Monthly Archives: October 2009

Ruth Nomura

Thanks “vintagepix”!

This beautiful & beguiling photo has graced the cover of our Oregon Multicultural Archives brochure, but when I tried to research Ruth Nomura for our International Womens Day set for Flickr Commons, I couldn’t find a thing … We knew the picture had been taken by an OSU photographer, John Garman, but basically we knew nothing about the context.

Who was she? Why did Garman take her photo? Was she a student? Where was the photo taken?

And so it remained one of those clichéd mysteries… Until “vintagepix” asked this question: “Any chance the name might be Nomura?” It was a great afternoon in the Archives, with staff scurrying around and clapping, pulling yearbooks off the shelves, retrieving student academic records, and really just smiling.

Because we were able to find her in the yearbooks, combined with the leads of “vintagepix,” we’ve pieced this little bit of her life together. She was born in 1907 in Portland, and was one of the first Japanese Americans born in Oregon. She graduated from Jefferson High School in 1924. According to the Japanese American Citizens League, Twin Cities chapter obituary for Nomura, “In 1926, as a winner of an essay contest for Nisei students, she traveled by steamship to Japan. She wrote that this trip ‘enriched my life and gave me a deep appreciation of Japan, its people, arts and civilization. It encouraged me to study the language, flower arrangement, holiday festivals, the tea ceremony, daily customs, Japanese cooking and serving, music, arts and crafts, particularly pottery, painting and calligraphy.’”

Then she came to OSC, as “the first Nisei woman from Portland to enroll in what is now Oregon State University.” She lived in Margaret Snell Hall all 4 years and graduated in 1930 with a BS in Home Economics.

Ruth Nomura

And, I tell you she was quite active on campus! Look at this list, it will make most feel like under-achievers.

  • Omicron Nu, secretary: National honorary fraternity in Home Economics, which was established at Michigan State college in 1912 and installed at OSC in 1919. “Its purpose is to further science in all extensive branches of home economics.”
  • Phi Kappa Phi: National all-college scholastic honor society, which was established at OSC in June, 1924. “The purpose of this society is to emphasize scholarship among college students, and to stimulate mental achievement by the honor of selection to membership. This society stands for the unity and democracy of learning.”
  • Kappa Delta Pi: “The purpose of Kappa Delta Pi is to foster higher professional and scholarship standards during the period of preparation for teaching, and to recognize outstanding service in the field of education.”
  • Clara H. Waldo prize, honorable mention
  • Cosmopolitan Club, vice-president: “The Cosmopolitan Club was formed to promote brotherhood and place humanity above all nations. Each year the club gives an International banquet. Meetings are every other week.”

And so … She left OSC in 1930 … But where did she go?

Again, turning to the obituary posted on the Japanese American Citizens League site we find an answer. She married Earl Tanbara at the Centenary Wilber Methodist Church in Portland, on September 16, 1935. When World War II, and relocation, began the Tanbara’s were living in Berkeley, CA. In 1942, they moved from Berkeley to a farm in Reedley, CA, in an attempt to avoid wartime internment. According to Earl Tanbara’s obituary, “[t]he bad news was that the boundaries for relocating individuals of Japanese ancestry were moved further inland and they were facing relocation. The good news was that the U.S. Army officer who visited the farm to inform them of the need to move to an assembly center was a former high school classmate of Ruth from Portland. The officer offered them an opportunity to move anywhere East if they had friends who would accept them. They contacted friends in Minneapolis and they were placed on a military train headed for the Twin Cities … Earl and Ruth assisted over a 100 evacuees to leave camp and find a place in the Twin Cities.” Ruth wrote, “Our main assignment was to build community acceptance. So each week, Earl and I were invited to different church groups, youth groups, schools, colleges and farming communities to give talks on Japanese Americans … As there were only 10 Japanese families living in St. Paul before the war, many Minnesotans were not acquainted with Americans citizens of Japanese extraction.”

At the end of the war, they decided to stay in Minnesota and in 1953, Ruth received her master’s degree in home economics from the University of Minnesota — as one of the first second generation women to earn a graduate degree. There is a letter in her OSC student file from 1953, written by her thesis advisor in Minnesota, with this wonderful quote: “I have never known anyone who was so versatile and could do well so many different things—from arranging flowers to organizing programs for the YWCA; from teaching foreign foods to writing publicity material. She is a charming, gracious person.”

What else do we know now? She was the Adult Education Director and International YWCA Program Director for the St. Paul YWCA from 1942 to 1972. She directed the participation of Japanese Americans in the first Festival of Nations in 1947, was one of the founding members in 1955 of the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee (serving as president of the board from 1966-1972), and was a charter member of the Japan America Society when it was formed in 1972 and served on its board of directors. Ruth was a longtime member of Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul, where she arranged flowers for Sunday morning services for more than 35 years, and the Japanese Garden at the YWCA on Kellogg Blvd. is named in her honor.

Ruth Tanbara passed away Jan. 4, 2008, at age 100. A small collection of her personal papers are available at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Another great book from the OSU Press

I loved “Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities,” especially once I realized it was reviewed by David Byrne in the NY Times… But when I read that Jeffrey Kovac, author of “Refusing War: Assuming Peace: A History of Civilian Public Service at Cascade Locks” was coming to OSU, I knew I had to pass it on to all our blog readers!

Kovak will be in Corvallis Oct. 18 for a 3 p.m. talk, presentation, and discussion at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. The event is free and open to the community.

Here’s a blurb from the OSU Press site:

“One of the untold stories of America’s World War II experience belongs to the thousands who refused military service for reasons of conscience, instead serving their country through non-military alternate service. Refusing War, Affirming Peace offers an intimate view of a single Civilian Public Service Camp, Camp #21 at Cascade Locks, Oregon, one of the largest and longest-serving camps in the system—and one of the most unusual. Under the leadership of a remarkable director, Rev. Mark Y. Schrock, and some outstanding camp leaders, the men at Camp #21 created a vibrant community. Despite the requisite long days of physical labor, the men developed a strong educational program, published a newspaper and a literary magazine, produced plays and concerts, and participated in a special school and research project called the School of Pacifist Living. They also challenged the Selective Service System in two political protests—one concerning the threatened removal of a Japanese American, George Yamada, and a second concerning a war- related work project.”

Click here to find out more…

Cool news from a historic upgrade

“Kearney Hall at Oregon State University has received gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council, the second major facility at the university to achieve the recognition for environmentally sensitive design and construction.”

“The recognition for the building comes 110 years after Apperson Hall was built at the intersection of 14th Street and Monroe Avenue. The $12 million restoration, completed earlier this year, was made possible in part by a $4 million gift from OSU alumnus Lee Kearney and his wife, Connie Kearney. He graduated in civil engineering in 1963, and she, after starting her studies at OSU, earned a degree in education in 1965 from the University of Washington. The building was renamed in their honor.”

Want to know more? Check out the Gazette-Times article “Historic OSU building earns ‘gold’ rating for green energy“.

Terra story featuring the University Archives

“A Bracero’s Story: Farm labor is a family affair”

“It started with Salvador, the patriarch. In 1959, he left his wife and children near Guadalajara, Mexico, to work the fields of California. Salvador Castillo was a Bracero — one of more than 4 million who came to the United States from Mexico under an agricultural worker program that lasted from 1942 to 1964.”

Want to read more of Celene Carillo’s story, hear University Archivist Larry Landis talk with Tasha Galardi about OSU’s Braceros Collection, and hear more about Galardi’s research? Check out the article!

Want to check out the Braceros in Oregon Photographic Collection?

People Doing What?

We’ve launched a new Flickr Commons set in a brand new collection! It’s dedicated to people — and all the stuff they do… Not surprisingly, the collection is called “People Doing Stuff.” The first set is from the Herman Bohlman Collection, and, again not surprisingly, is called “People Doing Stuff in the Herman Bohlman Collection.” 33 images this week, with 30 more to come on the 3rd Wednesday of October (10/21).

Herman Theodore Bohlman was born on April 15, 1872 in Portland, Oregon, and lived there all of his life. He was a lifelong friend of William L. Finley, the renowned ornithologist, naturalist, and conservationist. Bohlman and Finley were co-founders of the North-Western Ornithological Association in 1894 and several accounts tell of Bohlman teaching Finley photography…

The two started photographing birds in the late 1890s and between 1899 and 1908 they made many trips to study and photograph birds. Bohlman’s photographs appeared in U.S. and international magazines, as well as in Finley’s 1907 book, American Birds.

While Bohlman’s collection in the OSU Archives is full of wonderful images of birds found in the Pacific Northwest, it is also a treasure trove of images of “people doing stuff.” Included in the collection are images of the Portland waterfront wharves, Crater Lake, Alaska, the Mazamas in the Mt. Jefferson region, and Bohlman family & friends.

Fun fact: Bohlman was associated with the family’s plumbing business in Portland for over 40 years.

Fun fact: On October 14, 1908 he married Maud Bittleston at the Finley home, Jennings Lodge. They had one son, H. Theodore Bohlman.

Fun fact: The collection consists primarily of lantern slides (mounted & unmounted), glass negatives ranging in size from 3.25×4.25 to 6.5×8.5, and nitrate base film negatives.

Want to read all about our collection?

Want to see our other Flickr Commons set full of Finley & Bohlman’s pretty birds?

Want to know more about William Finley?

Want to find a copy of American Birds?

Glenn Klein talk: “On the Road”

Imagine a 225-mile journey from Jacksonville to Corvallis on foot, on horseback — and in a Conestoga wagon!

Hear the story of how the Jackson County 4-H Empirebuilders Club made this 13-day trek in observance of Oregon’s Centennial in 1959. Glenn Klein, Jackson County 4-H Agent and chief organizer of this event, will talk about his adventures “on the road” and show film footage and a slide show of images from the trek. Join us October 8th, 12 to 1 pm in the Valley Library’s Willamette Room.

Want to know more about this event and other Oregon Archives Month programming activities? Check out the 2009 OR Archives Month site.

Common Ground… A mini debrief

In the midst of beautiful fall leaves and the traditional Beaver orange & black, the Library quad was all pink & blue, Flickr-style. It was a lot of work, but from beginning to end it was also a lot of fun! Want to see how fun? Check out the “Common Ground 2009” set in the osu.archives Flickr account.

We had the chance to talk to many many passersby in the afternoon while Media Services and Facilities Services worked their magic with a crane, big screen, and patience during an enormous downpour. Many great conversations were sparked by the prompt “Do you want to know why there’s a big crane?”

The Gazette-Times wrote a great article, “Projecting a Northwest Image,” and indicommons has a complete global debrief from ALL the Common Ground events Friday and Saturday nights.

Sad that you missed the fun? Short on a time machine? You still have two options! You can view all the images selected for Common Ground on this indicommons page or scroll through all the images on Flickr.

Finding your Common Ground!

Hard to believe that after all my posts, the day for Common Ground has arrived… We’ll all be in the Library Quad tonight from 5:00 – 9:00, projecting onto the side of Kidder Hall. And no, it won’t be us on the big screen! You’ll see wonderful, historic pictures from all 27 Flickr Commons member institutions.

Can’t wait and want to see it now? Can’t make it but you still want to see it later? All the images have been tagged tagged in Flickr, so you can view the whole show here. You can run this as a slide show, choose whether you want it sorted by relevancy, recent, or interesting, and then click the slide show icon on the right of the page, sit back, and enjoy. You can also view just OSU Archives’ photos in the show by clicking here.

Oregon Archives Month

October 1st means it’s time to wish you all a happy Oregon Archives Month!

The big Flickr Common Ground slide show is tomorrow from 5:00pm to 9:00pm! You can find out more on our Common Ground site. If you are interested in attending, see you on the south side of Kidder – look for us under the big rain tent (which will be used, undoubtedly, to shield us from moonbeams instead of raindrops). If you can’t make it but know someone who would love to, please pass this on. And yes, we will be raffling off Flickr goodies… For questions, contact Tiah Edmunson-Morton at

If you can’t make it, fear not… There are 3 other events happening throughout October to commemorate Oregon Archives Month!

Glenn Klein and the 1959 4-H Oregon Wagon Trek

Glenn Klein

Imagine a 225-mile journey from Jacksonville to Corvallis on foot, on horseback, and in a conestoga wagon. Hear the story of how the Jackson County 4-H Empirebuilders Club made this 13-day trek in observance of Oregon’s Centennial in 1959. Glenn Klein, Jackson County 4-H Agent and chief organizer of this amazing event, will talk about his adventures “on the road” and show film footage and a slide show of images from the actual trek fifty years ago! Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 8th at noon to 1:00 in the Willamette Room to hear more about this memorable journey.

A recital showcasing OSU student and faculty poets


Hark! Hear the poetic musings of Beaver wordsmiths in a recital of selected poems penned by OSU students and staff. Originally featured in early yearbooks, at roasts of retiring faculty, and department holiday parties, these will be read by volunteers in the Willamette Room on Wednesday, October 14th from noon to 1:00. We encourage anyone interested in participating in this oratorical opportunity (especially as a speaker!) to check out a sampling of poems featured in the PDF document below. If something inspires you to join us with your voice, please let us know! Check the OR Archives Month event site for pdfs of poems.

Historical Recipes Showcase – the 3rd year of the “Taste of the ‘Chives”!


Fools, trifles, syllabubs and other culinary creatures from the 19th century will be highlighted on Wednesday, October 28th in a showcase of historic recipes featured in cookbooks in the Library’s collection dating from 1814 to 1899. This celebration of the pioneer palate will be held from 12:00 to 1:00 in the East Willamette Room on the third floor of the OSU Valley Library. All dishes will be prepared by volunteers and will be available for sampling. Check out the OR Archives Month event site for recipes.

For more on these activities, visit the 2009 OSU Archives Oregon Archives Month Events page.