Category Archives: Women in History

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!

Ruth Namuro and John Garman, the life in autochrome

In the humblest of opinions, this is one of the most stunning photos we have. The colors, details, simplicity, and peace are incredible. What do we know about the subject, Ruth Namuro? Not much, which is a shame because there is a undoubtedly a back-story to the image we see here. Instead, we’ll focus on John Garman, the photographer.

Here’s the condensed version of what you’ll find on the John Garman biography page, which accompanies a great online exhibit of some of his other photographs.

John Garman was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1896, though his family moved to Portland when he was two. After graduating from Benson Polytechnic High School in 1916, Garman enrolled at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC). According to an oral history interview with Garman, he and a friend made a bicycle trip from Portland to Corvallis in 1917, where they enrolled at OAC. The funny part of the story is that they had intended to travel to Eugene to enroll at the University of Oregon, but the two decided that they had traveled far enough for that trip. Though for those who’ve ridden the rest of the way, the trip down Hwy 99 from Corvallis to Eugene can be quite beautiful …

He began his studies in Electrical Engineering, specializing in telephony, though he also an accomplished musician (the b flat clarinet being his instrument of choice. However, as life often does, Garman took a detour after his first year at OAC: he entered the Army and was sent to service in WWI. While enlisted, he served as an instructor, training recruits in basic marching and drill. Really, it was lucky for all of us who enjoy his photography that he enlisted, because it was in the Army that Garman picked up his camera. Although he had been given a camera as a child, he didn’t take a serious interest in photography until an Army friend reintroduced him to it while they were in camp.

After WWI, he returned to OAC and began taking elective courses in photography from R.W. Uphoff, was involved in some of the early work on synchronous flash devices, and some early work in commercial applications of color photography. He was also a member of the OAC band and orchestra, manager of the band his junior and senior years, and a member of Kappa Kappa Psi (the Music honors society). In the meantime, Garman continued his studies in electrical engineering, founding the OAC chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, the Electrical Engineering honors society, and serving as the first president of OAC’s chapter. He graduated with a B.S. in Physics, with honors, in 1922.

After graduation, Garman spent the summer working for the Western Electric Co. in their telephony division. He returned to OAC as a part-time instructor in Engineering. R. W. Uphoff left OAC that year to pursue his own photography, and  Garman was hired in September 1923 to replace him as instructor of Photography in the Physics Department — this was a position he held until his retirement in 1966. Garman concentrated on the practical aspects of photography, believing the purpose of photography was “to make accurate and usable records of how things worked, and how they were built, and what they were for, and how they were adapted to their use …”

Without this practical-minded approach to photography, OSU might never have created its Photographic Services. Because of his photography talents, Garman had become well-known and sought after by the OAC faculty. It was Garman, working with Ed Yunker, who created the Photo Services in 1924 when they realized that their work taking pictures for other departments was interfering with their ability to do the work for which the college had actually hired them.

As an instructor, John Garman didn’t simply teach students how to point a camera at something and push a button; he insisted that his students understand the optics of a camera, the geometry of using lenses and of composition, and the chemistry of films and printing processes. He said this of of photography: “Processes are being continually changed and improved and if you don’t have a basic understanding of them the first change licks you. So, we found it advisable to teach people basic understandings of photography. Not, just training.”

He retired in 1966, after 45 years of teaching photography; however, in 1969, when the decision was made to move the instruction of photography to the Art Department, Garman was the natural choice to help the new caretakers of photography set up classes and labs — so he returned…

It wasn’t all electrical engineering and pictures: in 1925, Garman married Florence Goff, and they had three children. Garman passed away in November of 1989.