March and April 2020 guides to SCARC collections

These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, our website, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”).   I have provided a link below to the guide in Archon.  Links to the guides in Archives West and the catalog are available on the a-d slack channel.

  • Six of these guides are for collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described.
  • One of the guides is for an essentially new collection that was formed from a substantial donation received in 2017 that was added to earlier smaller transfers received in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
  • One of the guides is an update to reflect a major addition to the collection.

All of these materials will be available to researchers when SCARC resumes full reference services.

Finding aids for a new collection received since 2015:

T.J. Starker Papers, circa 1890-1996 (MSS Starker)

Starker earned an undergraduate degree in forestry from Oregon Agricultural College in 1910 and returned to campus in 1922 to assume a faculty position in the School of Forestry. At OSC, Starker worked as an instructor and researcher until 1942, when he left to pursue his private forestry and nursery business fulltime. The company formed by Starker, Starker Forests, Inc., continues to operate today as a family-owned business. Starker died in 1983.

The T.J. Starker Papers consist of materials generated and collected by alumnus, forestry professor, and timber businessman Thurman James (T.J.) Starker. This collection documents Starker’s forestry instruction and research at Oregon State College, management of a diverse range of property holdings, involvement in community and professional organizations, family life, student experience, work with the United States Forest Service, and writings on various subjects. Among the materials included in this collection are correspondence, lecture notes, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, maps, photographs, research data, and scrapbooks.

Finding aids for collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

Haskell C. and Sarah E. Carter Memoir, 1982 (MSS Carter)

The Haskell C. and Sarah E. Carter Memoir was written by Haskell C. Carter and documents his upbringing, college experience, marriage to Sarah Eidal, career, travels, and family.  Haskell Carter graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1923 with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering.

Pete Dunlop Papers, 1852-2020 (MSS Dunlop)

The Pete Dunlop Papers consists of both born digital materials and electronic copies, which were assembled by Dunlop in the course of researching and writing the book Portland Beer: Crafting the Road to Beervana. Dunlop is a Portland resident and has an active blog calledBeervana Buzz where he talks about Oregon’s micro breweries.

Florence Gradon Scrapbook, 1920-1926 (MSS Gradon)

The Florence Gradon Scrapbook was assembled by alumna Florence Gradon and is comprised of materials that document her student experience at Oregon Agricultural College. Gradon graduated from OAC in 1924 with a degree in home economics.

Heart of the Valley Homebrewers Records, 1982-2004 (MSS HOTV)

The Heart of the Valley Homebrewers Records are comprised of a wide variety of materials that document the club’s activities and outreach. The Heart of the Valley Homebrewers club was founded in Corvallis, Oregon in 1982.

William F. Herrin Papers, 1872-1910 (MSS Herrin)

The William F. Herrin Papers consist of an essay and several orations written and delivered by Herrin.  William Franklin Herrin graduated from Corvallis College in 1873 with a B.S. in Agriculture.

Leander N. Liggett Papers, 1869-1873 (MSS Liggett)

The Leander N. Liggett Papers are made up of two school composition journals containing essays written by alumnus Liggett as a student at Corvallis College. Liggett attended Corvallis College from 1869 to 1873.

Finding aid for a collection with major addition:

Buena Maris Mockmore Papers, 1916-2010 (MSS Mockmore)

The Buena Maris Mockmore Papers consist of materials created and assembled by Buena Margason Maris Mockmore Steinmetz documenting her life and work, both at Oregon State College (OSC) and Iowa State University, and her work for the Manhattan Project. Mockmore earned a Master of Science degree in Home Economics at OSC in 1939, and taught family relations and child development at Oregon State until 1941, when she became Dean of Women, a position she held until 1948. In 1943, Mockmore was asked to serve as the “Director of Women’s Activities” at the Manhattan Project site in Hanford, Washington, and took a yearlong leave of absence from OSC.

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.

Early Disease Epidemics in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

This post is the last in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic was well documented, in part because of broad newspaper coverage, photography, and advances in medical science. Despite the pandemic’s detrimental effect in Oregon, where tens of thousands of people became ill and more than 3,600 succumbed, earlier disease outbreaks and pandemics proportionally had a greater impact, especially among Native communities. Most major diseases ravaged Oregon and the Pacific Northwest at one time or another in the late 18th and 19th centuries, including smallpox, malaria, measles, influenza, cholera and typhoid fever. Some of the diseases recurred periodically, sometimes on an annual basis.

Costume of a Callapuya Indian, 1841, by Alfred T. Agate

Although disease was common among the mostly white emigrants on the Oregon Trail, historian William Lang has concluded that most outbreaks occurred prior to their arrival at Ft. Laramie in Wyoming. Many of the disease outbreaks in the late 18th and early 19th centuries transformed into epidemics that decimated the region’s Native populations, due to their lack of immunity because of no prior exposure. It is estimated that between about 1780 and 1850, 97 percent of Oregon’s Native population perished due to introduced diseases. Anthropologist Robert T. Boyd estimated that the population of two western Oregon Native groups, the Chinookan and the Kalapuyan peoples, declined from a pre-contact population of 32,000 to approximately 2,100 by the late 1830s. By the 1850s, disease outbreaks and epidemics had reduced Native populations to a fraction of their pre-contact numbers. However, many chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis, continued to affect the survivors in those communities.

According to Boyd’s Oregon Encyclopedia essay on disease in Native communities, a smallpox epidemic around 1781 was the first documented in Oregon. The documentation included oral tradition from the Clatsop Tribe on Oregon’s north coast and entries in the journals of Lewis and Clark noting pockmarked people in various Native communities. It is likely that this smallpox epidemic spread among many indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest. 

Subsequent smallpox epidemics occurred almost each decade through 1870. A smallpox epidemic in 1853 struck the lower Columbia River region, wiping out as much as half the Native population in some communities. It was the last major epidemic among Native communities, as those populations had already suffered enormous population decline over the previous seventy years. Among non-Native communities, a smallpox epidemic in 1862 was particularly hard on the Aurora Colony. Jacksonville experienced a significant smallpox outbreak in 1868-69, and in 1870 western Oregon experienced a smallpox epidemic.

Jason Lee’s mission, established 1834 near Salem, Visual Instruction Department Lantern Slides, 1900-1940 (P 217)

Outbreaks and epidemics of malaria, called “fever and ague,” in the early 1830s may have been even more virulent and destructive to Native communities than smallpox. It also greatly affected the Anglo population in the area; at one point in 1830, seventy-five people at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Vancouver were ill with the disease, though proportionately far fewer died than among the Native population in the region. In 1832 a malaria outbreak at the fort affected an estimated 137 out of 140 people, though few apparently died.  Malaria also affected the Willamette Mission near Salem, established in the mid-1830s. Boyd speculates that the malaria epidemics of the 1830s may have been accompanied by influenza, possibly accounting for the high mortality rate since pneumonia is a complication of both diseases. An influenza epidemic in 1836 on the central Oregon coast and an 1844 outbreak of dysentery on the Lower Columbia also took many lives in Native communities. 

A major measles epidemic in the Pacific Northwest in 1847-48 ravaged the Cayuse Tribe in the mid-Columbia River region, especially its children. This epidemic had a connection to the Whitman Massacre at Waiilatpu in the Walla Walla Valley in 1847, as it is thought that Marcus Whitman was killed by a band of Cayuse because of his inability to cure tribal members of the disease. The epidemic affected Native communities as far north as Sitka, in present-day Alaska, and south into the Willamette Valley.  This was the first recorded measles epidemic in the Pacific Northwest, though the disease may have been present in the region as early as 1812.

The last major pandemic of the 19th century was an influenza pandemic in 1889-90. It was commonly called “La grippe” and later known as the “Russian influenza.” An estimated 1 million people succumbed to it worldwide, 13,000 in the U.S. It appeared in Oregon in December 1889, with initial newspaper reports of outbreaks in Astoria, Portland, Pendleton and Albany.  Statistics for Oregon on the extent of the disease, the number of people affected, or the number of deaths are not known. The 1889-90 pandemic was a foreshadowing of what was to come less than twenty years later.

For additional reading on epidemics in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest among Native communities, see Boyd’s Oregon Encyclopedia essay, “Disease Epidemics among Indians, 1770s-1850s” and his Oregon Historical Quarterly article, “The Pacific Northwest Measles Epidemic of 1847-1848” (Vol. 95, no. 1, Spring 1994).

This post was contributed by Larry Landis, Director of Special Collections and Archives. Larry Landis is the director of OSU’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center, and has worked as an archivist at OSU since 1991. He is the author of A School for the People: A Photographic History of Oregon State University. Larry is retiring from OSU on July 1.

The “Spanish” Flu On Campus

This post is the fourth in a series on the effects of the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

Corvallis citizens saying goodbye to OAC cadets, circa 1918, Oregon State University Military Photographs Collection, 1875-1975 (P 002)

As Oregon Agricultural College students began to arrive back on campus for the start of classes in October 1918, the “Spanish” Flu had not yet arrived in Corvallis, but measures were in place to take care of sick students and to help prevent the spread of the virus.  The presence of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) on OAC’s campus greatly affected the efficiency of caring for sick students, which in turn encouraged Corvallis to follow suit.

SATC field maneuvers and mock battle west of Corvallis, Harriet’s Photograph Collection, 1868-1996 (P HC)

Tracking of cases on the college campus started Tuesday October 1, 1918, the day classes commenced.  The “Report of the College Health Service” in the College Biennial Report of the Board of Regents, 1916-1918, gives an excellent narrative of how the epidemic was controlled on campus, especially among the SATC cadets.  1918 was the first year that treatment was split based on gender.  Male students who fell ill were treated by a medical officer and dentist attached to the SATC, and 8 local physicians.  With the campus Medical Adviser, Dr. Wendell J. Phillips, away on medical leave, female students on the other hand, were treated by the resident nurse, Amy Cyrus, who saw patients in her offices on the ground floor of the Home Economics building and at students’ residences.  From October through December, she attended to 159 cases of “Spanish influenza” and there were no female deaths reported on campus.  The “Report” attributed her success to her efforts to prevent the disease in the first place by teaching students to diagnose the symptoms of the flu, and to protect themselves from it.  As a whole, OAC suffered a total of 785 cases, with only 4 deaths at the end of 1918.

The flu, naturally, impacted student life as well.  Student activities were cancelled or suspended and interactions were limited.  However, despite the restrictions, the football game on October 12, 1918 was allowed to proceed as scheduled.  But others later in the season were played without an audience.  And come spring, the impact of the flu on the basketball season was a major concern.  In the 1920 Beaver yearbook, which covers the 1918-1919 academic year, the Vigilance Committee commended the Freshman class for having shown “a fine spirit of willingness and helpfulness toward the institution and its customs” despite having lost three months of college life due to the cancelation of activities in the Fall 1918 term.

On October 11, the Gazette-Times announced that there were no cases of influenza in Corvallis and OAC students were being given medical attention at the first signs of colds or grippe in order to monitor for development of influenza.  However, the SATC reports paint a different story.  During the second week of classes, the cases numbered close to 200 and an appeal was made for expert medical assistance.  

The third floor of Waldo had been converted into a thirty bed infirmary for male students, similar measures had been taken to isolate sick female students as well.  Courses in hygiene and pharmacy adapted and added lectures in the management of colds and grippe, and also the nature of the Spanish flu.  Sororities and fraternities were closed to visitors, and house mothers received training and supplies to care for their female students.  Any student with a cold was instructed to stay home and not attend any classes.  

In early November, US Major Cross of the medical corps attributed the relative success of the Corvallis epidemic to “above average intelligence” and a successful newspaper education campaign.  At that time, there were only 2 deaths out of 400 cases in Corvallis and 4 deaths out of 600 on campus.  This success was emphasized by the satisfaction of a state official who visited campus after complaints that the school was still operating.  However, when he inspected campus and looked at the statistics, he allowed the college to stay in operation.  In his final report about his visit at OAC, Major Cross reported “that the epidemic had been more successfully controlled at the Oregon Agricultural College than at any center of military training in the country where an equal number of men were concerned.”

By early January 1919, Corvallis reported a decrease in the number of cases reported, despite rumors that there were new cases and the town would have to be quarantined.  On January 9, it was reported that no deaths had occurred since December 26.  But there seems to have been a spike in mid- to late-January 1919 that made it necessary to use Shepard Hall on OAC campus as a hospital, which opened on January 11, 1919.  This was due to a shortage of nurses and the difficulty of isolating students in dorms and other living communities such as sororities or fraternities.  Although beds were provided, students had to provide their own linens in the hospital.  By the 13th, 19 more cases were reported, bringing the total to 51, but officials maintained that there was no need to worry about the increase.

February continued to see impacts to life on campus.  Although the demobilization of troops was a bright spot, a second quarantine prevented a return to normal and an impact on the college basketball season.  Later in the month, there was also no indoor memorial service for college librarian Ida Kidder, who passed on February 28, 1919, because of the influenza epidemic.  Instead, a memorial service was held in the open space in front of the library and she laid in state in the main corridor of the library on March 2.

As the epidemic subsided, thoughts turned to the future.  Due to the need for nurses demonstrated by the pandemic, OAC began offering home nursing classes spring term 1919.

This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.

The “Spanish” Flu in Corvallis

This post is the third in a series on the effects of the “Spanish” Flu pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

The course of illness in Corvallis and on the Oregon Agricultural Campus campus was more contained than in other regions of the state, especially the larger city of Portland.  Corvallis took measures to limit gatherings before Portland and OAC had wards set up to isolate sick students.  The presence of the Students’ Army Training Corps (SATC) on OAC’s campus greatly affected the efficiency of caring for sick students, which in turn encouraged Corvallis to follow suit.

In late September 1918, just as OAC students were arriving in Corvallis to start their classes in October, Benton county residents were requested to contact their local health officer, H. S. Pernot, on the authority of the Surgeon General of the United States if they exhibited symptoms of the flu.  This measure was enacted to create as little impact on war work as possible and help prevent the epidemic from spreading.  However, more extreme measures were not put in place.

Postcard reading “Train loads of students arrive at O. A. C. September 28, 1918,” G. Herbert Fredell Photographic Collection, 1918-1919 (P 204)

The Spanish Flu was first mentioned in the Gazette-Times in relation to practices troops overseas were implementing to combat the flu on August 20, 1918.  The first Corvallis death would come a month later when Mrs. Vena Rickard Clark, a former Corvallis resident who called Portland home, succumbed to the virus on September 28 while visiting New York City.  It was believed she had contracted the flu while sightseeing in Boston.

As of October 11, the Gazette-Times announced that there were no cases of influenza in Corvallis and OAC students were being given medical attention at the first signs of colds or grippe in order to monitor for development of influenza.  On the 14th, the Gazette-Times announced that with the situation under control, the number of cases of influenza were decreasing.  The SATC Commander Colonel A. C. Sharp found the situation very encouraging and elaborated that it did not even compare to “real epidemics” he had witnessed.  A census of nurses already planned to be completed by Christmas, was fast tracked in order to supply the War Department with the numbers of nurses available for future need.

A week later on Saturday October 19,  a Gazette-Times article announced that churches and schools would be closed starting the next day and although more information was not available yet, the situation looked promising.  They reported only several cases in Corvallis and the campus was “very much better.”  Most of the cases in Corvallis at that time seemed to be downtown.  The newspaper advised “To sit tight, keep cool, and spray.”  

Albany and the rest of Linn County followed suit on November 2, 1918, when they closed schools on orders from the State that all schools be closed.  At the time, they reported having no deaths due to the flu. 

On November 8, 1918, Major Cross of the United States’ Medical Corps, attributed the relative success of the Corvallis epidemic to “above average intelligence” and a successful newspaper education campaign.  At that time, there were only 2 deaths out of 400 cases in Corvallis and 4 deaths out of 600 on campus.  

After the middle of November, the intensity of the epidemic began to weaken. It was fortunate that was the case, since the official announcement of the armistice on November 11 caused jubilant rejoicing and plans for a large celebration in Portland on the 16th.  But this rejoicing and groups celebrating the end of the war brought on another wave of the flu.

Corvallis Gazette-Times, December 5, 1918

The city of Corvallis locked down in early December and instituted a ban on “unnecessary gatherings,” which was very loosely defined and understood to allow for school attendance and businesses to keep their doors open.  The city wanted to make sure the flu would not impact Christmas celebrations and “In the meantime, the public is advised to take care of itself, sit tight and to investigate all rumors before passing them on.” 

By early January 1919, Corvallis reported a decrease in the number of cases reported, despite rumors that there were new cases and the town would have to be quarantined.  On January 9, the Gazette-Times reported that no deaths had occurred since December 26.  But there seems to have been a spike soon after this report in mid- to late-January 1919 that made it necessary to shut the town down again.  At this time, City Health Officer Dr. R. L. Bosworth printed reports about homes under quarantine, with addresses, but did not list the numbers of residents infected.  The reports did note that many times whole homes were sick, so the number sick was much greater than the number of homes under quarantine.

Corvallis fared much better than other places and those in quarantine were less than 1% of the total population.  However, cases continued to be reported, and more and more homes were placed under quarantine than were released.  Residents were encouraged to do all that they could to “stamp out the disease.”  On January 17, the city council voted to close the town, which would include closing schools, churches, theaters, and pool and dance halls.  It was also reported that there were no recent deaths from the flu and there were plans to establish a hospital at the Evangelical Bible School in hopes of copying the college’s success in isolating flu cases.

Example of homes listed under quarantine. Corvallis Gazette-Times, January 15, 1919.

On February 7, 1919, there were no new cases on campus and only 5 homes in Corvallis under quarantine.  By February 13, the Gazette-Times reported that Corvallis was flu free, and had been for several days, and was the first of the larger towns to report being so.

The pandemic in Corvallis lasted through Spring 1919.  Frank McCready, who died April 11, 1919, was reported as the last casualty of the flu pandemic.  Two weeks later on April 25, 1919, fear of a new outbreak was raised when neighboring town and state capital Salem reported five new cases. However, that outbreak didn’t spread to Corvallis.

Fear of another outbreak during the 1919-1920 flu season was high, and preparedness was the key for any potential new outbreak.  From the previous year, Corvallis had already established effective measures to prevent the spread of disease and these would need to be put in place again if necessary.  Corvallis planned on quarantining those infected as the main measure.

This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.

The “Spanish” Flu Arrives in Oregon

This post is the second in a series on the effects of the “Spanish” Flu pandemic in 1918 and 1919. In light of the recent situation with COVID-19, SCARC archivists Anna Dvorak and Larry Landis explore how past epidemics and pandemics have impacted the Oregon State and Corvallis communities.

The name “Spanish Flu” was a misnomer, and for the most part, Oregon newspapers denied the connection and referred to it as the flu or influenza, especially as the pandemic progressed. The name originated from the fact that at the time Spain did not censor news, and the epidemic there was widely publicized, giving rise to the common but totally misleading belief that the virus spread from cases in Spain.

Early on, the flu was compared to the 1889-1890 flu epidemic, referred to at the time as La Grippe, with its similar symptoms and progression.  The theory was floated that this previous epidemic gave older people immunity to the “Spanish” Influenza, and explained why this new flu impacted younger people and those who were not previously exposed.

Portland, Oregon with Mt. Hood in the background, Visual Instruction Department Lantern Slides, 1900-1940 (P 217)

The number of cases and fatality of the strain remains uncertain even today.  It is largely believed that there were at least 50 million deaths worldwide, and at least 500,000 of those were in the United States.  In Oregon, about 50,000 were diagnosed with the flu and 3,675 died, which was above the national average. However, Corvallis, and Oregon Agricultural College in particular, fared quite well and had much lower fatality rates.  

The flu impacted the United States in three waves.  The earliest wave originating from a military base in Kansas, the Second Wave started when the virus returned to Boston with soldiers from fighting overseas in August 1918, and the Third Wave, a resurgence of cases in Winter 1919.  The flu subsided later that summer.  When the flu arrived in the United States, soldiers in Europe had already been taking measures against the flu.  As of August 20th, American soldiers “in camp” in the European theatre, were subjected to “gargle parades” first thing in the morning.  This antiseptic throat rinse was designed to ward off influenza.

The Polk County Post, October 11, 1918

Crowded conditions and the movement of troops during World War I likely contributed to the spread of the 1918 virus around the world.  From Europe and Boston it spread, and you can track the spread by tracking the movement of troops.  The efficient railway system and steamships made this virus spread even quicker.  Furthermore, the war effort exacerbated already existing issues with congregating and large groups of people as people gathered for parades, rallies, and bond drives, and limited medical professionals.  Within six weeks of its outbreak in Boston, all of North America was affected.

Scene at Fort Stevens, Gerald W. Williams Regional Albums (P 303)

The first case seems to have arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the middle of September 1918, having arrived from Philadelphia in Washington state as troops moved to Camp Lewis.  The first case in Oregon was reported, when it spread from Camp Lewis to Fort Stevens, near Astoria.  The mayor of Astoria was quick to quarantine his city, while the city of Portland, being further away, was slower.  At first, health officials in Portland relied on a city-wide mask ordinance while residents ignored anti-crowding measures and quarantine laws and continued on as usual.  In line with the continued movement of troops through the Northwest, the first case was reported in Portland on October 4 when a sick soldier traveling to Texas was too sick to reach his final destination.  Only as cases grew, did push back subside; the toll was too much to ignore.  

The Morning Oregonian, October 5, 1918

The next day, the first instance of Oregonians affected by the flu was printed on the front page of The Morning Oregonian on October 5, 1918.  In the article titled “Sneezers musn’t stay in theaters – health officer orders the ejection of coughers also,” City Health Officer Dr. George Parrish supported the removal of potentially sick individuals, while not closing the places of gathering themselves.  This is likely due to his understanding that “Several persons,” he stated, “have told me of possible cases and several doctors have been reported as having treated cases of Spanish influenza, but inquiry proves that none of the cases was the real thing . . . However, we are taking every possible means to prevent spread of the disease in case it should appear.”

With this emphasis on preventative measures, on October 7, 300 slides were distributed to theaters around the state to educate residents on preventative measures and The Oregonian carried the headline, “Cut Out Sneezing – Doctors War Cry.”  Two days later, on the 9th, The Oregonian was still reporting that the “Influenza in City is Under Control,” while the City Health Officer contradicted this statement when he canceled a business trip to Chicago underlying a larger fear.

It was at this time that the course of disease began to differentiate its impact in different communities.  For example, Corvallis was ahead of Portland, and they canceled all public gatherings and established a hospital to aid in isolation of new cases.  Portland followed suit two days later when the cases in the city were declared at 60 (although they were likely twice that) and the state reported 200 cases.  And by the 13th, all hospital beds that could be made available for flu patients in the city were full.  Portland saw an influx of people from surrounding rural areas who didn’t have access to the necessary care and from those working in shipyards and other war industries.

The evolution of the pandemic in Corvallis and on the Oregon Agricultural College campus will be discussed in coming weeks.

The Morning Oregonian, November 4, 1918

This post was contributed by Anna Dvorak. Anna is a Processing Archivist and Historian of Science, and serves as SCARC’s social media coordinator.

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 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.