Category Archives: Women in History

WGSS Oral Histories ~ a SCARC & WGSS 521 Feminist Leadership Collaboration

In spring term 2023, SCARC collaborated with the course WGSS 521 Feminist Leadership, taught by Dr. Kali Furman. The class consisted of 8 graduate students, most of whom, but not all, were students within the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. The collaboration consisted of a term-long oral history project, with the interviews added to the OSU Queer Archives Oral History Collection due to the Queer Studies Program’s development as part of the WGSS Program, as well as for the content and perspectives shared within the interviews. The WGSS focus of the class project was in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the WGSS Program’s establishment.

Below is a description of the course and the collaboration:

Over the course of the term, we will work collaboratively with Natalia Fernández in the Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC) on an oral history project that focuses on the legacies of feminist leadership in our community. In honor of the 50-year anniversary of the WGSS program at Oregon State, we will conduct oral histories with members of our WGSS community. We will spend time in the archives learning about histories of feminist leadership, activism, and resistance on our campus, work with Natalia on the purpose and processes of oral histories, and by the end of term, contribute oral histories to SCARC’s collection. We will work collaboratively to determine the structure and process of our oral history project, create an interview guide, and to support each other throughout the process. At the end of the term, we will have an open celebration with SCARC, our interviewees, and the broader WGSS community where we share highlights from our oral histories. 

Engaging with the archives and conducting oral histories through this project allows us to engage with feminist leadership in multiple ways:

– To engage in a feminist leadership praxis, it is important to know the history of the communities we are a part of, what legacies we are leading from, and who we are leading with. This project offers the opportunity to learn about the history of our community and individuals within it, and to think about our own feminist leadership praxis from an informed place-based perspective.

– Conducting oral histories gives us the opportunity to explore the relationship between living a feminist life and praxis-informed feminist leadership for leaders within our community. This process will also allow us to learn things about ourselves too!

– Engaging with the archives and conducting oral histories also allows us to develop a specific skill set that will be useful in your current and future leadership endeavors and is a particular kind of research method that can be applicable to your studies more broadly. 

At the end of the term, the students submitted a total of 7 interviews featuring 9 interviewees! The interviews provide a range of perspectives on the OSU WGSS Program and what feminist leadership means to the interviewees.

Below are the oral history interviews, organized in chronological order, with the bio notes and summaries written by the students:

Ron Mize Oral History, interviewed by Jakki Mattson on May 10, 2023

Link to the Ron Mize Oral History Interview

Bio: Ron Mize is an associate professor in the School of Language, Culture, and Society and former coordinator of Ethnic Studies (2020-2021). He previously taught International Relations, Sociology, Latino Studies, and Ethnic Studies at ITAM (Mexico City), Humboldt State University, Cornell University, University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne, California State University-San Marcos, University of California San Diego, Southwestern College, Colorado State University and University of Wisconsin Rock County.  He was trained as a journalist at the University of Colorado Boulder and went on to study Sociology at Colorado State University (MA) and University of Wisconsin-Madison (PhD). In 2016, he was the Fulbright-Garcia Robles Chair in U.S. Studies at el Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.  In 2020-2021, he was the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. His scholarly research focuses on the historical origins of racial, class, and gender oppression in the lives of Mexicano/as and Latina/os residing in the United States. Due to the reliance on Mexican labor in the rural industries of agriculture, mining, and railroad construction, his historical research explores the class, gender, and race formations of Anglo-Chicano relations as they relate to these sectors of rural spaces and the economy. He investigates the degree to which contemporary immigrant labor is informed by the history of Mexican incorporation into the rural United States. He is also committed to building Latinx studies within a comparative ethnic studies framework. He seeks to understand the underlying assumptions about nation, race, identity, gender and class in how the public forms our opinions about immigration and part of his effort is to carve out a new paradigm for understanding both the political economy and culture of immigration as well as their interconnections. Dr. Mize is the author of over 50 scholarly publications, including LATINA/O STUDIES (2019, Polity Books),  THE INVISIBLE WORKERS OF THE U.S.-MEXICO BRACERO PROGRAM: OBREROS OLVIDADOS (2016, Lexington Books), CONSUMING MEXICAN LABOR: FROM THE BRACERO PROGRAM TO NAFTA (2010, University of Toronto Press, with Alicia Swords), and LATINO IMMIGRANTS IN THE UNITED STATES (2012, Polity Books, with Grace Peña Delgado).

Summary: In this oral history with Dr. Ron Mize, the conversation begins by Dr. Mize describing a small insight into his homelife before he decided to pursue higher education. He describes how he was the second person in his family to attend college and what the alternative would have been if he didn’t (working full time for his family’s carpet cleaning and chemical business). After he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder, he worked in radio for a few years before deciding to pursue additional higher education. He earned his Master’s in sociology from Colorado State University then continued on to get his PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Once he received his doctorate, he entered the job market in institutions of higher education. He talked about his experiences trying to get tenure at Cornell University and the challenges he faced in the process, which ultimately led to his tenure being denied and him leaving the university. Throughout the approximately dozen institutions of higher education at which he has worked, he finally settled at Oregon State University within Ethnic Studies. He talks about the institutional changes that were in progress and continued once he arrived, including the institutional movement from departments to programs and colleges to schools (to encourage more interdisciplinary work). Throughout the conversation, Dr. Mize details the challenges he and others faced doing critical pedagogical and research work. He details the institution systematically working against the advancements he and other colleagues in the ethnic studies and women, gender, and sexualities studies programs were doing to advance critical feminist and race studies at Oregon State University. Throughout the conversation, Dr. Mize speaks to how women, feminist principles, and feminist leadership impacted the work he has done and continues to do. He intertwines narratives and experiences from growing up with how those moments impact the work he continues to do now. He strives to embody feminist practices and principles in every classroom he is a part of without necessarily labeling himself or his actions in that way. Dr. Mize acknowledges and honors the work and legacy others did within the WGSS program here at Oregon State before he arrived and the work that others continue to do now. While not chronological in narrative, this oral history of how Dr. Mize became affiliated with the WGSS program at Oregon State and is unique in detailing the institutional barriers and successes this program has experienced.

Qwo-Li Driskill Oral History, interviewed by a WGSS Student on May 22, 2023

Interview Available Upon Request

Bio: Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill is an unenrolled Cherokee and Two-Spirit scholar, activist, and artist. Qwo-Li Driskill is an Associate Professor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Oregon State University. They are also the Director of Graduate Studies and Coordinator for Queer Studies in WGSS at OSU. They earned their Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Rhetoric and Writing with a concentration in Cultural Rhetorics. They also hold an M.A. from Antioch University in Whole Systems Design with concentrations in Native Writing, Theater, Story, and Resistance, and a B.A. from University of Northern Colorado in Social Transformation and the Arts. They are the author of two books, Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory, and Walking With Ghosts. They are also the co-editor for Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature and the editor of Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature.

Summary: Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill begins the conversation by providing background information about how they came into their own feminist praxis and the formation of their own feminist ideologies, stemming from their mother, growing up in rural Colorado, queer, and trans organizing, and being influenced by Indigenous feminisms, Black feminisms and Womanisms, Crip and Disability feminisms and Transfeminisms. Dr. Driskill continues the conversation by talking about the importance of looking to queer and trans ancestors who cleared the way for the work they do in WGSS to be possible and to look to their work for answers to current political issues. They talk through the development of Queer Studies at Oregon State University, creating the largest number of course offerings in Trans Studies for graduate education, and the many strengths of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, including that the WGSS graduate program at Oregon State is mostly comprised of queer and trans identifying students.

Mehra Shirazi Oral History, interviewed by Md Tanveer Hossain Anoy on May 22, 2023

Link to the Mehra Shirazi Oral History Interview

Bio: Dr. Mehra Shirazi is a bicultural, bilingual community-engaged scholar with a broad background in health behavior. Their work is grounded in postcolonial feminist scholarship that focuses on health in the global context of race, gender, immigration, and environment. Their particular focus is on health inequities among immigrant/refugee women, specifically on the socio-cultural barriers limiting access to breast health and lifesaving prevention and care through the utilization of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). Shirazi’s scholarship also addresses transnational praxis and pedagogy through critical studies of culture, lived experience, and narratives of decolonization with publications on Muslim mothering, family relationships in Iranian film, anti-racist pedagogy, and gendered Islamophobia. Dr. Shirazi joined the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty in the School of Language, Culture, and Society in 2011.  She was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Some courses they teach include: Global Perspectives on Women’s Health, Violence Against Women, Feminist Research Methods, and Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Health Justice.  In 2017, Dr. Shirazi was awarded Oregon State University’s Frances Dancy Hooks Award, for building bridges across cultures and modeling transformative action.

Summary: A Bonding of Transnational Feminists ~ Oral history has an immense power to uphold the intersectional history of narrative and experience – an unstructured decolonized talk with one of the prominent professors of the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University – Dr. Mehra Shirazi is no stranger to anyone. Their postcolonial approach to working broke and created conversations in academia. Migrating from Iran and earning a Ph.D. wasn’t a smooth journey for Dr. Mehra Shirazi. No matter how qualified they showed to the world, the white power structure always struck her down with questions like – “How women like you, Muslim women like you- who wear a Hijab can contribute to the feminist world?” Who’s the feminist world white people are talking about? The narrative they have created? Who gave the power to say a person can wear this or that- how can ideology be this much segregated? Throughout the interview, Dr. Mehra Shirazi shared how lived experiences helped her to get into her own feminist journey. Dr. Mehra’s decision to migrate wasn’t an easy one; it was more like a forced one. She spoke about her positionality in academia, shared a couple of triggering stories for being targeted as traditional Muslim women, and spoke highly about her stance with antiracist, anticapitalist, and anti-imperialist- although being vocal also comes with a price. Dr. Mehra Shirazi being in the department is a political statement; it gives a very strong intersectional and transnational to the white-dominated culture. Unfortunately, the number of people like her is so low that the journey can be very tough and lonely. As a South Asian, brown, Queer, international student- voices like Dr. Mehra give me strength and hope for greater intersectionality in movement and leadership building. This oral history is a monument of the change, the diversity we have been craving for a long time.

Patti Duncan and Patti Sakurai Oral History, interviewed by Trung Nguyen on May 23, 2023

Link to the Patti Duncan and Patti Sakurai Oral History Interview

Bios: Patti Duncan is a Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University, specializing in women of color feminisms and transnational feminisms. She is the author of Tell This Silence: Asian American Women Writers and the Politics of Speech and numerous articles and essays. She is also the editor of the scholarly journal, Feminist Formations, as well as co-editor of the anthology, Mothering in East Asian Communities: Politics and Practices, co-editor of the textbook, Women Worldwide: Transnational Feminist Perspectives, 2nd edition, and co-editor of the four-volume encyclopedia, Women’s Lives Around the World.  Patti Sakurai is an Associate Professor in Ethnic Studies with teaching and research in critical ethnic studies and Asian American studies. She received her Ph.D. in English from SUNY at Stony Brook and taught at UC Santa Barbara, Colorado College, and Emory University, where she held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship prior to arriving at OSU. Also a filmmaker, her short films engage issues of race and Asian American experiences and have screened at various film festivals in Portland, Seattle, New York City, Hong Kong, and Macau. She was a founding member of the production collective for APA Compass, a monthly public affairs program on KBOO 90.7 FM Portland.

Summary: “Asian/Asian American Feminisms on the OSU Campus” ~ Starting the interview, Nguyen introduces the purpose of this specific issue of OSU Oral History Interview project focusing on the celebration of 50 years anniversary of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program at OSU. Duncan and Sakurai then each introduce themselves before delving into stories of how they first met at Emory University where Sakurai was doing her postdoc while Duncan was working on her doctoral degree. The two continue to share their favorite memories of each other including another graduate student that they had previously co-mentored. Duncan, Sakurai, and Trung then reflects on what it means to be an interdisciplinary or anti-disciplinary programs like WGSS and Ethnic Studies (ES). Duncan and Sakurai next describe what feminism means to each of them. They continue by sharing the roots of their feminisms which stem from their mothers and the feminist authors and books that they read. Both Duncan and Sakurai agree that their feminisms are unapologetically inspired by women of color and Asian/Asian American feminisms. After sharing briefly about their feminist journey at OSU, Duncan and Sakurai expressed both hope and critiques for the status quo of Asian/Asian American Studies at OSU. They move on by sharing the complexity and muddled grouping of Asian American and Pacific Islander in recent political contexts. Nguyen briefly mentions the hope for future interview with Patricia Fifita, a new Ethnic Studies and Indigenous Studies Assistant Professor at OSU, in order to discuss more in depth this identity politics topic. Duncan and Sakurai sum up the significance of feminist leadership that is elevated by Asian & Asian American feminisms on OSU campus. They reflect on how their feminist leadership has changed over time in support of students on campus who need their guidance and feminist practices. Their practice of women of color feminist leadership can at times conflict with institutional barriers that they themselves find creative resistant methods to challenge these obstacles while managing to offer the best support they could for their students. The three, Nguyen included, conclude by staking their hopes for the future of women of color feminist practices and its presence on OSU campus so that Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and other students of color could feel represented and supported for a better and more diverse campus environment.

Whitney Archer and Kali Furman Oral History, interviewed by Elizabeth Kennedy on May 25, 2023

Link to the Whitney Archer and Kali Furman Oral History Interview

Bios: Kali Furman is an Instructor for the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program at Oregon State University. Dr. Furman is a social justice educator with over ten years of experience in higher education providing education, programming, and training for students, staff, and faculty. Research interests in social justice education, feminist pedagogies, faculty development, institutional change, and student activism. Whitney Archer  holds an Ed.M in College Student Services Administration, an M.A. in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, and is a current PhD Candidate in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University. As the Associate Director of Diversity & Cultural Engagement and Director of the Women’s Center at Oregon State University, Whitney provides leadership for the Women’s Center and support for all seven of Cultural Resource Centers. Whitney’s research interests include gender identity and expression, feminist leadership, feminist pedagogy and student activism.

Summary: Using a Story Corp Model, Kennedy poses questions to Whitney Archer and Dr. Kali Furman about feminist leadership and the relationship between the Women, Gender, & Sexualities Studies program and the Women & Gender Center at Oregon State University. Within this interview, they share their thoughts on what feminism means to Archer and Furman, how they each came to find feminism, and in turn how feminism informs their work. In addition to how feminism informs their work now, they discuss how their approach has changed overtime and how that change has been reflected in the relationship between the Women & Gender Center and the Women, Gender & Sexualities Studies program.  Both Archer and Furman discuss what brought them to Oregon State University and some of the experiences they have had in their time at the institution, including challenges they have faced and ways in which they have been strategic in their work.  Archer and Furman speak to how they grappled with the reality of trying to do feminist work in an inherently hierarchical system of higher education and how they have built accountability with each other to strive for congruence between their values and the work they do. As a follow up to their conversation about finding congruence, Archer and Furman discuss how we can move from performative tropes of feminism or social justice in the institution to making meaningful institutional change. They focus on ways they have seen push back against a White liberal feminist leadership framework that positions feminist leadership as the GirlBoss aesthetic. Archer and Furman conclude their conversation by sharing how they hope to see the partnership between the Women & Gender Center and the Women, Gender & Sexualities Studies program grow in the future.

Nana Osei-Kofi Oral History, interviewed by Keara Rodela on May 30, 2023

Link to the Nana Osei-Kofi Oral History Interview

Bio: Nana Osei-Kofi is Director of the Difference, Power, & Discrimination Program/ Associate Professor of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Prior to her appointment at Oregon State University in 2013, Osei-Kofi was Associate Professor and Director of the Social Justice Studies Graduate Certificate Program in the School of Education at Iowa State University. Her areas of scholarly focus include critical and feminist teaching and learning, the politics of American higher education, Black Nordic studies, and visual cultural studies. Journals in which her work has appeared include, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Feminist Formations, Equity & Excellence in Education, Latino Studies, and The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. Her current work includes a book project titled Cultural Production and the Construction of an Afro-Swedish Identity, and several articles on the notion of “ally as identity” within social justice work in higher education. Osei-Kofi serves on the editorial board of Feminist Formations and The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, and is the incoming Vice-President of the National Women’s Studies Association.

Summary: In this oral history with Dr. Nana Osei-Kofi, the conversation begins with Dr. Osei-Kofi sharing about her cultural background, being raised by her Swedish mother and Ghanaian father, living between Ghana and Sweden, and moving to the U.S. when she was in her 20’s. She comes from a family of educators but ended up doing work in non-profits around diversity, equity, and inclusion for many years. She decided she loved education and pursued her Ph.D. in educational studies. During her graduate programs, she found herself in a couple of women’s studies classes, discovered that women’s studies focus on race, class, and sexism, and completed an M.A. in applied women’s studies alongside her Ph.D. Dr. Osei-Kofi worked at Iowa State University before joining OSU as the Director of Difference, Power, & Discrimination. After briefly discussing her background, we discussed how feminism found her. She decided it was best to have her tenure housed in WGSS, where the work she was interested in was happening at OSU. Dr. Osei-Kofi discusses how feminism found her and the feminist authors that informed her practice. Her interest is, and she is invested, in a radical feminist praxis. She is not interested in liberal feminism. She speaks on how feminism is a way of life, and a feminist praxis is part of your life, not just scholarship, “the personal is political.” Next, Dr. Osei-Kofi speaks on how she has engaged with activism and teaching and how feminism gave her language and tools to describe, understand, and make meaning. She speaks about other feminists of color who have influenced her scholarship. As well as mentioned how some of her colleagues and students work, which is equally important. She is intentional and appreciates and cites the work of activities, especially youth. We discuss not limiting your intellectual learning and engagement to the canon because it keeps us in rigidity and does not allow for movement within the community. Speaking of her time at OSU, she shared of her experiences as an administrator and faculty in WGSS. She is describing how her department is unique in how WGSS colleagues engage and each other. She feels that the diversity in disciplines and interests contributes to the lack of direct competition with other colleagues and the support they provide each other in this space. Dr. Osei-Kofi also touches on the challenges of making true institutional change and the resources and policies needed to make the actual changes identified. She felt it was important to talk about how institutions know what to do and they should put their resources where the work needs to be done. We then discuss the status of students of color within WGSS and student and faculty retention. She mentions how the student body in undergraduate mirrors the institution, and it is better in graduate programs, but still not many Black students in either area. Student and faculty retention is impacted by finances as well as the interest of students in social justice activities and activism over the past decade; in addition, by the time graduate students come to WGSS, most folks have an idea of what they want to do within WGSS. We then discuss how her feminist leadership has changed over time. An example she gave was her choosing when she would engage in activities or projects—balancing time and effort as a way to redress burnout in her field and career and recognizing whom we can do the work with, in solidarity, and when it is not possible. Within WGSS, it has played out in how she decides not to take on student defense or independent work outside of her 9-month contract and is transparent with students about why. This connects to taking a stance on doing the work they compensated, not taking on free labor as an institutional issue, and making it clear that it is. Dr. Osei-Kofi discusses an instance where the institution challenged feminist leadership. Then we move into conversations around the institution’s engagement in DEI work surrounding the Gorge Floyd murder and how that engagement did not go as far as hoped. As well as the need for sufficient financial support and power to the DEI leadership team, who is doing good work. Regarding our conversation around DEI, Dr. Osei-Kofi can be heard saying, “We know what to do.” We moved into a conversation about BIPOC faculty experiences within WGSS, the institution, the classroom, and living in Corvallis. This segwayed us into talking about the Difference, Power, & Discrimination (DPD) program in that she is the current director. DPD is a faculty-wide professional development project started based on student activism. It was Black student activism’s push to address racism on campus and, as part of anonymous students’ demands to the institution, curriculum to address racism, bias, and discrimination. It is now part of the general education requirements. It is about introducing scholarships about DPD issues and supporting faculty and graduate teaching assistants to create courses within their schools that address DPD through workshops and extended cohort support. We wrap up with what she was most proud of during her time at OSU, which includes the book published about the DPD program and what she hopes for the program’s future. We discuss Dr. Osei-Kofi’s upcoming retirement as director of DPD and tenure faculty, her future work, and why she chose to do intellectual activism within the academy with like-minded folks. 

Luhui Whitebear Oral History, interviewed by Gabriela Esquivel on May 31, 2023

Link to the Luhui Whitebear Oral History Interview

Bio: Dr. Luhui Whitebear is an enrolled member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation with Huestec and Cochimi ancestry. She is an assistant professor in the School of Language, Culture, and Society (Indigenous Studies) and has served as the Center Director of the Kaku-Ixt Mana Ina Haws at Oregon State University. Institutionally Luhui serves on the core leadership of the President’s Commission on Indigenous Affairs, the Bias Response Team, and on the Faculty Senate representing the College of Liberal Arts. In the community, she serves as the co-chair of the Corvallis School Board, as the Vice President of the OSBA Caucus of Color, on the MMIW USA board, and on the Oregon Women’s Foundation board. Luhui is a mother, poet, and activist engaged in community-based work. Dr. Whitebear received her Ph.D. from Oregon State University (OSU) in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; her MA from OSU in Interdisciplinary Studies; BS degrees from OSU in Anthropology and Ethnic Studies. Her research focuses on California Indigenous studies, Indigenous feminisms, Indigenous rhetorics, Indigenous activism, MMIW, national law & policy, and Indigenous land & water rights.

Summary: “The Intersection of Motherhood, Feminism, and Culture” ~ Dr. Luhui Whitebear describes her journey and experiences with indigenous feminism and how it has shaped her way of life through her indigenous culture, community, and motherhood. She describes the different ways she has experienced feminism in her life and within her motherhood, coming from a long line of resistance and activism it has always been part of who she is and as a mother. Being able to use her voice and carry on her traditions has transcended into her motherhood, passing those cultural values and resiliency to her children. Dr. Luhui Whitebear describes her journey as a single mother while also being a Ph.D. student at Oregon State University and how it has shaped her feminist experiences, her story is a story of resilience, activism, and determination. Giving hope to OSU students who may be in similar situations to never give up. An ice-breaker moment in one of her classes in the Women’s Gender and Sexual Studies Program (WGSS) is when she discovered her dream job which allowed her to dream big. Dr. Luhui Whitebear’s academic scholarship and leadership are shown through the various roles she’s had throughout her journey as an indigenous Ph.D. student, mother, and advisor, she is grateful to her community and WGSS program for providing the support she needed to reach her goals.

WGSS 50th Anniversary Exhibit

Celebrating 50 Years of the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies / Queer Studies Program at Oregon State University

In 2022, Susan Shaw, Professor and former Director of OSU’s Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program asked librarian, Jane Nichols, if The Valley Library would create and host a display of materials celebrating the program’s history. As the librarian for WGSS, she was well-positioned to bring together a team to work on this project. Drawing on OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center holdings, they pieced together WGSS’ history through this exhibit.

For PDFs of the exhibit panels see “50 Years of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Oregon State University” by Chris Snyder and Jane Nichols via ScholarsArchive@OSU.

The WGSS 50th Anniversary exhibit celebrates and documents the growth of the Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies / Queer Studies program from its 1972 beginnings as a feminist reading group to its current success as an academic program with a thriving activist-scholar community. Detailing how the history of WS/WGSS/QS bleeds through to the present, this display highlights activism, community organizing, intersectionality, and the collaborative ethos which has guided the program, the faculty, and the students in their work both inside and outside of the classroom. Interviews, scholarship, zines, and art express the academic vigor and creativity of WGSS/QS faculty, alumni, and students across the years. Reflecting on WGSS/QS’ journey as a burgeoning discipline at OSU, the posters and accompanying book display explore the program’s ongoing commitment to tackling multifaceted societal injustices and look forward to the ways in which the program will continue to expand on and nuance the revolutionary energy of the early program leaders.

All are welcome to view the exhibit and check out books from the accompanying display, both located on the 5th Floor Alcove across from the Special Collections Special Collections and Archives Research Center.

Our work and this display take place on the Oregon State University Corvallis, Oregon campus, which is located in the traditional territory of the Chepenefa (“Mary’s River”) band of the Kalapuya. Through this display we wish to create space for us the contributors and you the readers to interrogate understandings of this location’s history where after the Kalapuya Treaty (Treaty of Dayton) in 1855, Kalapuya people were forcibly removed to what are now the Grand Ronde and Siletz reservations. The Kalapuya are now members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

We extend our appreciation to all who contributed to this project including OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center staff Rachel Lilley and Anna Dvorak; OSULP librarian Jane Nichols and graphic designers Rox Beecher and Robin Weis; and interviewees Dr. Qwo-Li Driskill, Dr. Susan Shaw, Kryn Freehling-Burton, and Sujittra Avery Carr. Extra gratitude goes to Chris Snyder, School of Writing, Literature, and Film Graduate Teaching Assistant who authored much of the writing of the exhibit. This exhibit would not be possible without their collective contributions.

Friday Feature: new display “Woman Citizen: Past, Present, & Future”

New display on the 5th floor of the Valley Library

In honor of women’s history month, we celebrate both student work and the history of women in Oregon in a new display on the 5th floor of the Valley Library.

“Woman Citizen: Past, Present, & Future,” curated by Chloe Tull and Matthew Gaddis (both students in a fall 2012 “Women and Politics in American History” class), focuses on the research process and experiences, with descriptions of the projects, quotes from classmates, and pictures of their time in the Special Collections & Archives reading room.

Work on his class began in the summer of 2012, when Professor Marisa Chappell and Archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton started talking about two events happening the following fall, both of which directly involved women, history, and Oregon.

The first was “Woman Citizen: Past, Present, and Future,” a series of events to commemorate the centennial of woman suffrage in Oregon (1912-2012) by fostering education and discussion about women’s history and the gendered dimensions of citizenship, and also by encouraging civic and political engagement at OSU and in the Corvallis/Benton County community.

The second was a “Women and Politics in American History” course. This special topics course was a part of the Woman Citizen Project and gave students the opportunity to employ the skills they have learned in their other history courses to complete an original research project, with the goal of creating lessons on women’s history to bring into local schools. Their major product was an original historical interpretation in the form of a history curriculum for high school students. Each student chose one of three topics in twentieth century United States political history: women’s peace movement, women’s suffrage, and Title IX. They read historical scholarship on that topic and conducted research in primary historical documents. While there are materials pertaining to Ava Helen Pauling’s peace activism in the “Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers” housed at the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC), Professor Chappell knew that there were two collections at the University of Oregon and Oregon Historical Society that offered exciting research experiences for the other two topics. We arranged to borrow portions of the Abigail Scott Duniway Collection for those researching Suffrage activity in Oregon (UO) and the Edith Green Papers for those researching gender equality and Title IX (OHS). While all three groups produced lessons, only the “Women’s Suffrage: In Oregon and Beyond” group presented theirs.

We know that working with historical materials creates a learning experience that is both relevant and meaningful for students; it also allows students to develop a critical and comprehensive understanding of history in a way they may not have experienced before. Both of these have a direct positive impact on student learning. This display celebrates that work and encourages others to dive in, open some boxes, and share what they’ve learned!

Want to see more pictures of students in the Special Collections & Archives doing their fabulous research work? Check out the Flickr set “Fall 2012: students in the archives!”

Want to read about some of the special women who have made an impact on our life here at OSU? We have a plethora of blog posts just for you

We have a special visitor…

Some may have heard that we’ll be celebrating the 100 year anniversary of women’s voting in Oregon in a few weeks. Some may also know that we have some great neighbors in this neck of the archives woods!

Edith Green Collection — all boxed up

Last week I picked up 5 boxes at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library from the Edith Green Collection so students in Dr. Marisa Chappell’s Women in Politics class could get their hands on the real stuff of history.

In case you don’t know about Edith Green, I recommend taking some time to get to know her history. For more, I turned to The Oregon Encyclopedia site.

Democrat Edith Starrett Green represented Oregon’s 3rd Congressional District from 1955 through 1974. During her twenty years in the U.S. House of Representatives, she gained a national reputation for her leadership in shaping federal education policy and her advocacy for equal rights for women. She was known for her independence, tenacity, and ability.

Want to know even more about Green? You’ll find some good information and external sources by perusing the Wikipedia article on Green and by reading the Women in Congress article on Green.

Want to know more about the collection? Check out the Guide to the Edith Green Papers (1955-1975) on NWDA.

Women of OSU!

What do Callahan Hall, The Mercedes A. Bates Family Study Center, Snell Communications and Craft Center, Kidder Hall, Milam Hall, Waldo Hall, and Carrie Halsell Hall all have in common? These campus buildings were all named after seven extraordinary women who attended or worked at OSU.

Want to know more? Come see the display in the 3rd Floor Archives Reading Room and check out the Digital Collection in Flickr!

Want to learn more? Contact Oregon Multicultural Librarian Natalia Fernández at

Exhibit curated by OSU University Archives Student Worker Kelsey Ockert.

Ruth Nomura

Thanks “vintagepix”!

This beautiful & beguiling photo has graced the cover of our Oregon Multicultural Archives brochure, but when I tried to research Ruth Nomura for our International Womens Day set for Flickr Commons, I couldn’t find a thing … We knew the picture had been taken by an OSU photographer, John Garman, but basically we knew nothing about the context.

Who was she? Why did Garman take her photo? Was she a student? Where was the photo taken?

And so it remained one of those clichéd mysteries… Until “vintagepix” asked this question: “Any chance the name might be Nomura?” It was a great afternoon in the Archives, with staff scurrying around and clapping, pulling yearbooks off the shelves, retrieving student academic records, and really just smiling.

Because we were able to find her in the yearbooks, combined with the leads of “vintagepix,” we’ve pieced this little bit of her life together. She was born in 1907 in Portland, and was one of the first Japanese Americans born in Oregon. She graduated from Jefferson High School in 1924. According to the Japanese American Citizens League, Twin Cities chapter obituary for Nomura, “In 1926, as a winner of an essay contest for Nisei students, she traveled by steamship to Japan. She wrote that this trip ‘enriched my life and gave me a deep appreciation of Japan, its people, arts and civilization. It encouraged me to study the language, flower arrangement, holiday festivals, the tea ceremony, daily customs, Japanese cooking and serving, music, arts and crafts, particularly pottery, painting and calligraphy.’”

Then she came to OSC, as “the first Nisei woman from Portland to enroll in what is now Oregon State University.” She lived in Margaret Snell Hall all 4 years and graduated in 1930 with a BS in Home Economics.

Ruth Nomura

And, I tell you she was quite active on campus! Look at this list, it will make most feel like under-achievers.

  • Omicron Nu, secretary: National honorary fraternity in Home Economics, which was established at Michigan State college in 1912 and installed at OSC in 1919. “Its purpose is to further science in all extensive branches of home economics.”
  • Phi Kappa Phi: National all-college scholastic honor society, which was established at OSC in June, 1924. “The purpose of this society is to emphasize scholarship among college students, and to stimulate mental achievement by the honor of selection to membership. This society stands for the unity and democracy of learning.”
  • Kappa Delta Pi: “The purpose of Kappa Delta Pi is to foster higher professional and scholarship standards during the period of preparation for teaching, and to recognize outstanding service in the field of education.”
  • Clara H. Waldo prize, honorable mention
  • Cosmopolitan Club, vice-president: “The Cosmopolitan Club was formed to promote brotherhood and place humanity above all nations. Each year the club gives an International banquet. Meetings are every other week.”

And so … She left OSC in 1930 … But where did she go?

Again, turning to the obituary posted on the Japanese American Citizens League site we find an answer. She married Earl Tanbara at the Centenary Wilber Methodist Church in Portland, on September 16, 1935. When World War II, and relocation, began the Tanbara’s were living in Berkeley, CA. In 1942, they moved from Berkeley to a farm in Reedley, CA, in an attempt to avoid wartime internment. According to Earl Tanbara’s obituary, “[t]he bad news was that the boundaries for relocating individuals of Japanese ancestry were moved further inland and they were facing relocation. The good news was that the U.S. Army officer who visited the farm to inform them of the need to move to an assembly center was a former high school classmate of Ruth from Portland. The officer offered them an opportunity to move anywhere East if they had friends who would accept them. They contacted friends in Minneapolis and they were placed on a military train headed for the Twin Cities … Earl and Ruth assisted over a 100 evacuees to leave camp and find a place in the Twin Cities.” Ruth wrote, “Our main assignment was to build community acceptance. So each week, Earl and I were invited to different church groups, youth groups, schools, colleges and farming communities to give talks on Japanese Americans … As there were only 10 Japanese families living in St. Paul before the war, many Minnesotans were not acquainted with Americans citizens of Japanese extraction.”

At the end of the war, they decided to stay in Minnesota and in 1953, Ruth received her master’s degree in home economics from the University of Minnesota — as one of the first second generation women to earn a graduate degree. There is a letter in her OSC student file from 1953, written by her thesis advisor in Minnesota, with this wonderful quote: “I have never known anyone who was so versatile and could do well so many different things—from arranging flowers to organizing programs for the YWCA; from teaching foreign foods to writing publicity material. She is a charming, gracious person.”

What else do we know now? She was the Adult Education Director and International YWCA Program Director for the St. Paul YWCA from 1942 to 1972. She directed the participation of Japanese Americans in the first Festival of Nations in 1947, was one of the founding members in 1955 of the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee (serving as president of the board from 1966-1972), and was a charter member of the Japan America Society when it was formed in 1972 and served on its board of directors. Ruth was a longtime member of Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul, where she arranged flowers for Sunday morning services for more than 35 years, and the Japanese Garden at the YWCA on Kellogg Blvd. is named in her honor.

Ruth Tanbara passed away Jan. 4, 2008, at age 100. A small collection of her personal papers are available at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Celebrating the Women of OSU

moving-dorm.jpg Women's Basketball, 1898

Over the last 3 weeks, we’ve written blog posts on the 15 women featured in the “OSU Archives Celebrates International Women’s Day” set in our Flickr Commons account (+ 2 bonus posts about Ida Kerr and Harriet Moore).

You can learn more about IWD on the “International Women’s day 2009” page.

You can see the images we chose on our osu.commons IWD set page. You can also view all the IWD images in the Commons on this page.
You can learn more about the Women’s Center at OSU by visiting them online or in person (they are in the Benton Annex, adjacent to the Valley Library). They have a great “Women in Herstory and Education” section on their Resources page.

You can learn more about sources of U.S. and global women’s history on “Women’s History,” a site developed and maintained by the Women’s Studies Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. Also check out their “Archival Sites for Women’s Studies” page.

Back where we started: Back to the beginning of the OSU Archives

harriet-moore.jpg harriet-moore-3.jpg harriet-moore-2.jpg

It seems fitting that the last post to celebrate some of the women of OSU would be one for Harriet Moore, the first University Archivist. Actually, there’s no need for a new post — we’ve written about her before (March 2007, to be precise)! But people have a way of researching, and if they didn’t keep thinking, digging, and writing about the past archives would be a pretty sad place …

And Moore was dedicated to preserving and sharing our history. You’ll find her name on articles about Benton County, her research in historic timelines of the Willamette Valley, her quotes in the details of homes in the Oregon Inventory of Historic Places. She was thorough, exact, and passionate.
Read Theresa Hogue’s article “A love of graveyards unearths lost history,” October 2008, to learn more about Moore’s work with the Winema Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Check out the Benton County Historical Society page “Applegate Trail South: Corvallis to Yoncalla,” part of the A Chronology of the Old Oregon-California Trail series, for a timeline compiled by Moore and Kenneth Munford.

Thanks Mrs. Kidder!

Ida Kidder in Wickermobile Wickermobile parked in front of campus building Women with the

Fortunately, though we have written blog posts for all the women pictured in our “OSU Archives Celebrates International Women’s Day March 8th!” set in Flickr Commons, there are still a couple of important ladies worth mentioning… Who could exclude Mrs. Ida A. Kidder, the beloved first librarian at Oregon State College?

Larry Landis, University Archivist, wrote a great piece on the establishment of OSU’s Library for the OSU Alumni Association, which includes details on the coming of Kidder in 1908. It is worth the read to learn even more!

In 1899, when the first non-student college librarian, Arthur J. Stimpson, was appointed there were 3,000 books and 5,000 pamphlets and bulletins listed in the college catalog. During his two years as librarian, Stimpson adopted the Dewey decimal system for cataloging books and improved the system for loaning books. Lewis W. Oren and R. J. Nichols proceeded Stimpson, running the library from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and averaging a daily circulation of 25 books. And then came Ida Kidder! In July 1908, Kidder was appointed as OAC’s first professionally trained librarian; her arrival marked a period of unparalleled growth.

After her husband’s death, Kidder entered library school at the University of Illinois and received her degree in 1906 at the age of 51. Six months after assuming her position as head librarian, Kidder compiled a report for president William Jasper Kerr on the “present condition” of the college library. She noted 7,180 general and reference books, 5,000 government documents, and 10,000 pamphlets. At that time, the reading room was housed on the second floor of the Administration Building (Benton Hall) and could accommodate 108 students, while two other rooms held the library’s actual collection.

Kidder led a twelve year period of growth unmatched in the library’s history: the library’s holdings increased several fold, its staff increased from one position to nine, and Kidder both planned and oversaw the construction of a new 57,000 square-foot library building. This construction was well-timed, by 1912 the library occupied the entire second floor and chairs in the reading room were hard to come by!

The OAC Board of Regents successfully lobbied the 1917 Oregon Legislative Assembly for $158,000 to construct the new library building. Designed by Portland architect John V. Bennes, the building boasted space for the book collection, as well as a large reading room, library offices, three departments, and the college museum. The building was ready in the fall of 1918, and because of the wartime labor shortage, moving was a group effort. Faculty of all ranks and students all pitched in to move the library collection from the Administration Building to the new building, using a wooden causeway built between the buildings. The last books were moved in on October 30, 1918. Appropriately, it was named Kidder Hall in 1963.

During Kidder’s tenure, the library maintained a balanced general collection of books, but also developed notable collections in agriculture, home economics, and the history of horticulture. At the time of her death the library was a depository for federal publications, subscribed to several hundred periodicals, received the transactions of several hundred learned and technological societies, and maintained a large reference collection. And look where we are today …

Kidder experienced health problems later in her life and began using an electric cart (affectionately dubbed the Wickermobile) to get around on campus. You’ll see several shots of this cart at the top of this post. Ida Kidder died in Corvallis on February 28, 1920. We thank Ida Kidder for all her work!

Beautiful images, complex histories, missing details…

woman-tipi-children.jpg indian-chiefs-tipis.jpg woman-entrance-tipi.jpg

This is another image that tells a story; unfortunately, we can only guess the plot.

Here’s what we know: the picture was taken by Benjamin Gifford around 1900. It’s likely that it was taken in Eastern Oregon, probably at the Pendleton Round-up.

Benjamin was well-known for his images of Native Americans, scenic views of the Columbia River and the Columbia River Highway, and views of central Oregon and Portland areas, publishing Art Work of Oregon in 1900 and a view book entitled Snap Shots on the Columbia in 1902.

You can read more about the Giffords on the collection page and see a list of Benjamin Gifford’s images on the finding aid for the photo collection.

You can see images taken by Ralph Gifford when he was stationed on Whiddy Island, Ireland, by visiting our osu.archives Flickr set.

And, as always, if you know more tell us!