with undiminished distinction to an old age.” He died in 1528, so he even got to see his earlier work reinvented to its maximum when his new title page format finally solidified in the early 16th century (and he probably had a hand in that somewhere too). Despite this decorated career and notable impact, Ratdolt has a sadly puny Wikipedia entry. A biographical site linked there is rife with link rot. (What would this print innovator make of link rot?)

The second ever depiction of Venice in print

When this book was published, the familiar forms of the book that we know today were still being shaped, and that freedom from tradition is palpable on the pages. Ratdolt couldn’t know what the future of publishing would look like, but he had some ideas and ran with them, and ended up changing the way humans learned and read, now still up to our own time. His boldness, confidence, creativity, and unfettered vision still leap from his pages and inspire the reader, nearly 550 years after he had those ideas.

My favorite part of this book, though, is not among the printed pages. Our copy, in an early binding, has many indications of past reader interactions – marginalia, manicules, and other notes are scattered throughout. A musical staff is sketched next to the entry for that invention as a handy reference. One artistic early reader even added pen flourishes and decorative lines to enhance features throughout the book.

Perhaps it was the same past owner who gave this artifact its lasting power. Bound in after the very last page of the printed text are new, clean pages, neatly lined in a parallel timeline imitating Ratdolt’s design, waiting to be filled in so the reader could faithfully track events yet to happen. 

These empty pages take my breath away and make my heart skip a beat, every time. Most times, my eyes tear up too. The manuscript timeline, lined in a confident hand and stretching on for a dozen pages, conveys so much readiness and anticipation. These blank lines are hope itself to me, propelled forward by the imagination of what might come next.

Living at the end of the Anthropocene, through a human time defined by uncertainty and rapid change, it is easy to get lost in prophecy or dwell on what could have been. At this moment, we are disoriented and distracted. In every other Zoom meeting, someone mutters, “time has no meaning,” as they try to remember when something did or is scheduled to happen in this blurry era.

Artifacts from the past such as this one help me live in hope, anchor me in possibility, and focus my energy on creating the future. As we begin the new year, SCARC will be back in our 5th floor reading room welcoming researchers by appointment only. If, like me, you need to feel a spark of hope and fresh anticipation, I urge you make an appointment to see this book, and to wonder: what will you be first at? What event will you number your years from? How will you manifest your talents to improve the world? What will you look back on with satisfaction in your later years? How will you live outside the margins? What are your additions to this our time, and how will you make them last? What future will you create?

Best wishes for a safe and inspiring Fall 2021.

October is Oregon Archives Month, and we will be featuring other SCARC staff favorites from our collections here on Speaking of History.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Redgrave, G. R.  Erhard Ratdolt and His Work at Venice : a Paper Read before the Bibliographical Society, November 20, 1893. England: The Society, April 1894-September 1895, 1895.

Bowers, Diana. “The Physical Text is History”: Erhard Ratdolt’s Editions of Werner Rolewinck’s Fasciculus Temporum,” History of Art & Design Theses, Pratt Institute, 2015, accessed September 1, 2021, http://hadthesis.pratt.edu/items/show/62.

Bühler, Curt F. “Erhard Ratdolt’s Vanity.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 49 (1955): 186–88.

Bühler, Curt F. “The Laying of a Ghost? Observations on the 1483 Ratdolt Edition of the “Fasciculus Temporum”.” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951): 155–59.

Josephson, Askel G.S. “Fifteenth-Century Editions of Fasciculus temporum in American Libraries.” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 11 (January 1, 1917): 61-65.

Cantor, Moritz. Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Mathematik v.2: 265-68.  Translated by Richard Froese. Cited by JF Ptak, “The Color Blind Geometer and the Color-Coded Euclid,” https://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2008/10/the-color-blind.html.

Jeremy Norman’s ever-fascinating History of Information blog has many entries on Ratdolt’s work: https://www.historyofinformation.com/index.php?str=ratdolt