A Century of Shakespeare at OSU

Puck, Ariel, and Romeo are familiar faces to the Beaver stage and their characters were brought to life by Professor Emerita of Theatre Arts Charlotte Headrick in a presentation on the history of Shakespeare productions at OSU. The event was organized by the OSU Special Collections and Archives in celebration of Oregon Archives Month and entertained 20 folks during their lunch hour on October 30th. In this quirky and fun overview, which began with a view from the first known student staging of a Shakespeare play (Julius Caesar) in 1895, Charlotte shared tales of near disaster (the actor who had to be roused from his bed at home to play his part on the opening night of the Merchant of Venice), unconventional productions (live chickens on the stage for Taming of the Shrew), and alums who would later shine bright in the world of theatre after OSU (Julyana Soelistyo, Michael Lowry, Soomi Kim, Sheila Daniels).

With a 35-year history of directing and performing in dozens of OSU theatre productions, Charlotte recounted stories of her many brushes with the Bard. These included details of the countercultural feel of a 2011 production of As You Like It where Charlotte played the character of Duke Senior wearing a patchwork quilt coat a la Ken Kesey. This play was a part of a very successful recent tradition of Shakespeare productions performed outdoors during the summer that began in 2006 and has continued on through this year. Posters for many of these annual “Bard in the Quad” productions were on display during Charlotte’s presentation, including the colorfully psychedelic one for As You Like It.          

It was very fitting that Charlotte showcased campus history for Oregon Archives Month. For the nearly 20 years that I’ve been at OSU, Charlotte has been helping us preserve documentation of university theatre through many transfers of photographs, posters, programs, and prompt books. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the images featured in the presentation came from collections in SCARC. Her own career at OSU is reflected in The Charlotte Headrick Papers (unprocessed and not yet available) and there are two oral history interviews conducted with Charlotte in 2015 and 2019.

Charlotte’s Shakespeare presentation was videotaped by SCARC colleague Chris Petersen and is already available online! https://media.oregonstate.edu/media/t/0_wfkuiayg/2947392

All the world is a stage and we are here to archive it!

What does the archive mean to me?

How can I even begin to answer that question?  My experiences in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) and with SCARC faculty over the past four and a half years have been, in one word, amazing.  But beyond that, there are not enough words to even begin to say what this experience has meant to me.  Every day there is something new to discover and new people to interact with.  But even more importantly, over the past four years I have discovered that my work in special collections and archives has fostered in me a love beyond merely conducting research, but being able to share in others’ work and excitement of discovery in the archives.  Through working at SCARC I get to use my background in history and research to share with researchers (and the world through social media!) what amazing collections we have the honor of working with. 

I have also had the opportunity to work outreach events, events that I believe are crucial to reaching people outside of the academic setting.  I have volunteered to work SCARC open houses and exhibit openings, while also traveling farther afield to work events in Portland.  This ability to share SCARC with people beyond those who walk into the reading room is one of my favorite parts of working here.  And I LOVE working the front desk.  My hours spent working the front desk have been some of the most fulfilling.

While completing my PhD and working at SCARC I also had the opportunity to serve as Deschutes Brewery Archiving Intern.  Aside from working full-time while going to school, this was an eye-opening experience that allowed me another opportunity to share the archive experience with those outside of the traditional academic setting.  It was also the largest collection I had processed on my own.  This was a great learning experience that truly brought the archives to life for me and gave me a project I could call my own.  I also valued the opportunity to share the importance of archives for preserving not only company records or artifacts, but the importance of the employees voices in that company history.

But most importantly, I have decided that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.  Despite having spent seven years working on a Masters and then PhD in History of Science, I want to spend my days working at an archive.  As I look towards the future and think about what I want it to hold, I know my future plans will ideally include working and teaching in an archive.  With the experiences I have gained in my seven years at OSU, four of which I had to honor of spending working in SCARC, I know I don’t want my work in the archives to end.  To me, the archives can serve as a place to bring all these experiences together and allow me to pursue a profession that brings together the best parts of being a historian while having the opportunity to share this knowledge through archives and aiding in each researcher’s own research and project development. 

Anna Elizabeth Dvorak is a historian of science focusing on science in early Cold War policy.  She recently completed her PhD dissertation on Leo Szilard’s fact and fiction here at OSU.

Agents of Ecological Imperialism: Nurserymen and the Creation of the Nineteenth-Century Plant Trade

This summer the Resident Scholar Program at the Special Collections and Archives Research Center welcomed Camden Burd, a PhD candidate in History at the University of Rochester. Burd’s research focuses on the ecological and economic impact of 19th century nurserymen, and how the plant trade in the United States transformed the rural landscape of the American West.

Burd presented a component of his research in mid-August in a talk titled, “Agents of Ecological Imperialism – Nurserymen and the Creation of Nineteenth-Century Plant Trade.” In his lecture, Burd depicted 19th century nurserymen as both businessmen and emissaries of agricultural transformation, noting that nurseries encouraged farmers and settlers alike to change their surroundings with orchards and gardens in an attempt to both beautify and create bounty. Not only was this mindset beneficial to the businesses within the plant trade, but it was also well within the contemporary mindset and ideology of Westward expansion and frontier settlement.

One of the largest commercial nurseries mentioned by Burd was Mount Hope, located in Rochester, New York. The East Coast, and Rochester in particular, were central to the plant trade in the United States, and Burd pointed out that the number of nurserymen living in the Rochester area jumped more than ten-fold from 1840 to 1855. As these nurseries grew, they began to expand and make connections westward, where there resided an untapped market for pioneers migrating to unsettled territories. One entrepreneur, Henderson Leulling, was a nurseryman based in the Oregon Territory who is well-known today for providing plant material such as fruit trees to early Oregon growers.

While investigating the economic and cultural impact made by these nurserymen, Burd also explored the consequences of nation-wide plant distribution, mainly though a discussion of the San Jose scale, a pest insect that was originally discovered in California, and that proved to be especially devastating to orchards. The outbreak of the San Jose scale was attributed to East Coast nurseries and nurserymen, and soon led to stricter regulations surrounding the sale and distribution of plant material across state lines. These new restrictions dissuaded local farmers from purchasing plants outside their geographic area. This shift would gradually lead to declines in these once booming businesses after the turn of the 20th century. The unintended consequences suffered by these nurserymen remind us, as Burd noted, of the “tangled relationship between nature and pioneering business.”

Camden Burd is the 30th scholar to participate in the Oregon State University Libraries and Press Resident Scholar Program, which is now in its 12th year.

This post is contributed by SCARC student archivist Hannah Lawson, a chemistry major with a passion for art, conservation, and preserving history.

July 2019 Guide Additions to SCARC Collections

SCARC completed 10 new or updated finding aids in July 2019.  The following is a list and a little information about what we accomplished.   Several large projects were wrapped up in July – representing more than 116 cubic feet of paper records, 17+ GB of born-digital materials, and more than 7700 photographs.

These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”).  

  • One of the guides is for a collection that was only minimally described and is now fully processed and described.
  • Three  of the guides are for new collection received in 2014-2018 that were previously unavailable to researchers.
  • Six of the guides are updates to incorporate addition or reflect current description standards and practices.

All of these materials are now available to researchers. 

Collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

Gerald W. Williams Papers, 1854-2016 (MSS Williams)

The Gerald W. Williams Papers document Williams’ research and writing on the U.S. Forest Service, forestry and public lands, and the environment and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Gerald “Jerry” Williams, a sociologist and historian for the U.S. Forest Service from 1979 until his retirement in 2005, spent much of his Forest Service career in the Pacific Northwest prior to being appointed national historian in 1998.

New Collections:

Tracy Daugherty Papers, 1933-2018 (MSS Daugherty)

The Tracy Daugherty Papers offer a deep look into his personal, academic, and authorial life. Tracy Daugherty is a well-respected author and Emeritus Professor at Oregon State University.

Pink Boots Society Records, 2007-2019 (MSS PinkBoots)

The Pink Boots Society Records document the creation, growth, administration, and members of a professional organization that supports women in the brewing industries. Included are operational documents, marketing materials, legal and financial records, membership and volunteer management records, correspondence, meeting agendas and minutes, governance materials, scholarship programs information, presentations, events materials, photographs and videos, documents related to chapter management, the organization’s website, and records related to the Barley’s Angels. The Pink Boots Society Records is primarily an electronic collection and consists of born-digital materials (.mp3, video, documents, website); however, merchandise and ephemera from events are also included.  The Pink Boots Society was inspired by a 2007 cross-country trip taken by Teri Fahrendorf. When the trip was finished, Fahrendorf had collected contact information for nearly 60 women who wanted to create and participate in a supportive professional community. In 2012, the Pink Boots Society became a non-profit organization, which allowed them to raise funds and expand their educational scholarships, including support for women to attend brewing schools and travel abroad.

School of Forestry Senior Forestry Papers, 1910-1956 (RG 299)

The School of Forestry Senior Forestry Papers consist of about 700 undergraduate theses and term papers completed by forestry students at Oregon State College from 1910 to 1956.  The theses represent a wide range of forestry and forest products topics; many of the theses include original photographs, maps, and oversize charts and drawings.  The papers are available online in ScholarsArchive@OSU.

Finding aids that have been updated to incorporate additions or reflect current standards and practice:

Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues Collection, 1832-1999 (MSS Seed)

The Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues Collection consists of more than 2200 flower and seed catalogues produced by nurseries and seed companies in the United States, Great Britain, Europe and Asia from the mid-19th century through the 20th century. An on-line exhibit — A Short History of the Seed & Nursery Catalogue in Europe and The U.S. — includes images of selected catalogs from the collection.

Margaret Osler Papers, 1912-2010 (MSS Osler)

The Margaret Osler Papers document Osler’s life and career as a historian of science and philosophy. Margaret Osler (1942-2010) was a historian of science and philosophy who published widely on the scientific revolution and on the connection between religion and early science. In her two books and more than 125 articles, Osler focused in particular on the work of Pierre Gassendi, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton. Osler was a member of the faculty at Oregon State University from 1968 to 1972, and a faculty member at the University of Calgary for thirty-five years.

Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division, 1916-2013 (MSS Spruce)

The Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Army Spruce Production Division is made up of photographs, publications, newspaper clippings, research notes, and transcripts of oral histories documenting the Army Spruce Production Division. These materials were acquired by U.S. Forest Service historian Gerald W. Williams in support of his research and writings on the Spruce Division. Materials from this collection are available online in the Gerald W. Williams Digital Collection.

Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-2012 (MSS CCC)

The Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Civilian Conservation Corps is made up of publications, photographs, newspaper clippings, maps, architectural drawings, artifacts, DVDs, sound recordings, and VHS videotapes documenting various Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps and enrollees in Oregon and other states. These materials were acquired by U.S. Forest Service Historian Gerald W. Williams.

Gerald W. Williams Ephemera Collection, 1866-2008 (MSS WilliamsEphemera)

The Gerald W. Williams Ephemera Collection consists of printed ephemera, documents, and objects assembled and acquired by Williams in the course of his work as a Forest Service sociologist and historian and due to his avocational interest in the history of forestry as a science and profession and the regional history of the Pacific Northwest.  Many of the materials in the collection were created or produced by the U.S. Forest Service.  Gerald Williams worked for the U.S. Forest Service from 1979 to 2005 as a sociologist (1979-1998) and historian (1998-2005).

Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection, 1959-2007 (FV 320)

The Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection consists of audio-visual materials, either collected or created by Williams, that document a variety of topics in the natural history of the Pacific Northwest, with a particular emphasis on the practice and culture of forestry in the region. The collection consists of multiple audio-visual formats including VHS tapes, DVDs, audio cassettes, and motion picture films, among others.

Periodical Advertisements Show off the Lasting Power of the American Consumer

This post was contributed by Nicole Horowitz a graduate student in the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film, who recently completed an internship with curator Anne Bahde. Nicole examined women’s periodicals from the modernist period to look at the intersections between literature and material culture during the era.

A venture over to any special collections or archival research center housed in a university worth its salt will boast a wide array of periodicals, likely ranging from the mid-19th century to the modern-day. But, while most archival material is more likely spotted in the pages of a history book than on the shelves of the local supermarket, we’d like to bring your attention to a notable exception to that rule: the world of periodical advertisements.

And while OSU’s own Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) boasts a wide an array of ad-type holdings, one doesn’t need a Mad Men level appreciation of the history of adverts to appreciate them. In fact, many of the brands featured in popular periodicals of the Modernist Era, for example (roughly the 1890s to the 1930s), are as familiar to the modern consumer as they were to their 20th century counterparts. A Women’s Home Companion, for example, contains ads for everything from Listerine to Sunkist Oranges to Valspar Paint, none of which would seem out of place in our modern marketplace. And a further look at these ads might reveal not only popular trends in art, fashion, and food of the era, but also the lasting power of these powerhouse brands, and how that might help us understand the American consumer as both ever-changing and ever-staying-the-same.

1918 Heinz Advertisement

Take for example, two advertisements for Heinz products, one from 1918, the other from 1925. The 1918 spread is set in scene around a dinner table on a summer afternoon, and shows off the very epitome of post-World War I elegance, including a maid rushing to the table with signature Heinz Ketchup. It is printed in bright water-color-esque tones, with ornate floral embellishments. The 1925 advertisement, by contrast, is simpler; a clean white background with a single bottle of Heinz Ketchup centered, loving held, cleanly labeled. While the font is consistent (and indeed, consistent today), this bolder color palette and copy betrays the 1920s sensibilities that put less of an emphasis on family, and more on the food itself, as the increasing migration to cities brought an enthusiasm for dining out, and by extension, the perennial Ketchup-topped hamburger, front and center.

This example is one of countless advertisements in this publication and many more which not only trace the evolution and durability of any number of American products, but also speak to the beauty, stylishness and era-reflecting elegance of the print work itself, through copy and image alike. In this way, the Modernist period can be seen not only as a period of great literary and cultural growth, but aesthetic growth as well, through the beauty of these ads and others, some of which feature logos that still show up in shopping carts and refrigerators the country over, today.

“Why does this matter?” you might ask. Well, if you’ve ever coaxed ketchup from a glass bottle at your own local greasy spoon, you are a part of the American legacy of Heinz. Products and the advertisements that sell them are an undeniable part of American identity, and to understand one’s place as part of this heritage is the best way to support it, or actively change it, as one sees fit. In other words, knowledge is power, even if that knowledge revolves around condiments.

The So-What Question in Archives

This post was contributed by Nicole Horowitz a graduate student in the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film, who recently completed an internship with curator Anne Bahde. Nicole examined women’s periodicals from the modernist period to look at the intersections between literature and material culture during the era.

            Upon entering the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) as an intern, I found myself excited about so many different aspects of special collections and archival research. However, I’ve long felt that this propensity to be interested in so-called “old things” was rather innate, as opposed to a learned quality. This brings up an interesting “so what?” type question. What does it mean to be interested in material culture and archival research? What does that mean for scholarship in English literature? Is there an intuitive way to marry these two fields? And moreover, can this framework of marriage between disciplines (or, more acutely, between a field of scholarship and the material print culture than underpins it) be applied to different fields of study?

            The answer to this question has been, on the whole, tricky. In explaining the work of my internship (and to some extent, my thesis project in general) to my colleagues, I feel that specter, that so-what, so abundantly. Their work is largely forward thinking, using materials created in the last few years to underpin arguments about the changing nature of our world through climate change, through digital media, through rhetoric and its many applications. My work privileges the past: spends a lot of time mining the small details of artifacts housed there for insights, for distinctions, for joy.

            And maybe therein lies the answer, on some level, to the “so what.” I find archival work joyful. Particularly the work I do, looking at periodicals from the 1920s, it is hard not to get caught up in the optimism of the Modernist moment. This optimism is not unknown to those who don’t have a vested interest in periodicals. It is the reason why The Great Gatsby has been made into two films; why Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has found success. There is a sense of optimism that swaddles the era and the material produced from it. This manifests everywhere; in the clothing depicted, in the “you can do it yourself!” nature of sewing patterns and recipes. In the wonder-laded tone of the letters to the editors, gushing over new technology (electric billboards! New cold medicines!). In the advertisement of new ingredients (pineapple! Canned tuna!) perhaps before unseen to middle America. In the construction of the cityscape as a place to been seen in new clothes, buy new things, partake in new experiences that enrich the notions of what it means to be alive. And while in 2019, we might not find the same sense of wonder in the bright redness of a silk-styled robe or an advertisement for an electric phonograph, there is a relevant underlying question: where does that sense of optimism live in us today?

            Furthermore, there is an old, perhaps all too much used adage about history: why it’s important, why those who don’t understand it are doomed to repeat it. I would say that archival work is less concerned with the cautionary aspect of that adage, and more invested the mileage of historical reflection. Those who do not know what has come before are unable to innovate. They cannot do something “new” if they do not understand what is “old.” In this way, old things are the greatest teachers in the world. They show us the place from where we’ve come. In the case of the work I do: a place where American society is innovating inclusivity, perhaps in a clunky way, but with a vigor that suggests the ability of humankind to move past its limitation. These materials demonstrate both the successes and failures of print media of the time, and in so doing, give us a map of a training ground that allows us to be better in the modern world. And through that, we understand that the legacy of activism, of anti-racism, of feminism, is longer, more tangled, and might include more types of expression that we are accustomed to.

            I have found my research process dangling between the poles of being enthralling and incredibly frustrating. It is hard to do work in which there is such an abundance of material in some directions, and almost no information in others. It can be frustrating when things are missing, torn away, or when materials are not as engaged with modern relevance as anticipated. But still, I would argue that archival work is not only important in its physical/material incarnations, but also on a philosophical and even emotional level. And that this latter aspect is the way into the rest: it is the gateway, the evangelical pathway through which all archival research is conducted and insights created.

            In this vein, I cannot help but think about the difference between the reaction of my colleagues when I tell them about my research and when I show them things I have found. On the one hand, hesitation. Lack of engagement. On the other, as I hold up a picture on my phone of a long-forgotten F. Scott Fitzgerald story entitled “The Pusher in the Face” (complete with an illustration of a man, clad in his 1920s best, pushing a woman in the face, exactly as the title would suggest), enthrallment. A look of “what is this, and why didn’t I know about it before?” It is in these things, these looks, that the true thingness, the magic, of archival work is revealed. It is in this thingness that we continue to thrive.

May and June 2019 Guide Additions to SCARC Collections

SCARC completed 2 new finding aids in May and June 2019.  The following is a list and a little information about what we accomplished.

These finalized finding aids are available through the Archives West finding aids database, our Archon finding aids interface, and the OSUL discovery system (a.k.a. “the catalog”).

Both of these guides are for collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described.

All of these materials are now available to researchers!

Collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

William F. Groves Photographs, 1888-1942 (P 135)
The William F. Groves Photographs are comprised of photographs assembled by William Franklin Groves throughout his life in Corvallis, and his time as a student at Oregon Agricultural College. Groves graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1897 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Gerald Hoard Photograph Collection, circa 1890-1915 (P 068) 
The Gerald Hoard Photograph Collection consists of glass plate negatives of Oregon Agricultural College scenes contemporary to the late-19th and early-20th century. Gerald Lester Hoard Jr. was born In Portland, Oregon on October 1, 1931 and attended Oregon State College between 1954 to 1955, where he studied engineering. The images clearly predate Hoard’s time as a student at Oregon State College, having been taken in the 1900s or earlier.  Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

OSU Buildings Histories LibGuide Creation Internship

SCARC’s collections include documentation of nearly all of the hundreds of the OSU Corvallis campus buildings, both existing and nonextant. Over the years, OSU has named buildings after numerous individuals, renamed buildings, and has reused the same name to name different structures. This causes a number of challenges affecting various areas of departmental functions including arrangement and description, metadata for digitized materials, and public services. SCARC decided to create an internship project for an “OSU Building Names Research Project intern” to be responsible for creating a comprehensive LibGuide of buildings and building names on the Corvallis campus.

OSU Building Histories LibGuide

We hired history student and class of 2019 graduate Lydia Parker, and over the course winter and spring terms 2019, and 160 hours of work, she:

  • Read relevant portions of the books A School for the People by Larry Landis and The People’s School by Bill Robbins.
  • Used existing inventories to compile a comprehensive inventory of all current OSU named buildings on the Corvallis campus, along with an inventory of all nonextant OSU named buildings.
  • Used SCARC collections to determine all of the names that have been used for a given building.
  • Created a LibGuide of buildings and building names on the Corvallis campus – this LibGuide includes textual information about each building, SCARC materials citations, building photographs, and campus maps.
  • Created documentation of the process so that other interns and staff can continue with the project as needed.
  • Wrote a blog post about her experiences with the project to publish online via SCARC social media (see below!).

Parker’s work will positively impact various areas of SCARC departmental functions including arrangement and description, metadata for digitized materials, and public services. The compiled list of information will assist with finding aid updates and metadata clean up. And, the LibGuide will more effectively expose SCARC resources to researchers working on class papers and theses, scholars studying various topics related to buildings’ histories, faculty and staff seeking information about Oregon State’s administrative history, as well as the broader OSU community wanting to learn more about local history.

SCARC was absolutely delighted with Parker’s work and though we wish she could continue working for us, we wish her many congratulations on her graduation!

“As a Corvallis native, the Oregon State University campus has always felt like a second home to me. When I entered into my first year of college, I doubted my decision to come to Oregon State. I thought I should have gone somewhere else, somewhere further away from home- but after working in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, I am so glad I stayed here. I learned more about “my home” than I ever thought possible, and gained experience that will last with me for a lifetime.

In my freshman and sophomore year, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, career, schooling, etc. I changed my major three times before realizing that the only classes I consistently received ‘A’s in were History courses. My junior year, I made the switch to History. This opened a world of opportunities for me. I learned how to research, how to read thoroughly, and how to write. My history classes were fun and challenging, and often forced me to think about things from an empathetic point of view that I never really had before. Dr. Trina Hogg, my professor for History of Africa and my History Capstone, told me that “The act of doing history is looking empathetically at the past.”

I see that empathy in the way the people at SCARC work, and how carefully every collection is taken care of so that this knowledge might be preserved for generations to come. I am thankful for their hard work, and for allowing me to be a part of the Oregon State Buildings history.

Working in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center opened my eyes to things I never knew about a town and a campus that I have called home for 24 years. I often found myself lost in mesmerizing old photographs and memoirs about how things used to be. I am part of the 150th class to graduate from Oregon State. My time in the archives gave me a special view into the history of our campus, and how things have changed so much in the past 1.5 centuries. Working for SCARC gave me a unique outlook, and puts my accomplishment as a graduating senior into perspective. I will forever be grateful for the time I spent working over the last two terms.

Moving forward, I will be applying to graduate school in Indigenous Studies, and hopefully pursuing a career in teaching or journalism. I know that the experience I gained working in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center, learning to search the archives, and feeling comfortable looking through special collections, will be a huge benefit in my future endeavors.

Thank you, SCARC!”

~ Lydia Parker, class of 2019

Rare Books Shift

This post is contributed by Student Archivist Connor Lambert, a senior studying history and education. 

Connor and the “delightfully teal cart”

As a senior with two majors, one in education and one in history, I have managed to keep myself busy these last four years. My dream is to become a secondary school educator. This aspiration began with my mother, who teaches first grade. I always felt proud to tell others that my mom was a teacher, but I wanted to be a biologist. When I was a junior in high school, my thoughts officially turned to teaching because of my outstanding history teacher. His class felt like I was sitting though a movie because the stories that he was telling were so exciting. I had never been so interested in a class. He is the main reason that I want to be a teacher. Once I begin to teach, my goal is to teach history in a way that brings entertainment to students. I want to be able to create an engaging class that can ignite a love for the stories that created the world we live in. This upcoming September I will have the chance to put my plans into action when my student teaching year begins. In order to help fund my student teaching experience, I needed a job. I was lucky to finally find a position that allowed me to experience history firsthand.

Over the last few weeks I have been tasked with shifting all the collections over a few spaces in order to create more room for future expansion. My task involved a lot of loading books onto a delightfully teal cart, moving them a few aisles over, and putting them back onto a shelf. As tedious as this may sound, it was in reality one of the most interesting tasks that I have ever had. As someone who is interested in history and books, I find the sheer number of items within the archive amazing. More amazing than that is the age of many of them. I was moving and touching books that were published before the Civil War, and even many from before the Revolutionary War. The amount of history there is magical. Some items there make me question why things are ever even published. For example, books that are three feet tall and weigh fifty pounds. I cannot see any reasonable person deciding to go to the bookstore and picking themselves up a copy. On the other side of those odd few books, there was a plethora of old scientific journals that were full of hand drawn plants and animals.  Looking through these was by far my favorite part of the shift. It is one thing looking at these images on a computer screen, it is completely different to be feeling the age of the books in your hands while seeing what lays within.

The biggest takeaway from this project is that there is so much more within these archives than I ever thought. It feels as if the archive contains something that relates to any topic you can imagine.

Looking toward the future, I hope to be able to use the sources in SCARC, or any other archive to bring excitement into a classroom.  Much like with the old science journals, holding the item in your hands is a much more interesting experience than just talking about them and looking at pictures. If I am ever able to teach a class that has the opportunity to explore the many items within an archive I will undoubtedly take them there. I feel that it is a way to get interested in history. It allows for you to physically hold history, and that is why, although I was just moving books, it has been one of the coolest experiences I have had.

“Mountain Rescue” Video Now Available

This post is contributed by Student Archivist Genevieve Connolly, an undergraduate Physics major with a particular interest in particle physics and astrophysics. She loves studying languages on the side, and hopes that her future career takes her all over the world. 

The natural beauty of Oregon in the 1920s is a unique sight. Portland-born photographer Ralph I. Gifford (1894-1947) made it his mission to capture Oregon’s trademark scenery. As a photographer for the Travel and Information Department in the Oregon State Highway Commission, his photographs were used to promote tourism. However in addition to his contributions to Oregon’s tourist business, he also took motion pictures. This “Mountain Rescue” video is one such example. Shot on Mount Hood, the production was probably intended to be a search and rescue training video. It portrays a staged rescue during which a man hiking on the mountain falls, injuring his leg. He is then found by a group of rescuers who use a portable radio to call for assistance and then carry the injured man down the mountain and evacuate him. At 3:40, a Crag Rats Hood River patch can be seen on the left shoulder of one of the rescuers. Founded in 1926, the Crag Rats is the oldest mountain search and rescue organization in the United States.

SCARC obtained this footage from a donor in 2009. It came to SCARC out of order and interspersed with other miscellaneous footage of Oregon. In total, the collection consisted of 7 reels of 35mm nitrate film negatives (about 3200 feet). After being digitized it was arranged into the order displayed in the final video by two SCARC student employees: myself and my sister. My sister, Maddie, first watched the entire video containing the mountain rescue footage (about 35 minutes) from start to finish to sort out the timestamps of the mountain rescue. Then she discerned the story line of the rescue and listed the timestamps in the correct order. Using this list, I put together the final video in Adobe Premiere by cutting the footage at the timestamps indicated by my sister and rearranging them into the order she determined. I am happy to have been able to contribute to giving the public a glimpse into this aspect of Oregon’s history.