Monthly Archives: December 2023

New Finding Aids: October – December 2023

SCARC completed 3 new finding aids October – December 2023 and updated 2 finding aids; as of the end of December, SCARC has 1141 finding aids in Archives West.

These finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, the SCARC website, and the OSU Library discovery system a.k.a. “the catalog.” The links below are to the guides in Archon, SCARC’s finding aids website.

New collection guides created this quarter:

Oregon State University Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Student Experience StoryCorps Collection (OH 053)

The Oregon State University Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Student Experience StoryCorps Collection is comprised of video recorded testimonies provided by EECS students from non-traditional or historically underserved backgrounds. The stories shared by these students are meant to document their experiences while also providing insight to university and industry leaders on approaches to improve support for Engineering students from underserved communities. The collection is entirely born digital and the raw video of each interview is available online.

COVID-19 at Oregon State University Collection, 2020-2023

The COVID-19 at Oregon State University Collection consists of materials submitted to or collected by multiple projects whose aim was to document university and community life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The collection includes submissions to a collecting initiative led by the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC); two outreach activities sponsored by the OSU Libraries; and an additional collecting project led by OSU Psychology professor Regan Gurung. The collection also includes compilations of university- and library-wide broadcast emails communicating operations adjustments necessitated by the pandemic, as well as university social media posts reflecting the culture of remote work at OSU. The collection is rounded out by a print zine published by the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, and an assortment of pandemic-related websites that have been preserved by SCARC staff within the Internet Archive. The collection is largely born digital, supplemented by a smaller paper component.

Julie Green Papers

The Julie Green Papers document paintings and other art works created and exhibited by Art Professor Julie Green. Along with photographs of their pieces, this collection includes published information about exhibitions of Green’s art, in particular, “The Last Supper” series. Joining the Oregon State University Art Department in 2000, Green taught coursework in painting and drawing. They died in 2021.

Finding aids that were updated / expanded and re-uploaded to ArchivesWest:

*These finding aids are featured as part of SCARC’s reparative description work*

United States War Relocation Authority Reports, 1942-1946

The United States War Relocation Authority Reports are comprised of more than fifty mimeographed reports detailing the operation of War Relocation Authority (WRA) concentration camps used to house Japanese American incarcerees during World War II.

Mildred and Frank Miles Scrapbook of the Santo Tomás Internment Camp, 1942-1947

The Mildred and Frank Miles Scrapbook of the Santo Tomás Internment Camp scrapbook includes documents and ephemera produced at Santo Tomás during the Miles’ imprisonment there, as well as materials written about the camp after liberation. Many materials document daily life in the camp. The Santo Tomás Internment Camp was created by the Japanese military after occupation of Manila, the capital of the Phillipines. It was located on the campus of the University of Santo Tomás in Manila, and housed over 4,000 incarcerees for nearly the entirety of World War II.

Reparative Description of the N-word in SCARC’s Collections

In March 2023, a subset of archivists in our department began work on the challenging task of addressing the N-word within SCARC’s collection guides and digital objects. This project was launched as a component of a much larger effort to evaluate legacy description through an anti-racist lens, as led by the SCARC Arrangement and Description team.

A search of SCARC’s online resources revealed the presence of the N-word in fifteen oral history interview transcripts, three collection finding aids or container lists, three article or book manuscripts published on the SCARC website, and two event video transcripts that have also been published on the SCARC website. We addressed these instances in different ways, as follows.

Oral History Interviews

The N-word appeared most frequently in interviews conducted with members of the African American community, as housed in the African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection (OH 029) and the Oregon Black Pioneers Oral History Collection (OH 042). For both collections, we added a statement on description to the collection finding aids reading, “Please be aware that some of the contents in [this collection] may be disturbing or activating. In several instances, interviewees relay stories that recount a culture of racism and the use of racist, derogatory language toward African Americans, including the N word. Connected to this are stories of trauma, both personal and community-wide.” A similar statement was added to the finding aid for the Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Collection (OH 026), which includes multiple “stories that recount a culture of racism, sexism and homophobia, and the use of derogatory and harmful language.

In these and other instances, we also chose to add language to the abstracts used to describe oral history interviews as digital objects. For two particular interviews, we concluded abstracts as follows, “Throughout the interview, the narrator shares stories of persecution, abuse and subjugation of indigenous peoples. Connected to this are stories of trauma, both personal and community-wide. At one point in the interview, the narrator also uses racist, derogatory language to describe African Americans that is reflective of a broader culture of racism.

Another interview abstract required different language: “ […] Specifically, the interviewer and narrator refer to place names that reflect a culture of racism and the use of racist, derogatory language toward African Americans, including the N word.

Events Videos

Two past events recorded and transcribed by SCARC included use of or reference to the N-word. In one instance, a panel participant recalled his experience of being referred to by the slur, and in another case, a presenter displayed an archival document that used the term. For both resources, we added language to the event abstract warning users that aspects of the presentation may be disturbing or activating.

Article and Book Manuscripts

SCARC holds the papers of William Appleman Williams, a prominent radical historian who was a member of the OSU faculty in the 1970s and 1980s. As part of a past project, two article manuscripts as well as the text of an unpublished novel were released on the SCARC website. The articles included use of the N-word in reference to the historical treatment of African Americans, and the novel was reflective of Williams’ experience of race relations while on military assignment in Texas in the years following the conclusion of World War II. Neither of the articles were summarized with abstracts, so we chose instead to add parenthetical notes at the beginning of each piece, warning of Williams’ use of “racist, derogatory language to describe African Americans that is reflective of a broader culture of racism.” The unpublished novel is contextualized with a lengthy introduction, at the end of which we added a similar content warning.

Finding Aids and Container Lists

The presence of the N-word in three finding aids or container lists proved to be somewhat more difficult to address. In one instance, images of a location in Washington state that bore a racist place name were both cataloged in a collection container list, and also digitized and described in Oregon Digital. The location’s name was changed by the federal government in 1968, and we updated both the container list and the Oregon Digital records to indicate as much. However, we also chose to retain mention of the former name, with a note documenting the 1968 change.

In a second instance, a book title containing the N-word had been cataloged into the bibliography of a large collection finding aid. After discussion, we chose not to make any edits to the description for this item, since the bibliographic information for the book will remain permanent in library catalogs wherever this item is held.

Finally, another collection container list includes a description of a piece of logging equipment that appears to have been, perhaps formally, referred to in racist terms well into the twentieth century. We have contacted a colleague who is well-versed in the history of forestry to seek out an alternative term for the item, but have as yet not found a replacement name. As such, for the time being at least, this term remains extant in our collections descriptions, with the following additional context: “This name was given to a piece of equipment used to place logs in position on a carriage and to turn logs during sawing operations. Use of the term was commonplace in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” 

Relevant Collection Finding Aids and Digital Resources

Colegio César Chávez, 50th Anniversary

Colegio December 12, 2023 Event Promotion

On December 12, 2023, PODER: Oregon’s Latino Leadership Network hosted an event to commemorate the official 50th Anniversary of the Colegio César Chávez. It was on this date in 1973 when Colegio community members decided on the name in honor of the activist. The event began with a presentation by Colegio co-founders Sonny Montes and José Romero followed by a community conversation, which was recorded and is available online. The evening continued with an introduction from PODER Board Chair Anthony Veliz; a welcome by Chemeketa Community College Woodburn campus Dean Elias Villegas; a reading of the Governor’s Colegio César Chávez Proclamation by Javier Cervantes, Office of the Governor – Racial Justice Advisor; and concluding remarks from Montes and Romero. And, the Colegio exhibit was featured as part of the event!

Check out all of the blog posts related to Colegio César Chávez and see below for event photos!

Oregonian newspaper clipping re: Colegio’s new name
Colegio 50th Event Group Photo of Event Attendees
Colegio 50th – December 12, 2023 – Community Conversation
Colegio 50th – December 12, 2023 – Evening Event Agenda
Colegio 50th – Exhibit
Colegio 50th – Exhibit and Evening Event Space
Colegio 50th – Evening Event Table
Colegio 50th – Evening Event Program
A presentation by Colegio co-founders Sonny Montes and José Romero
The Governor’s Colegio César Chávez Proclamation presented to Anthony Veliz by Javier Cervantes
Closing remarks by Colegio co-founders Sonny Montes and José Romero
Colegio 50th Photo Collage
Colegio 50th Photo Collage

Reparative Description of the Term “Squaw” in SCARC Collections

Oregon State University boasts the title of Oregon’s largest public research university with thirteen research and experiment stations across the state. Some of these stations have been associated with Oregon State for nearly a century. Among them is the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Recent archival work dealing with this experiment center and its previous names has led SCARC to evaluate the use of the term “squaw” in our collections as part of our ongoing work to address racist, outdated, and inaccurate descriptive language in our finding aids.

The word “squaw” is derogatory. Historically, it has been used as a misogynist and racist slur to disparage Indigenous American women. Even so, the United States Department of the Interior reported in 2021 that 650 geographic sites in the United States contained the term in their name, including Squaw Butte in Lake County, Oregon. In the same report, the department stated its intent to rename each of these sites. As of January 2023, many of these sites had been renamed. The landform in Lake County is now known as Stairstep Butte. 

As a landmark topographic feature, this butte influenced the establishments surrounding it. Among these establishments is the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Historically, this field station was named Squaw Butte Range Livestock Station after the nearby mountain peak. 

The previous name of this station came to light via work on the News and Communications Services Records. Among the thousands of biographical materials in this collection are those of Carl Lawrence Foster, who was a professor of agriculture who worked at the station beginning in 1970. After writing Foster’s biography, SCARC staff researched and compiled the history of the station with particular attention to its name changes over the years. 

Established in 1935, the Squaw Butte Range Livestock Station merged in 1944 with the Harney Branch Station. The newly-formed station was named the Squaw Butte Harney Range and Livestock Experiment Station. This was renamed the Squaw Butte Experiment Station in 1954. Another merger occurred in 1974 with the Eastern Oregon Experiment Station under directors Martin Vavra and R. J. Raleigh, forming the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center.  

Although the station’s name was changed, it was not changed as an acknowledgement of the harmful nature of the original. Even after the merger, the 16,000 acres that had previously been the Squaw Butte Experiment Station were still referred to colloquially as “Squaw Butte Station” for several years by locals and Oregon State employees alike, as evidenced in the Oregon’s Agricultural Progress publications from winter 1976 and spring 1981. It appears that this nickname waned in use in the early 1990s. 

After the historical context of this experiment station was established, SCARC looked to other uses of “squaw” in its collections in order to evaluate its use and provide a similar context. Many other uses of the slur were in reference to the Squaw Butte Experiment Station, as well as geographic features across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, including valleys and creeks. Other times, the word was used in the context of colloquial species names, such as “squawfish” or “squaw grass”. However, in two collections (the Ralph I. Gifford Photographs and the Gerald W. Williams Prints and Postcards of Native Americans Collection), the slur is used to refer to Native American women. In both collections, the word is found in the captions and descriptions of images of these women.

SCARC acknowledges that the racism and misogyny represented by the term “squaw” may cause harm to our users. In order to provide historical context and enable standardized searching and access across our collections, we have retained the use of this phrase in collection descriptions. However, we have also added a note to each affected collection to inform users of its context, along with a link to the SCARC Special Collections and Archives Research Center Anti-Racist Actions website and this blog post. Providing access to these historical materials does not endorse any attitudes or behavior depicted therein. 

List of SCARC Collections Reviewed: 

This work was completed in large part due to the initiative of Grace Knutsen (Student Archivist) and the support of the Squaw subgroup: Anna Dvorak (Public Services Assistant), Natalia Fernández (Curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives), and Cydney Hill (University Records Manager).

Reparative Description of the Term “Internment” in SCARC

Contributed by Kevin Jones, Digital Collections and Metadata Archivist and Anne Bahde, History of Science and Rare Books Librarian

As part of our ongoing work to address racist, outdated, and inaccurate descriptive language in our finding aids, we recently looked at the use of the term “internment” and reviewed the descriptions in our collections for material related to Japanese and Japanese American incarceration in the United States during World War II. We relied heavily on the guidance and recommendations created by the Reparative Archival Description Task Force at Yale Library. This task force consulted with Japanese American community groups to identify preferred terms to replace terminology that was racist or erased the harm done to Japanese and Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II represented in archival collections. We highly recommend the use of these guidelines when undertaking similar work.

We reviewed the descriptions for seven collections in total. Several collections, such as the William H. Maas Scrapbook, the Hans Plambeck Papers, the Richard Y. Morita Papers, the Japanese-American Association of Lane County, Oregon, Oral History Collection, and the Rebecca Landis Papers, required fairly straightforward updating of legacy terms with alternative terms recommended from the Yale task force. Other collections, such as the Mildred and Frank Miles Scrapbook of the Santo Tomás Internment Camp, required more consideration of these terms within the context of the collection and the addition of more precise subject headings, such as Concentration camps — Philippines

Particularly regarding our collection of War Relocation Authority reports, the original descriptions in the finding aid mirrored the neutral social scientific language used in the reports. This “scientific” language erased the harm the incarceration and the act of researching imprisoned Japanese and Japanese Americans did to the prisoners. Following the guidelines, we attempted to replace existing language with recommended terms that more accurately reflects the damage done in and through these reports. “Internment” continues to show up in the finding aid where it is part of a formal name or title in keeping with the Yale guidance. This is both necessary because it is a matter of the historical record and also aids in research as many potential users have been educated using ‘internment’ as the reference term for Japanese American incarceration. We recognize that, while we attempted to be thorough, future revision to these and other descriptions may be necessary to further address as yet unrecognized bias. 

Internment subgroup: Kevin Jones, Digital Collections and Metadata Archivist; Anne Bahde, History of Science and Rare Books Librarian; Julie Judkins, Department Head