Monthly Archives: October 2017

Four Oral History Websites Released by SCARC!

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 3.29.55 PM

Four new oral history websites comprising more than 550 hours of content have been released by the Oral History Program at the Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC). Three of these websites were built using open source resources that are available to other repositories seeking to provide online access to their own oral history collections.

OSU 150

The largest of these sites, The OSU Sesquicentennial Oral History Project, celebrates 150 years of OSU history by presenting 276 interviews conducted with OSU alumni, faculty, staff, current students and supporters. The project’s web portal is comprised of more than 400 hours of media and over 3.4 million words of transcription. About 1.8 TB of born-digital content were collected in building what is the largest oral history project ever conducted at Oregon State.

The vast majority of the interviews presented on the site were video recorded and all are contextualized with full-text transcripts, interview abstracts and biographical sketches. Users also have the option of sorting interviews by interviewee affiliation or interview theme, and are free to download .mp3 audio files of all interviews as well.

OHMS/Omeka Sites

In addition, three websites using a combination of the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) and the Omeka web publishing platform are also now available. These websites are:

All three of these websites utilize a combination of OHMS, the Omeka Seasons theme, the OHMSObject plug-in, and custom .css and .php modifications that have been released by the OSU Libraries on GitHub. Additional details on how the sites were created are provided in Technical Notes appended to each project.

For more information on any of these initiatives, please contact Chris Petersen, Senior Faculty Research Assistant in SCARC.

My Student Experience

Post contributed by Kassidy Benson, Student Archivist

As a student, working in the archives is one of the highlights of my time at Oregon State. The atmosphere is friendly and calm, and the materials we have available are riveting to study.

I first got involved with SCARC when my Medieval Literature class took a tour to see what materials this branch of the library had to offer. Among several other pieces of the main collection, the artifact that stood out to me the most was a Latin handwritten edition of the Holy Bible from circa 1400. The fact that I could hold this artifact in my hands, to look through it to see the water-coloring in the margins and the manicules drawn next to important passages, was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Though the Rare Books Collection was what initially caught my eye, it’s just the tip of the iceberg with this area of the Valley Library.

My own personal work has been organizing and filing materials from the Williams Collection, which consists of the personal papers and references of former national historian for the U.S. Forest Service, Gerald W. Williams. His papers date from 1970 to present and include his personal papers, reference documents, correspondence, many manuscript drafts for his several books, and ephemera from several different areas of his study. My duties with this collection include sorting materials into several of the main areas of Williams’ focus, such as: Army Spruce Production, Umpqua National Forest, Smokey Bear, Civilian Conservation Corps, papers on Gifford Pinchot, papers on Judge Waldo, and more. It has been insightful and interesting to go through this collection, as I’ve learned so much about the nature and history of the National Forest Service, the history of the Pacific Northwest, and how the NFS has changed in the last 40 years.

My time working with the rest of SCARC has been both educational and transformative. Direct contact with patrons in the Reading Room and viewing their research first hand has been a great experience; watching students and non-students alike utilize our resources and marvel at our collections is inspiring. Learning to page and circulate materials is also enjoyable–I feel knowledgeable about the various collections we have acquired, and it’s refreshing to learn something new about our archives every day. The staff is a delightful bunch, each student or staff member with a passion about the work they do and the materials they work with.

Fort Rock, Lake County, Oregon. Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums (P 303), Album 16- Southeastern Region- Oregon.

Fort Rock, Lake County, Oregon. Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums (P 303), Album 16- Southeastern Region- Oregon.

Taste’ of the ‘Chives: International Flavors

We’ll be scaring up some toothsome aromas and flavors from the files of International student organizations at OSU this upcoming Halloween for this year’s Taste of the ‘Chives Recipe Showcase!  Lemon rice, aloo gobi, minted tabouli, postre de nues, and many other dishes were featured in campus cultural celebrations over the years.  These are now archived and we want to try them out!

When?  Tuesday, October 31, noon to 1:00

Where?  Willamette Rooms-Library 3rd Floor  

To bring these flavors to life, we always need some extra cooks to help out, so if you’re willing to share your culinary skill, please let Karl McCreary ( know or check out our Facebook event!

You can find other recipes used by international student organizations here in the “Food Fair: International Cookbook.” Our own Melissa Hartley helped to put together this publication!

Looking forward to seeing you there and enjoying some tasty times!

Oregon State University Releases Major Oral History Project Featuring Interviews with Hundreds of Faculty and Alumni


Oregon State University has released the largest oral history project ever conducted at OSU. The product of more than four years of work, The OSU Sesquicentennial Oral History Project consists of more than 400 hours of fully transcribed video and audio recordings with well over 200 alumni, faculty, staff and current students. The entire collection is available online at

The project team, which was housed in the OSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC), traveled near and far to collect regional perspectives on Oregon’s Land Grant university. In addition to a great many interviews captured in Corvallis, Portland and the Willamette Valley, project staff traveled to Bend and Newport as well as Pendleton, Hood River, Sutherlin and Klamath Falls to record the stories of a wide variety of alumni and faculty, particularly those associated with OSU’s branch campuses and Extension and Experiment Stations. The oral historians likewise visited locations out of state including San Francisco, Denver, Norman (Oklahoma), Houston and Washington, D.C. to meet and interview a selection of high-profile Oregon Staters.

The completed collection consists of more than 100 interviews with OSU alumni from every decade beginning with the 1930s; over 100 additional interviews with OSU faculty, both current and emeritus, representing all of OSU’s colleges; another 20 interviews with OSU staff (current and retired); and 10 more with current OSU students (undergraduate and graduate). A total of 111 majors, departments or thematic points of emphasis are represented within the collection.

Included among those interviewed are three OSU Presidents (Ed Ray, John Byrne and Paul Risser); an assortment of prominent OSU athletes (Terry Baker, Yvenson Bernard, Dale Story, Joy (Selig) Petersen and four individuals connected with the 2006 and 2007 College Baseball World Series-winning teams); and internationally known alumni including National Geographic editor Chris Johns, groundbreaking clergywoman Katharine Jefferts-Schori, NASA astronaut Don Pettit, and National Medal of Science recipient Warren Washington. The collection also features interviews with 24 OSU Distinguished Professors as well as the three individuals who served as co-chairs for the $1 billion Campaign for OSU. Likewise included are interviews with a retired carpenter, a greenhouse worker and union activist, an E-campus student located on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the head of the OSU Motor Pool.


“Our ambition was to provide as full a portrait of the university and its history as we could,” said project director Chris Petersen, senior faculty research assistant in SCARC. “I’m quite certain that there are pockets of OSU that are not especially well-represented in the finished product, but my hope is that anyone associated with Oregon State will see at least a piece of themselves somewhere within the collection.”

A total of 276 interviews have been made available on the custom-built project website, each of them fully transcribed and contextualized with biographical sketches and abstracts for all those who participated. In total, more than 3.4 million words of transcription have been released on the site. Some of the collection’s most significant topical strengths include the Advancement of Women, Athletics, Entrepreneurship, Environmental Sustainability, Extension and Experiment Stations, International Studies, Journalism, Military Service, Multiculturalism, Oceanography, and Public Service. OSU’s Land Grant heritage and mission are documented throughout the project. Specific interviews focusing on Sea Grant, Space Grant and Sun Grant at OSU are included as well.

Commissioned in anticipation of OSU’s 150th anniversary in 2018, the oral history project was sponsored by the OSU Office of the Provost, University Marketing and Relations, OSU Libraries and Press, the OSU Foundation, the OSU Alumni Office, and The Oregon Stater alumni magazine. All told, thirty-eight people contributed in some form to the creation, development and online representation of the project.


Scholorship Doll

This term we’re starting a new blog series where we highlight the perspectives of our student archivists.  Our students are essential in doing the work that we do, from processing collections to helping pull items from our stacks for researchers.  Their involvement also means that they get to see a lot of cool things, so we thought we would share their experiences with you!

Post contributed by Helena Egbert, SCARC Student Assistant


I am currently going through the manuscript collection of the OSU Mother’s Club Records. Accessions, or additions have been made to this group of records a few different times over the years. Many of the accessions haven’t been arranged in any understandable or meaningful way, so at times sorting through it been at times overwhelming and confusing. Within any archival chaos however, there are chances for fun discoveries.

I came across several pictures of two women, one of them holding what appears to be a very large Raggedy Ann doll. Without context, these photos don’t really mean anything. I decided to look for mention of a doll as I continued to look through these documents. It didn’t take long until I came across a flyer for a “Scholorship Doll” raffle (spelling mistake included!), proceeds going to the OSU Mom’s Club scholarship fund. The flyer listed the drawing as taking place at the Annual Salad Bar Luncheon in Hermiston.


With a little bit of digging, I found documents related to this event. This event was held in the spring of 1982 on April 16th for the Umatilla branch of the OSU Mother’s Club. A correspondence dated April 17, 1982 includes thanks to Sherry Johnson for “another darling doll,” leading me to believe that Sherry Johnson made the doll for the raffle. This same document describes that over 1,300$ had been raised for the scholarship program.

After these discoveries I found another photo of a different, but similarly styled doll, labeled as “1980 Doll, made by Sherry Johnson for OSU Mom’s Luncheon” leading to an educated guess that at least for a couple years, the OSU Mom’s Luncheon included the raffle of a homemade doll.

IMG_0034_optWhen this collection is done being processed and is available to the public, these photos and documents will be available in the MSS OSU Mother’s Club Records, Series 10: Pendleton (Umatilla County) Unit.

Oregon Archives Month Events

How can you participate you ask? Well this is the post you’ve all been waiting for!  Here are the events we have planned for the month:

Football Film Fun!

Friday 10/13

12:00-1:00, Willamette Rooms

Celebrate Homecoming Weekend by watching clips of historic Beaver gridiron victories and colorful pregame mayhem! We’ll show recently digitized footage of games against USC and UO as well as clips of the quirky atmosphere surrounding big games in 1976 and 1940. Free popcorn and soda will be available for this lunchtime viewing, so come and join us!

Football player punting the football with Waldo Hall and Langton Hall in the background.

Football player punting the football with Waldo Hall and Langton Hall in the background.

Glitter in the Archives!

Thursday 10/19

4:00-6:00, SCARC reading room

Bring your imagination and curiosity about OSU and Corvallis-area Queer history to our 2nd annual Glitter in the Archives crafting showcase! This public event will feature archival materials to inspire collage-making and a chance to find more out more about the OSU Queer Archives (OSQA).


Taste of the ‘Chives-A Showcase of Global Flavors

Tuesday 10/31

12:00-1:00, Willamette Rooms

Sample the many flavors brought to campus by international student clubs! This annual public tasting of archived recipes will showcase dishes such as caldo verde, snake cake, lemon rice, and aloo gobi originally featured at cultural celebrations.   These recipes can be found here along with many others, so if you want to prepare and share one of these at the event-that would be great!  Being Halloween, the archival button fairy will haunt you with a free prize if you’re donned in your festive best.

Students prepping for Indonesian Night.

Students prepping for Indonesian Night.

“Accounting for Ecosystems in a Post-DDT Age”

Post contributed by Manasi Vyas, SCARC Student Assistant

Leah Aronowsky, Resident Scholar

Leah Aronowsky, Resident Scholar

Leah Aronowsky is a PhD candidate in the history of science at Harvard University who served a term as resident scholar in SCARC this past August. Her dissertation focuses on the concept of steady-state stability in the postwar American environmental sciences.

At SCARC, Leah examined efforts in the 1970s to develop ecosystem screening, advance the field of ecotoxicology, and introduce the meaning of environmental risk in the post-pesticide age. A particular focus of her work was DDT, a pesticide with detrimental consequences that can extend to an entire ecosystem. In particular, DDT has a tendency to persist in the body of organisms for long periods of time, eventually working its way up the food chain with deleterious outcomes.

In the 1950s, the use of DDT – which was embraced by farmers – underwent a five-fold increase. By the early 1970s, the negative effects of DDT had become more pervasive, forcing researchers to contend with this growing environmental threat. As they did so, scholars also began to highlight the need to construct a new method of evaluating chemical hazards, such as a screening system, that would reveal the relationship between a pesticide and an entire ecosystem.

The ecological microcosm is a mode of thinking that emerged from the post-DDT age. In this context, a microcosm is a small scale ecosystem that comprises different flora and fauna, and that contains a set of processes that can be intrinsic to all ecosystems everywhere. It is a lab-based tool that researchers believed would empower them to amplify chemical and biological processes, with potential applications in screening tests for the effects of pesticide use.

In the late 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency was established to monitor air and water quality at a national level. In its early years, the EPA depended rather heavily on two pieces of legislation passed by Congress: the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Substitute Chemical Program. During this period, DDT was banned and four regional EPA labs were tasked with addressing the pesticide problem. Researchers at each of these labs identified the microcosm as a vital method for detecting substitute chemicals and they set out to develop a standardized model that could establish a balance between the pesticide industry and the EPA.

One of the four EPA labs was based in Corvallis and was charged with administering the Substitute Chemicals Program. One of the Corvallis-based scientists, James Gillett, developed a microcosm ecosystem module for pesticide testing. About a year into the program, Gillett’s team ran several trials with this microcosm to make sure that each element functioned properly before initiating any pesticide screenings. They quickly ran into a problem with voles that had been built into the microcosm and which brought a degree of unpredictability that was unacceptable in terms of experimentation. (The team finally concluded that nature refuses to be simulated.) Ultimately, the Substitute Chemicals Program at Corvallis proved to be short-lived. Although researchers identified possible substitutes for a variety of banned pesticides, many of the substitute chemicals themselves were also in consideration to be banned by the EPA.

James Gillett

James Gillett

Although enthusiasm for the microcosm faltered, it was later reinvigorated by new legislation that required the testing of chemical product safety in terms of its effects on both human health and the environment. This, along with increased EPA funding, led new researchers to begin innovating with the microcosm. For instance, instead of constructing microcosms from scratch, the Soil Core Microcosm consisted of materials harvested directly from the field and focusing on a single area of an ecosystem. This new form of the microcosm was endorsed by the EPA and continues to be explored today.

Looking back, the early, general form of the microcosm was plagued by failure in both detecting chemical effects and as a pesticide screening device. The lab and field exist on a spectrum, and the microcosm, which is a hybrid of the two, is stuck in the middle, meaning that the significance of place is lost in the device. In its failure, the microcosm demonstrated that there is something intrinsically valuable to specificity and scale in ecosystems.