Monthly Archives: March 2013

Friday Feature: the Mystery of the Magic Square

Oh my, how I love a good mystery! Guest blogger Mike DiCianna has been working on this puzzler and needs the help of or blog-o-verse — so step up and put your thinking / researching caps on!

Magic Square in front of Hovland Hall

Outside the main entrance of Hovland Hall, at the base of the steps is a small bronze plaque of a “Magic Square.” Who or what group placed it there? When? What magical significance does the number 34 have to this building? Inquiring minds need to know.

We have received a couple of research requests about the magic square in the past week. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it had been covered by a trash can for some unknown period of time, but now this bronze plaque is exposed for passers-by to ponder its mystical meaning. The magic square adds up to 34, all directions, corner to corner and diagonally. At first, 1934 seemed to be a connection, but after a search of yearbooks, Barometer articles, and other assorted archive records came up blank. There does not appear to be any record of this installation anywhere — and historical researchers are never satisfied by a dead end like this!

Hovland Hall has gone through many incarnations since being built in 1919. Originally, the building was known as the “Horticultural Products Building,” and still has that name over the main door, but it was renamed for the first time in 1941/42 to “Food Technologies.” By 1950, this name changed again to “Food Industries” and again in 1952 to the “Farm Crops Building.” By the 1980s, Hovland hall was known as the “Computer Science Building.” It has also had parade of college departments tenants, acting as a home to students of Horticulture, Food Technologies, Computer Sciences, and Philosophy. Of these diverse disciplines, who would be the most likely to embrace the Magic Square?

One likely suspect is the Computer Science Department, given their love of numbers. Or perhaps this mystical, magical square is philosophical? Another clue may lay in the renovations of the building during the late 1960s when the steps were changed from their original style since the small bronze plaque does not appear to be close to a century old like its host building.

Hovland Hall, 1989. Computer Science Dept Photograph Collection, 1972-1998 (P 240)

Any information about the history and purpose of the Hovland Hall Magic Square would be greatly appreciated by SCARC. Hopefully there is someone with a memory of the event or dedication of this plaque. This little mystery begs to be solved — after all it is a “Magic” Square!

Friday Feature: 15 Views of Oregon Agricultural College

Great things come in little packages, right?

“15 Views of OAC,” front view

Measuring 5 1/2″ x 3 1/2″, the “15 Views of Oregon Agricultural College” includes 15 pictures of various spots on campus (each measuring a mere 3 1/2″ x 2″). It is just a bundle of fun! There is a whole Flickr set, so while the day away and explore the days of yore!

This is part of a new addition to the George P. Griffis Portfolio and Scrapbook collection, assembled by Griffis to document his career with The Oregonian newspaper and the Pacific National Advertising Agency in Portland, Oregon. The materials were donated in 2010 by Griffis’ daughter, Joan E. Griffis. Another accession in 2011 added materials on Griffis’ student experience at OAC, as well as a hand-drawn card to commemorate his promotion to the Oregon Advertising Club. The new addition to the collection, of which this little gem is a part, is mostly photographs. You can read about the particulars of the collection online.

George Griffis attended Oregon State College from 1926 to 1929 and studied engineering and business. During his student years, he was national advertising manager for the Barometer campus newspaper; he continued this work as promotion manager for The Oregonian newspaper in Portland, Oregon, from 1929 until 1951. In 1951, Griffis left the The Oregonian to work for the Pacific National Advertising Agency where he worked until 1963, when he formed his own advertising firm. The George P. Griffis Publishing Internship at the Oregon State University Press was established in 2010.

Friday Feature: class pictures!

Line up!

Photo of the OSC student body, 1931

Taken in 1931, this lovely & long landscape picture is probably most of the student body in 1931. It looks to be taken from the “OAC Cadet Bandstand,” which was removed when the current library was built.

My favorite is the late arrival sauntering across the quad!

Late arrival!

In case you are looking for it or others like it, you’ll find it in Harriet’s Collection. And if you’d like to know more about the bandstand, George Edmonston has written a short piece about it, and the Lady of the Fountain, on the Alumni Association site.

Friday Feature: new finding aid for John Lattin Papers

The Special Collections & Archives Research Center is pleased to announce that the Guide to the John D. Lattin Papers is now publicly available online.

The collection represents the work of entomologist John Lattin during his four-decade career at OSU and includes extensive professional correspondence, research projects, publications, Entomology Department materials, biographical and employment records, and more.

John Lattin joined the staff of the Oregon State University Entomology Department in 1955. During his time at OSU, Dr. Lattin specialized in Hemiptera or “true bugs” and conducted research on the reaction of insect populations to evolving environmental conditions such as climate change, the appearance of invasive species, logging, and the introduction of pesticides. Much of this research was focused on Pacific Northwest forests and conducted in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest.

Lattin also served as the curator of the University’s entomology museum, a role that required him to manage and grow the university’s insect collections through cooperation with other universities, laboratories, and private collectors. In service of his students and colleagues, Lattin immersed himself in an international insect specimen trading network made up of museum curators, researchers, and hobbyists. His own field work gave him the opportunity to collect species of insects unique to the Pacific Northwest and trade them for exotic specimens from around the globe. Lattin’s correspondence is filled with records of his efforts in procuring samples for OSU and disseminating specimens from Oregon. Lattin’s research and collecting efforts took him all over the United States and abroad to the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

In a survey conducted in the mid-1970s, the OSU entomological collection was ranked in the top 25 collections of its kind out of almost 600 collections across the United States and Canada.  It grew to more than 2.5 million specimens under his guidance and was both a source of professional pride for Lattin and a valuable teaching tool for entomology, zoology, and biology students.

Jack Lattin’s instincts as a collector were not confined to insect collecting. Lattin began cultivating a personal collection of rare books on the history of entomology in the early 1950s. Though his collection was originally intended for personal research use, it became a crucial teaching tool when he began teaching an Historical Entomology class in 1955. Over the next forty years, his collection would grow to encompass hundreds of books, all carefully chosen from his worldwide network of rare book dealers specializing in entomology.

When Jack Lattin donated his entire research library to the OSU Libraries in the 1990s, the rare books of his collection were absorbed by Special Collections, where they established a strong foundation in historical entomology. Today, the collection is valued not only for its entomological content, but also as a rich source of examples in the history of printing. From gorgeous hand-colored engravings in the 18th century to fine chromolithographs in the 19th and 20th centuries, the collection showcases the change in scientific illustration techniques over time.

Related materials include the Entomology Department Records (RG 027), and the papers of Norman Anderson, Ralph Berry, Ernst Dornfeld, Louis Gentner, Paul Oman, Paul Ritchter, and Herman Scullen.

Straight from the Library Records and only at OSU — Beaver Librarians

Did they once work here? Play here? Study here? Yes, those gosh darn beavers are everywhere!

Helpful reference beaver

Found in the files of a recently retired Librarian, these hand drawn cartoon-like beaver figures appear to represent different parts of the library, but where they were published or displayed nothing is known… Now, through the miracle of the Flickr-verse, they can live again!

These mysterious pencil renderings will be described as part of the Library Records (RG009) in the OSU Special Collections & Archives.

McDonald Room beaver

Friday Feature: new display “Woman Citizen: Past, Present, & Future”

New display on the 5th floor of the Valley Library

In honor of women’s history month, we celebrate both student work and the history of women in Oregon in a new display on the 5th floor of the Valley Library.

“Woman Citizen: Past, Present, & Future,” curated by Chloe Tull and Matthew Gaddis (both students in a fall 2012 “Women and Politics in American History” class), focuses on the research process and experiences, with descriptions of the projects, quotes from classmates, and pictures of their time in the Special Collections & Archives reading room.

Work on his class began in the summer of 2012, when Professor Marisa Chappell and Archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton started talking about two events happening the following fall, both of which directly involved women, history, and Oregon.

The first was “Woman Citizen: Past, Present, and Future,” a series of events to commemorate the centennial of woman suffrage in Oregon (1912-2012) by fostering education and discussion about women’s history and the gendered dimensions of citizenship, and also by encouraging civic and political engagement at OSU and in the Corvallis/Benton County community.

The second was a “Women and Politics in American History” course. This special topics course was a part of the Woman Citizen Project and gave students the opportunity to employ the skills they have learned in their other history courses to complete an original research project, with the goal of creating lessons on women’s history to bring into local schools. Their major product was an original historical interpretation in the form of a history curriculum for high school students. Each student chose one of three topics in twentieth century United States political history: women’s peace movement, women’s suffrage, and Title IX. They read historical scholarship on that topic and conducted research in primary historical documents. While there are materials pertaining to Ava Helen Pauling’s peace activism in the “Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers” housed at the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC), Professor Chappell knew that there were two collections at the University of Oregon and Oregon Historical Society that offered exciting research experiences for the other two topics. We arranged to borrow portions of the Abigail Scott Duniway Collection for those researching Suffrage activity in Oregon (UO) and the Edith Green Papers for those researching gender equality and Title IX (OHS). While all three groups produced lessons, only the “Women’s Suffrage: In Oregon and Beyond” group presented theirs.

We know that working with historical materials creates a learning experience that is both relevant and meaningful for students; it also allows students to develop a critical and comprehensive understanding of history in a way they may not have experienced before. Both of these have a direct positive impact on student learning. This display celebrates that work and encourages others to dive in, open some boxes, and share what they’ve learned!

Want to see more pictures of students in the Special Collections & Archives doing their fabulous research work? Check out the Flickr set “Fall 2012: students in the archives!”

Want to read about some of the special women who have made an impact on our life here at OSU? We have a plethora of blog posts just for you