This morning I send this query to Rachel Lilley, Public Services Archivist, “Who’s Graf? Walking challenge.”
Here’s what she found!
Designed by architect John Bennes, Graf Hall was completed in 1920 for a total cost of $134,933 (it would have costed $1,729,766 today); it originally included a materials lab, a hydraulics lab, and a steam and gas engine lab, all served by a 5-ton electric crane. Samuel Herman Graf, for whom Graf Hall is named, was born in Portland, Oregon – technically speaking, Bethany, Oregon, a small community northwest of Portland – August 4th, 1887 to Samuel Graf and Emilie W. Schlueter Graf.
Graf matriculated at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) in 1903 to study engineering, graduating with his first degree – in Electrical Engineering – in 1907. He would go on to complete four more degrees at OAC: a post-baccalaureate degree in Electrical Engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, both in 1908; a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering in 1909; and a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, also in 1909. Between 1909 and 1954, Graf held several faculty positions in Engineering at Oregon State, beginning as an Assistant in Mechanical Engineering in 1908 while still taking classes. From 1909 to 1912, he was an instructor in Mechanical Engineering; from 1912 to 1920, he was the head of Experimental Engineering; he served as head of the Department of Mechanics and Materials from 1920 to 1934, and of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1934 to 1954. Graf additionally served as Director of Engineering Research from 1928 to 1944, and the Director of the Engineering Experiment Station from 1944 to 1954.
Not long after graduating from OAC, Graf married his first wife; the couple had two sons, Thomas (1913) and Ralf (1915). After his first wife’s death, Graf married Blanche Ann Edlefsen, and the couple had two children, Therese and Samuel, together. Blanche died April 28, 1952, and Graf remarried a third and final time (Violet).
In addition to his teaching and research, Graf served as American Society of Mechanical Engineers(ASME) chapter representative for all states west of Colorado, and later served as the Western Regional Vice President of ASME. Graf was a member of the State Board of Engineering Examiners for 22 years, and served as the Board’s President from 1939 to 1949. In 1949, Graf was named an honorary member of the Professional Engineers of Oregon, an honor conferred to those members of the society whose “achievements and service to engineering have been outstanding.” In 1955, Graf was chosen to serve on the Board of Trustees for Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon; the science building at Linfield – also Graf Hall – was later named in his honor.
This post is the last in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemicin 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.
The 1918-19 influenza pandemic was well documented, in part because of broad newspaper coverage, photography, and advances in medical science. Despite the pandemic’s detrimental effect in Oregon, where tens of thousands of people became ill and more than 3,600 succumbed, earlier disease outbreaks and pandemics proportionally had a greater impact, especially among Native communities. Most major diseases ravaged Oregon and the Pacific Northwest at one time or another in the late 18th and 19th centuries, including smallpox, malaria, measles, influenza, cholera and typhoid fever. Some of the diseases recurred periodically, sometimes on an annual basis.
Although disease was common among the mostly white emigrants on the Oregon Trail, historian William Lang has concluded that most outbreaks occurred prior to their arrival at Ft. Laramie in Wyoming. Many of the disease outbreaks in the late 18th and early 19th centuries transformed into epidemics that decimated the region’s Native populations, due to their lack of immunity because of no prior exposure. It is estimated that between about 1780 and 1850, 97 percent of Oregon’s Native population perished due to introduced diseases. Anthropologist Robert T. Boyd estimated that the population of two western Oregon Native groups, the Chinookan and the Kalapuyan peoples, declined from a pre-contact population of 32,000 to approximately 2,100 by the late 1830s. By the 1850s, disease outbreaks and epidemics had reduced Native populations to a fraction of their pre-contact numbers. However, many chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis, continued to affect the survivors in those communities.
According to Boyd’s Oregon Encyclopedia essay on disease in Native communities, a smallpox epidemic around 1781 was the first documented in Oregon. The documentation included oral tradition from the Clatsop Tribe on Oregon’s north coast and entries in the journals of Lewis and Clark noting pockmarked people in various Native communities. It is likely that this smallpox epidemic spread among many indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest.
Subsequent smallpox epidemics occurred almost each decade through 1870. A smallpox epidemic in 1853 struck the lower Columbia River region, wiping out as much as half the Native population in some communities. It was the last major epidemic among Native communities, as those populations had already suffered enormous population decline over the previous seventy years. Among non-Native communities, a smallpox epidemic in 1862 was particularly hard on the Aurora Colony. Jacksonville experienced a significant smallpox outbreak in 1868-69, and in 1870 western Oregon experienced a smallpox epidemic.
Outbreaks and epidemics of malaria, called “fever and ague,” in the early 1830s may have been even more virulent and destructive to Native communities than smallpox. It also greatly affected the Anglo population in the area; at one point in 1830, seventy-five people at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver were ill with the disease, though proportionately far fewer died than among the Native population in the region. In 1832 a malaria outbreak at the fort affected an estimated 137 out of 140 people, though few apparently died. Malaria also affected the Willamette Mission near Salem, established in the mid-1830s. Boyd speculates that the malaria epidemics of the 1830s may have been accompanied by influenza, possibly accounting for the high mortality rate since pneumonia is a complication of both diseases. An influenza epidemic in 1836 on the central Oregon coast and an 1844 outbreak of dysentery on the Lower Columbia also took many lives in Native communities.
A major measles epidemic in the Pacific Northwest in 1847-48 ravaged the Cayuse Tribe in the mid-Columbia River region, especially its children. This epidemic had a connection to the Whitman Massacre at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley in 1847, as it is thought that Marcus Whitman was killed by a band of Cayuse because of his inability to cure tribal members of the disease. The epidemic affected Native communities as far north as Sitka, in present-day Alaska, and south into the Willamette Valley. This was the first recorded measles epidemic in the Pacific Northwest, though the disease may have been present in the region as early as 1812.
The last major pandemic of the 19th century was an influenza pandemic in 1889-90. It was commonly called “La grippe” and later known as the “Russian influenza.” An estimated 1 million people succumbed to it worldwide, 13,000 in the U.S. It appeared in Oregon in December 1889, with initial newspaper reports of outbreaks in Astoria, Portland, Pendleton and Albany. Statistics for Oregon on the extent of the disease, the number of people affected, or the number of deaths are not known. The 1889-90 pandemic was a foreshadowing of what was to come less than twenty years later.
This post was contributed by Larry Landis, Director of Special Collections and Archives. Larry Landis is the director of OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center, and has worked as an archivist at OSU since 1991. He is the author of A School for the People: A Photographic History of Oregon State University. Larry is retiring from OSU on July 1.
This post is the fourth in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemicin 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.
As Oregon Agricultural College students began to arrive back on campus for the start of classes in October 1918, the “Spanish” Flu had not yet arrived in Corvallis, but measures were in place to take care of sick students and to help prevent the spread of the virus. The presence of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) on OAC’s campus greatly affected the efficiency of caring for sick students, which in turn encouraged Corvallis to follow suit.
Tracking of cases on the college campus started Tuesday October 1, 1918, the day classes commenced. The “Report of the College Health Service” in the College Biennial Report of the Board of Regents, 1916-1918, gives an excellent narrative of how the epidemic was controlled on campus, especially among the SATC cadets. 1918 was the first year that treatment was split based on gender. Male students who fell ill were treated by a medical officer and dentist attached to the SATC, and 8 local physicians. With the campus Medical Adviser, Dr. Wendell J. Phillips, away on medical leave, female students on the other hand, were treated by the resident nurse, Amy Cyrus, who saw patients in her offices on the ground floor of the Home Economics building and at students’ residences. From October through December, she attended to 159 cases of “Spanish influenza” and there were no female deaths reported on campus. The “Report” attributed her success to her efforts to prevent the disease in the first place by teaching students to diagnose the symptoms of the flu, and to protect themselves from it. As a whole, OAC suffered a total of 785 cases, with only 4 deaths at the end of 1918.
The flu, naturally, impacted student life as well. Student activities were cancelled or suspended and interactions were limited. However, despite the restrictions, the football game on October 12, 1918 was allowed to proceed as scheduled. But others later in the season were played without an audience. And come spring, the impact of the flu on the basketball season was a major concern. In the 1920 Beaver yearbook, which covers the 1918-1919 academic year, the Vigilance Committee commended the Freshman class for having shown “a fine spirit of willingness and helpfulness toward the institution and its customs” despite having lost three months of college life due to the cancelation of activities in the Fall 1918 term.
On October 11, the Gazette-Times announced that there were no cases of influenza in Corvallis and OAC students were being given medical attention at the first signs of colds or grippe in order to monitor for development of influenza. However, the SATC reports paint a different story. During the second week of classes, the cases numbered close to 200 and an appeal was made for expert medical assistance.
The third floor of Waldo had been converted into a thirty bed infirmary for male students, similar measures had been taken to isolate sick female students as well. Courses in hygiene and pharmacy adapted and added lectures in the management of colds and grippe, and also the nature of the Spanish flu. Sororities and fraternities were closed to visitors, and house mothers received training and supplies to care for their female students. Any student with a cold was instructed to stay home and not attend any classes.
In early November, US Major Cross of the medical corps attributed the relative success of the Corvallis epidemic to “above average intelligence” and a successful newspaper education campaign. At that time, there were only 2 deaths out of 400 cases in Corvallis and 4 deaths out of 600 on campus. This success was emphasized by the satisfaction of a state official who visited campus after complaints that the school was still operating. However, when he inspected campus and looked at the statistics, he allowed the college to stay in operation. In his final report about his visit at OAC, Major Cross reported “that the epidemic had been more successfully controlled at the Oregon Agricultural College than at any center of military training in the country where an equal number of men were concerned.”
By early January 1919, Corvallis reported a decrease in the number of cases reported, despite rumors that there were new cases and the town would have to be quarantined. On January 9, it was reported that no deaths had occurred since December 26. But there seems to have been a spike in mid- to late-January 1919 that made it necessary to use Shepard Hall on OAC campus as a hospital, which opened on January 11, 1919. This was due to a shortage of nurses and the difficulty of isolating students in dorms and other living communities such as sororities or fraternities. Although beds were provided, students had to provide their own linens in the hospital. By the 13th, 19 more cases were reported, bringing the total to 51, but officials maintained that there was no need to worry about the increase.
February continued to see impacts to life on campus. Although the demobilization of troops was a bright spot, a second quarantine prevented a return to normal and an impact on the college basketball season. Later in the month, there was also no indoor memorial service for college librarian Ida Kidder, who passed on February 28, 1919, because of the influenza epidemic. Instead, a memorial service was held in the open space in front of the library and she laid in state in the main corridor of the library on March 2.
As the epidemic subsided, thoughts turned to the future. Due to the need for nurses demonstrated by the pandemic, OAC began offering home nursing classes spring term 1919.
This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.