Author Archives: edmunsot

A Dive into the Archive: Inspecting Farmers of the Sea

Post by Valeria Dávila

When I rejoined OSUL as a Library Diversity Scholar in October 2019, the Valley Library was in the midst of moving collections stored at an off-site storage facility, set for demolition, to a new one. Some Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) collections, however, had been moved to the library first for a reassessment, and in that context, I was tasked with reassessing the 16 mm film production elements of Farmers of the Sea, a 1984 film documenting aquaculture practices in the US and abroad produced by Jim Larison for the OSU Oregon Sea Grant Communications Program.

Having no prior experience reassessing films, this opportunity was as frightening as it was unique. Until then, I had worked with films at SCARC only twice.

The first reassessing the Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection’s condition to craft a Salvage and Recovery Plan for a course, and second, inspecting, repairing, and rehousing the In Our Care series’ films in the KOAC TV Films Collection. I had also improved my skills by interning at the Yale Film Study Center that summer.

These experiences prepared me well for the task, but the project was still the most challenging I have ever had, not only in terms of size (311 film rolls for Farmers vs. 34 for the In Our Care series) but of the responsibility of determining which elements should be retained and which should be deselected. But these big challenges were also what made this project an opportunity to grow, and so, later that year, 11 boxes and 7 canisters containing these 16 mm films made their way to my office. Now ­I’ve completed the films’ inspection, I’m excited to share about this process in celebration of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage!

Preparing for the inspection

Previous to inspecting the films, I reunited all the tools and equipment needed for the task. Available at SCARC were the inspection bench and lightbox, as were the loupe, split reels, gloves, splicer, and blank leader. Thinking about the inspection tools I had used at my summer internship, I ordered a film measuring stick for documenting the length of the film rolls and proposed to upgrade our lightbox with a LED light pad I had used at YFSC. The LED pad was not only smaller and lighter, fitting better in the inspection bench, but the lightning was even, unlike that of the fluorescent tubes in our lightbox. SCARC liked the idea so much that it purchased two, the second for patrons to use at the SCARC commons.

While I waited for the supplies to arrive, I watched the digital copy of Farmers of the Sea, which had been recently made available online. Farmers of the Sea had been broadcast by WGBH-Boston as part of their PBS NOVA series in 1984, and this was the version used for that broadcast. Taking screenshots of each scene of the video, I made a storyboard for visual reference, that way I would be able to check the scenes and editing without having to rewatch the video over and over. I also created a film inspection report using that on the Film Preservation Guide (National Film Preservation Foundation, 2004, p.94) as a reference. The report had fields for documenting the distinctive characteristics of the film elements (gauge, length, support material, color, positive/negative/reversal; magtrack/optical track; variable area/density, generation, etc.) as well as their current condition (mechanical, biological, and chemical damage and decay).

Inspecting Farmers of the Sea and the COVID-19 pandemic

Maintained as two accessions, 2000:100 and 2003:083, accession 2000:100 contained the fewest number of film rolls but they were the longest, with an average length of 1,000 feet. This accession was also the most diverse in terms of the film elements type and generation (A&B cut negatives, workprints, release prints, internegative, interpositive, master, etc.). Accession 2003:083, in contrast, was much bigger in quantity of film rolls, but also more straightforward, consisting mainly of camera originals trims and outtakes.

I started with accession 2000:100 in February 2020, after all ordered supplies arrived. I printed blank reports and filled them by hand as I was inspecting the films, with the idea of transferring the data to a spreadsheet on the cloud at the end, once the inspection process of all films was completed.

I also produced photographic documentation using my cellphone. For each element, I photographed the box or canister the element had come in, as well as the labels and inscriptions on them. While inspecting the films, I photographed the information written on the leaders and film frames, making sure I captured the edge codes. These photos were valuable documents in themselves, but they also served as visual reference, allowing for rechecking the elements without the need of taking the films out again. For storing the photos, I maintained a Google Drive folder on the cloud.

As for the inspection goals, the first was verifying that each element had been correctly identified as per the preliminary inventory list. The second was furthering the identification and description of the elements, and the third, reassessing their condition. All elements were color acetate, so I paid special attention to vinegar syndrome and color fading. In the video below, I go through the inspection process step by step.



Step by step of the Farmers of the Sea inspection process.

By mid-March, I had managed to inspect 20 film rolls, 55% of the total 37 in this accession, but around this time, the COVID-19 outbreak occurred here in Oregon. My transition to remote work was rather sudden, and the films and equipment remained at the library. Permission had to be granted to go back in, and we decided to wait and see how the situation evolved, thinking that the onsite activities would resume sooner rather than later. But as time passed, and recommendations to quarantine continued, I asked for permission to bring the films and equipment home to resume work. This was May, so the project had been paused for two months.

Moving the tiny film archive home

Moving the tiny film archive to my house was not complicated, but adjustments had to be made, such as preparing the space I had been using as a home office to accommodate the 9 boxes and the inspection table. In addition to this, having no printer at home, I had to switch to entering the inspection information to the spreadsheet on the cloud much earlier than planned.

But perhaps the biggest challenge was catching up with the inspection after the two months pause and completing the inspection of the remaining 17 films in accession 2000:100, and the 274 in accession 2003:083, in a two-month timeframe, since I had my holidays starting in early August. Completing the task would not be possible on a part-time schedule, so I worked fewer weeks but on a full-time schedule instead. This way, I was able to return the films and equipment back to the library by August 1, and the fact that the majority of the elements in accession 2003:083 were smaller film rolls of camera original trims and outtakes also helped me achieve this.

Not all of it was inspection

Parallel to the inspection, I researched about the traditional film duplication process and the production elements often considered for retention and deselection at other archives. This process also involved consulting other film archivists in this last regard to compare against my preliminary thoughts. I also maintained conversation with the producer of Farmers to gain an insight on the production process of the film, which was helpful for clarifying one thing of two about some of the elements. Carrying out this project has been an incredibly rich learning opportunity for me, and I can hardly wait to see what I’ll be learning in the subsequent stages!

Happy Oregon Archives Month 2020!

Things are different this year… But we are still excited to share our treasures and connect with you all.

Enjoy student imagination with a showing of student produced films transferred from KBVR-TV! These short films, some of which were assignments for a New Media Communication class, feature action sequences, toys that come to life, and trees with eyes!

Hops have grown many places in the US, but since the 1890s, the Pacific Coast has dominated production. Learn about hops history and watch a short 1931 film about spring field operations and fall harvest.

Kenneth I. Helphand, author of Hops: Historic Photographs of the Oregon Hopscape book launch, in conversation with Tiah Edmunson-Morton, curator of the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives.

Valeria Dávila shares her preservation work experiences with “Farmers of the Sea,” a film documenting aquaculture practices. Blog post and behind the scenes images on October 27. 

All month long you can explore the past through favorite recipes from Tastes of the ‘Chives past! Recipes and photos posted every Friday across our social media.

  • #timetraveltuesday
  • #womenwednesday
  • #waybackwednesday
  • #tbt
  • #throwbackthursday
  • #flashbackfriday
  • #foodfriday
  • #WDAVH
  • #archivesmonth

Beyond Suffrage: Giving Voice to Oregon’s Unsung Women in Medicine

In late fall 2019, Sujittra Avery Carr, approached us about doing an internship. We had various projects in the brainstorm phase for the Suffrage Centennial in summer 2020, but besides a Wikipedia editathon to improve or add articles on Pacific Northwest women and a vague idea for an exhibit, we were wide open for whatever she wanted to do. Little did we know what was on the horizon. A series of cancellations and closures for physical events, but limitless options for online projects.

Carr put together a terrific exhibit on women in medicine and two very talented graphic design students helped bring color to her content. The full exhibit can be found in ScholarsArchive, our institutional repository, but the text of this post contains her introductory panel.

This exhibit was designed to increase awareness of the stories and voices of women who are not heard enough in our Oregon history of women’s rights. Systemic white supremacy, racism, and sexism combine to render some women less visible than others in our history. These women might not have been written about in their own time; past historians, researchers, writers, and archivists may have overlooked them or de-prioritized them; or the information about them, whether plentiful or scarce, may have come from biased perspectives. By bringing the voices and stories of these women into the forefront of our history, it is possible to show that we, as a society, value the experiences of women like them, both in the past and in the present. While this exhibit is linked to the commemoration of the centennial of national women’s suffrage, it is also important to recognize that not all women were able to vote following the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.

The curation and the development of Beyond Suffrage: Giving Voice to Oregon’s Unsung Women in Medicine has taken place almost exclusively remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was done using born digital or digitized archival materials. We recognize that it’s impossible to represent everyone within the scope of this exhibit and that the work of including traditionally underrepresented voices in Oregon’s history is an ongoing collaborative effort.

We also acknowledge that Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR is located in the traditional territory of the Chepenefa (“Mary’s River”) band of the Kalapuya. After the Kalapuya Treaty (Treaty of Dayton) in 1855, Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to what are now the Grand Ronde and Siletz reservations, and are now members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

We would like to acknowledge the work done by the Oregon Historical Society and the Century of Action – a project of the Oregon Women’s History Consortium, as well as the work done by our archivists Tiah Edmunson- Morton and Natalia Fernández, our graphic designers Kallie Hagel and Emma Pattee, and our intern who led the development, curation, and writing of this exhibit, Sujittra Avery Carr. This exhibit would not be possible without them.

You can find information about the following women in the online exhibit!

Dr. Sarah Chan, Chinese Medicine Doctor, 1857-1924

Dr. Harriet Lawrence, Pathologist, 1883-1974

Dr. Lena Kenin, OB/GYN and Psychiatrist, 1897-1968

Dr. Mae Cardwell, Physician, 1853-1929

Dr. Joanna Cain, Physician, Teacher, Researcher, 1950-present

Mary Thompson, Pioneer Doctor, 1825-1919

Willie Mae Hart, Nurse, 1915-2017

Back on Stage: Digitized Images from OSU’s 1989 production of The Tempest

Post by Karl McCreary, Collections Archivist

An elfin Ariel playfully peering down from her rocky ledge to meet the eyes of a bespectacled and bearded Prospero looking upwards at her with a rather pedantic glance.

Scott Gilbert as Prospero and Julyana Soelistyo as Ariel in The Tempest, 1989.

This photograph from a 1989 production of The Tempest staged at Oregon State University enchanted me from the very moment I accessioned the print as an addition to the University Theatre Photograph Collection (P 112). The image resides among several thousand other views of campus theater productions here in the holdings of the OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center. Other archival items documenting OSU’s lively and rich legacy of theater include scrapbooks, play programs, posters, director prompt books, and letters to theater faculty from their former students with updates of their acting careers.    

Little of this history would have been preserved were it not for a long and fruitful relationship between the Archives and Professor Emerita of Theatre Arts Charlotte Headrick. With a deep respect for the study of history and 35 years of directing and acting on campus, Charlotte has been a true advocate for our work to ensure that the stories from the OSU stage be saved and shared.  

A longtime friendship with Charlotte has placed me in the role of her research assistant many times. So when she approached me last summer for help in researching the history of Shakespeare productions at OSU for a presentation, I donned a very familiar hat and eagerly dove into collections I knew well! Among the resources I uncovered were a set of photographs depicting Charlotte’s 1989 staging of The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s most memorable plays. The images, taken by Charlotte and another OSU staff member, beautifully captured a production full of energy and color with vibrant costumes, monumental set design, and expressive faces.  

It is little wonder then, that when Charlotte agreed to reprise her Shakespeare at OSU lecture as an event for Oregon Archives Month, I remembered the Tempest images fondly and decided to feature a shot of that magical encounter between Ariel and Prospero (described above) on the poster publicizing Charlotte’s presentation. 

After Charlotte’s fun and fascinating talk, which was recorded and is available online for download, I began the process of preparing the slides and prints depicting the Tempest performance for digitization. In the expertly capable hands of my colleagues Kevin Jones and Brian Davis, all 139 images became available for viewing on the Oregon Digital in February of this year and can be accessed online. To add more dimension to the scenes and characters reflected in these images, I’m sharing in this blogpost some of Charlotte’s stories about the production. So here are some of the tales of the 1989 Tempest at OSU!   

Buffy Bowman as Miranda and Scott Gilbert as Prospero.

For those who saw the curtain rise for the 5-night run of The Tempest at the Mitchell Playhouse in April 1989, the stage resembled a stony landscape of blues and greys with a series of cliffs and corridors. The play is set on an island where magic and reality are intertwined by spells cast by the exiled Duke of Milan Prospero and a sprite, Ariel, who conjures up a storm to shipwreck a group of travelers upon the isle with ties to the Prospero’s past. 

Charlotte vision’s for staging this interplay of characters (realized by set designer Richard George) was reserving the upper “plateau” of the rocky stage as the magical realm where Ariel flits about and sends enchantments (at the command of Prospero) to those on the earthly plane below. Prospero resides down on the “terrestrial” level of the stage interacting with both worlds. While he confers with Ariel above, Prospero is also communicates face-to-face with daughter Miranda and the many shipwrecked “guests” he brought to the island.   

Soomi Kim as Ariel, adding a gymnastic flair to the role!

Charlotte gave the character of Ariel a unique twist in this production by casting two students, Julyana Soelistyo and Soomi Kim to both play the same role. The scenes were carefully directed to have only one Ariel appear on the stage at a time, requiring Soelistyo and Kim to coordinate a sort of choreography where they alternately darted back and forth onto their rocky bluffs. The images of the show depict the silvery-suited Ariel(s) in a constant state of motion, casting spells and spying on the islanders unaware of her presence above. As one of the images reveals, Kim used this kinetic role to highlight some of the moves she picked from her experience on the OSU Gymnastic Team. 

To enhance the magical ambience of the production, Scott Gilbert in his role as Prospero incorporated a few slight-of-hand tricks and employed a little flash powder to give his stage presence a little added magic.

For the overall look of the characters in the show, Charlotte wanted a Renaissance feel inspired by the sumptuousness and vibrant colors captured in the paintings of the 19th century Pre-Raphaelite artists. Miranda’s white dress was directly modeled on a subject in a Pre-Raphaelite work Charlotte saw in a London exhibition. That costume designer Marie Chesley was able to painstakingly reproduce the beautiful draping quality of this garment is still one of Charlotte’s favorite memories of her Tempest production. 

Staging The Tempest required a sizable cast and among the 28 actors and technical crew members who made it possible were what Charlotte affectionately referred to as the “three Pauls.”  This trio was made up of J. Paul Hopkins (Stephano), W. Paul Doughton (Caliban), and Paul Seipp (one of the mariners). For the power in his facial expressions and movement Doughton was a clear standout in the cast as the roguish and anguished character of Caliban. Playing a character that is essentially indentured to Prospero on the island, Doughton vividly conveyed Caliban’s sense of feral rage, guile, curiosity and self-pity. The images also highlight Doughton’s mastery of physical comedy in Caliban’s zany interactions with the characters of the drunken butler Stephano (one of the other Pauls!) and the jester Trinculo (played by Brent Norquist).   

W. Paul Doughton as Caliban and J. Paul Hopkins as Stephano.

For many of the “alumni” of this production of The Tempest, there would be many more roles to come after 1989. Both Soelistyo and Kim have had active careers on stage in a diverse range of productions in New York City, Seattle, and Denver. Soelistyo has gone on to play the character of Ariel two more times. One of these performances, at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, Canada, won wide acclaim (with Christopher Plummer as Prospero) and was profiled in the Winter 2011 issue of the Oregon Stater. Kim, who describes herself as a performance artist as well as an actress, returned to OSU in April 2014 to give a weekend workshop in the Lab Theatre. Other Tempest actors Michael Lowry (Sebastian) and Jorji Knickrehm (Ceres) have appeared in a variety of stage and TV productions since their days at OSU.   

These colorful glimpses of the Bard on the OSU stage is a reminder that life is made up of fleeting moments of amazing and intense experiences that can be captured. And in sharing these fun images of historically staged drama available, perhaps we can make our current drama a little more bearable.

Morning walk research challenge: who is this Graf guy?

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.

Samuel Graf died July 22, 1966 following a stroke.

Morning research run challenge: what’s the story behind this bench?

Campus is so beautiful right now, painfully so because it is also so empty. This path is one of my very favorite on campus and I was drawn there early in the morning last week.

I wanted Rachel Lilley, super duper Public Services Archivist, to find this picture because I love how small the tree is!

It turns out this one was a real stumper! She still has some questions, so please do message us at scarc@oregonstate.edu if you have answers…

Just off the path bisecting McNary Field, and roughly stationed at the point where all three paths meet, you’ll find a roughly-hewn stone bench. Edged in moss, and softly pitted from over a century of Oregon weather, the bench sits invitingly beneath what is now a massive deciduous tree. The plaque on the backrest reads:

 For H.R.S.

Two roads diverged in the woods, I took the one less traveled “with you” and that has made all the difference.

From J.A.S

The quote, of course, is a slightly altered line from Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Takenfirst published in The Atlantic Monthly in August 1915 and later included in his collection Mountain Interval (1916).

Referred to as the “Campus Seat” in a photograph captured the year it was installed, the stone bench was a gift of the class of 1903. In an article in the Orange Owl in October 1926, “Historic Monuments Found on Our Campus,” Professor of Geology D. C. Livingston stated the seat was carved out of a rock that was deposited by a glacier in Oregon’s prehistoric past. How the Class of ’03 came by this massive stone is uncertain.

Humorously, by 1920 the bench had earned a moniker a bit more salacious than “Campus Seat” – the “Fusser’s Bench” (fussing was a term used in the 1920s to mean “necking,” or “making out”). In fact, the bench, situated on what was once called “Old Administration” path, seems to have had a long history as a place of romance and assignations. The February 1928 edition of the Orange Owl jokes that on the “bench on lower campus there is a sign that reads: ‘Class of ’03.’ Something must be wrong because you seldom see more than two there.” As a senior, Frieda Linder, Associated Women Students President, wrote with fond nostalgia of the bench: “We can visualize the stone bench of ’03 drenched in blue moonlight, and recall with amusement the mad rush to reach home by closing hour on starry nights.”

Perhaps not as romantically but more momentously, the class of 1927 buried its “will” and the “class prophecy…exactly one yard in front of the right leg of the stone bench,” unearthing it 25 years later in 1952.

The dedication on the backrest, however, sadly remains a mystery. A search for “bench” in Oregon Digital, though it revealed additional information about the bench itself, surfaced no information about the plaque, or the two people whose initials are inscribed there. Keeping in mind this was a gift of the Class of 1903, the initials could belong to two students who graduated that year and who later paid for the installation of the plaque. No two students with those initials graduated in 1903, however. In 1916, a year after The Road Not Taken was published, Harley R. Shields and James A. Straughan graduated from Oregon Agricultural College. But so too did James A. Sathers.

This correspondent chose to abandon the search for matching initials in the yearbooks of the 1930s, but perhaps one of our readers will take it up. All our yearbooks are digitized as a set, and are available on Oregon Digital. From the digital collection’s main page, you can click on “Decade” along the left side of the page to narrow your search.

Do you know the identities of the “H.R.S” and “J.A.S” on the Class of 1903 bench? Please reach out and let us know (seriously, it’s killing me)!

Afternoon walk research challenge: what’s this building?

Here’s the afternoon walk research challenge I gave Public Services Archivist Rachel Lilley late in the work day on Thursday: what is this building, who is it named after, and what’s the story of the right side? Hint for the last is “food.”

She jumped right in yesterday morning — probably because I’d already sent her a Friday morning research challenge. 😆

Here’s what she wrote!

Hovland Hall* – designed by Portland architect John Virginius Bennes** – was constructed in 1919, and originally served as the home of the Horticultural Products department. In fact, if you look closely at a photograph taken of the building in 1920, you can see the name etched above the front entryway, complete with the Classical, architectural affectation of using “V” in place of “U.”

When it was constructed, the Horticultural Products building was incredibly modern, boasting thelatest equipment in its laboratories, and allowing for cutting-edge research. The laboratories were “well equipped for giving instruction in…fruit packing, vegetable grading and crating, and systematic pomology” (the science of growing fruit). The building was also equipped with a “40-horse-power boiler for high pressure steam,” and the “juice room” in the building’s basement allowed for the manufacture of “fruit juices, carbonated beverages, and vinegars.” From pressing and filtering cider, to canning berries, the Horticultural Products building left its students and faculty desiring little. In 1923, the west wing of the building was added; this space would later become the laboratories of the Food Science and Technology department. The nearly-$20,000 contract for building and outfitting the “annex” – the small addition to the right of the main entryway – included the purchase of a “modern cannery for instruction and experimental work.”

Over the course of the past century, Hovland Hall has seen a number of tenants. What began life as the “Horticvltvral Prodvcts” building became the home of “Food Technology” in 1941. By 1950, “Food Technology” was re-christened “Food Industries.” When a new food technology building – now Wiegand Hall – was constructed in 1951, the Farm Crops Department was relocated to Hovland and the building subsequently became the “Farm Crops building.” Farm Crops vacated the Hovland with the construction of the Crop Science building in 1982, and the Computer Science Department took up residence. The building’s present-day namesake is Dr. C. Warren Hovland, professor of philosophy and religion who taught at Oregon State from 1949 to 1986. Presently, Hovland Hall serves as both an administrative wing for Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the home of the Peace Studies program.

But this wouldn’t be a Morning Run Research Challenge, without a bit of a challenge! Just in front of the steps into Hovland, set into the concrete, is a mysterious plaque. It is four squares high, by four squares wide, and each square contains a number. Right off the bat, we can solve half the mystery. As expertly reported by Tiah Edmunson-Morton – SCARC’s Outreach and Instruction Archivist – the numbers on the plaque are an example of what is known as a fourth order magic square, “[adding] up to [the same number in] all directions, corner to corner and diagonally.” Historically, third order magic squares – three-by-three squares in which adding the numbers vertically, horizontally, and diagonally results in the same sum – were known in China as early as 190 BCE. Fourth order magic squares can be dated to India in the late 6th century, and examples of third to ninth order magic squares can be found in the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity (983 CE).

The real mysteries of the magic square plaque outside Hovland Hall remain: who installed it, and when? As Edmunson-Morton surmises, it could have been the faculty or students of the Computer Science department. No definitive proof has yet been located, however, and this part of the mystery remains…unsolved.

*Fun Fact: Want to know more about buildings on OSU’s campus? Check out our OSU Buildings Histories Guide! The entry for each building includes information about the building’s namesake, date of construction (and renovations), architect, square footage, and often a picture! 

**Fun Fact, Bonus Edition: In total, Bennes designed forty buildings – plus ten additions and remodels – on OSU’s campus between 1907 and 1941, including the Armory, Agricultural Hall, Snell Hall, and Weatherford. An Oregon Encyclopedia entry written by SCARC’s own Director, Larry Landis, has more information on Bennes’s life and work.

Morning research run challenge: who’s name is on this bench?

This morning I nearly stumped Public Services Archivist Rachel Lilley!

Here’s what I sent her: “I actually have zero idea about this one – it’s a bench I used to pass on my way to work and have long wondered…”

By 10:41AM she’d solved it. Links are embedded in this post, and remember you can do your own historic OSU research online using Oregon Digital and ScholarsArchive!

And now — heeeerrrrre’s Rachel!

Found nestled in the boughs of one of Oregon State’s glorious rhododendrons, on the walking path between the Strand Agricultural building and Gilkey Hall, this bench is a memorial to Scott Donald Henderson. The plaque affixed to the bench’s backrest quotes from John Lennon’s peace anthem Imagine, and lists the years of Henderson’s birth and death (1964 and 1988, respectively). One would think that with these biographical details in hand, finding more information about Scott D. Henderson would be fairly straightforward. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like a good “puzzler”), historical research can sometimes be trickier than we expect.

In this case, the wrench in the works comes in the form of Scott Perry Henderson. Scott P. Hendersonof Toledo, Oregon attended Oregon State University in the mid- to late-1970s, graduating in 1980with a Bachelor of Science in the College of Liberal Arts.

Scott Donald Anderson is listed as a Freshman in the 1983 Beaver and, curiously, as a Senior in the 1984 Beaver. In both years, he is pictured alongside his Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers. He is not listed, however, in any previous or subsequent Beavers, nor is he listed in the 1984, 1985, 1986, or 1987 Commencement programs. There is, however, a Scott D. Henderson – of Beaverton – listed in the 1988 Commencement program, and this Scott Henderson happens to have also graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Liberal Arts. Since Scott Perry and Scott Donald are the only Scott Hendersons who graduated in the 1980s, chances are high that the Scott D. listed in the 1988 Commencement is the Scott Donald Henderson memorialized on the plaque.

But wait! There’s one more twist! The February 1989 issue of the Oregon Stater – OSU’s alumni magazine – includes an “In Memoriam” listing for Scott Donald Henderson. While that listing states, correctly, that Scott D. was affiliated with Delta Tau Delta, it incorrectly includes him in the Class of 1980, Scott P.’s graduating class. If we assume the dates on the bench are correct, and Scott D. was born in 1964, he would have had to matriculate at OSU as a ‘tween to graduate in 1980.

All this is by way of saying that historical research can be messy. It can throw curveballs and heaters, and sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for the walk. Scott Donald Henderson passed away in Corvallis, February 29, 1988.

Morning run research challenge!

It’s a Two-sday triple play with 4 visual pictorial clues! What building is this? Who is it named after? And what is underneath? Bonus points for a ghost story.

Rachel Lilley, our Public Services Archivist, is always game for a morning research challenge and has been a great sport at fielding my random queries. I won’t lie, there are days I only go for a run because I know she is waiting for a mystery!

I’ve also been posting these on our department Twitter, so you can play along on your own https://twitter.com/osuscarc.

Here’s what she gave me today. I know you’ll agree she is a super star. AND she did all this because we have so much online!! Links are embedded in the text so you can learn more on your own.

Part I: Originally constructed as a women’s dormitory, Sackett Hall was built to help “alleviate a severe student housing shortage on campus due to the post World War II enrollment surge.” Prior to its completion, female students complained that the University had waited too long to begin construction, and that the housing crisis on campus had already hit its breaking point. The Building and General Labor Union – Local 1386 – additionally argued the job was unfair to workers, though the reasoning is unclear. In spite of these protests, the building – which is divided into four quadrants with two wings per quadrant – was completed in 1948. In the spring of 1950 it was dedicated to Beatrice Walton Sackett, a member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and an alumni.

Part II: It has long been “rumored” that an underground system of tunnels, or “catacombs,” runs beneath the university, including Sackett Hall; this “rumor” is especially pernicious during late October, and has been known to surface at least once a year in SCARC’s Reading Room. As with all urban legends and rumors, there is a kernel of truth at the center: there are indeed tunnels running beneath Sackett Hall. Not catacombs, which would imply bricked-over caverns used as burial chambers, but rather the tunnel system used by university facilities and maintenance crews to service the network of pipes that heat and cool university buildings. Moreover, despite long-held belief to the contrary, there is no “secret entrance” to the tunnels and, as they are used regularly by campus staff, they aren’t especially conducive to wild parties.

Part III: A second rumor, involving Sackett Hall’s basement and the connecting steam tunnels, alleges that infamous serial killer Ted Bundy used the steam tunnels beneath Sackett to abduct and kill OSU coed Roberta Kathleen Parks. There is no evidence to substantiate this rumor; Park’s disappearance has never been explained, and her case remains unsolved. The circumstances of Parks’ abduction may in fact have been conflated with that of Diane Wyckoff, who was killed in her dorm room February 8, 1972. A tree was planted, and a memorial plaque installed, in memory of Wyckoff; the plaque and tree can be found in front of Kidder Hall at the edge of the Library Quad.

Hello from inside the library!

Hi Everyone-

It’s possible that you don’t know me by my username, but I’m the one who started this blog a really long time ago…

We’re in a tough time right now. Beyond the tragedy and struggle outside our walls, for those of us here in the OSU Special Collections and Archives Research Center work and our interactions with all of our terrific users has fundamentally changed. Library staff are SO busy maintaining the building, getting us equipment so we can work remotely, and making sure ALL the people in the OSU community can access our digital and physical materials. While many of the SCARC staff are working “behind the scenes” from their homes doing descriptive work and creating research guides for our or collections, providing metadata for films and video, and offering opportunities for our researchers and students to engage with us in virtual office hours, others are also catching up on reading and taking a break. We are all making it work in our own ways, thinking about how much we look forward to seeing you all again.

Much of my work over the past several years has focused on brewing history in Oregon, but this term I’m also stepping up (and back into) my role as lead for our instruction program. Today I went into the library to scan some materials to do remote teaching for an English 200 class, but I also picked up the mail and some equipment to make my recordings a bit better. I thought I’d share some of my pictures with you to see what things look like on the inside of the library.

Thank you all for your patience. We are living through extraordinary times.

Tiah

I’ll be ready to podcast by the time we’re back in the building!
Opening mail! 😍
Running shoes are optional for lake expeditions.
This donation is a gem! We’ll be back soon to get it in proper housing and let you know more about it.
We got a rule book in the mail too!
My coworkers are looking for a good background for virtual reference. Zoom in and you’ll see a unicorn next to the disinfecting wipes!
This is where I spent most of my time. The Library staff scanning course reserves and remote requests have been swamped, so they put our BookEye out in the alcoves to scan during the week.
Scanning letters from the Civil War… We will get through this trying time too.