Daily Archives: July 5, 2013

Friday Feature: The Order of the Spoon

When one of our student workers, Megan, shared the story of “The Order of the Spoon” with me, uncovered as she was writing a finding aid for the collection, I knew it had to be shared with the blogoverse!

Order of the spoon ticket for George W. Peavy

The Order of the Spoon, or Ordo Cochlearis, was an organization founded to foster sound scholarship and promote graduate study, including teaching, writing, and research, among doctoral degree holders on the faculty of Oregon Agricultural College (then known as OAC).

Established by the Triad Club in 1927, the organization became a separate and independent entity in May of 1929 and the majority of the PhD faculty were members. The Order took its name from the history of scholarship; it was derived from the custom of medieval scholars to wear a wooden spoon as the insignia of their calling. The group’s committee officers held titles of Chief Spoon Bearer, Assistant Spoon Bearer, and Ladler.

On the day of an Order meeting, members often met at one campus location, dressed in hoods and gowns (academic regalia), each carrying a spoon that was their totem. The group then paraded with much fanfare and frivolity to their location of their meeting, at which members took part in a banquet while speakers gave presentations on the state of scholarship at the College. New members – new Doctors residing within the “realm” of Oregon Agricultural College – were inducted into the Order at these meetings.

This 0.35 cubic foot (2 boxes) collection contains materials pertaining to the establishment, organization, and proceedings of the group; membership eligibility and lists; and meetings and banquets held by the Order. Of special note is a large spoon, the presumed emblem of the Order.

Additional materials pertaining to the Order of the Spoon are part of the Mathematics Department Records (RG 136) and the M. Ellwood Smith Papers. The Special Collections & Archives Research Center holds the personal papers of many of the members of the Order of the Spoon, including Othniel R. Chambers, George W. Peavy, William Edmund Milne, Francois A. Gilfillan, Willibald Weniger, and Clair V. Langton, as well as the Triad Club Records.