Tag Archives: Reparative Description

Enhanced Description for the Erlinda Gonzales-Berry Papers: highlighting Indigenous Mexican, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Triqui Communities 

A folder from the Erlinda Gonzales-Berry Papers

The Erlinda Gonzales-Berry Papers document the research and publishing of Gonzales-Berry in the fields of Latino literature and culture and immigration from Mexico to the United States. Her research files include, but are not limited to, a plethora of notes, articles, presentations, book chapters, newspaper clippings, and reports. In the container list for the collection guide, the majority of the folder titles describe the material types but not necessarily the subjects or topics covered within the materials themselves. This was an opportunity for enhanced description, which is related to and supports “reparative description”, which is a “remediation of practices or data that exclude, silence, harm, or mischaracterize marginalized people in the data created or used by archivists to identify or characterize archival resources.” (SAA Dictionary)

In 2023, OSU Masters graduate student Sharon Salgado, shared the need for enhanced description to highlight Indigenous Mexican, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Triqui communities, mostly from the state of Oaxaca, who migrated to Oregon, documented within the collection. She was using the papers for her research project and noted that it would have been helpful to her as a researcher if the representation of these communities within the materials was more explicitly included as part of the collection guide. She shared her research notes, specifically noting the materials she referenced. 

The collection guide was updated to include a “Statement on Description” that included the keywords – so the collection would show as a result when searched – with a link to this blog post. We also added four Library of Congress Subject Headings: Zapotec Indians, Mixtec Indians, Triqui Indians, and Oaxaca (Mexico: State).

This blog post includes a statement from Salgado as well as her research notes which include the folders within the collection she referenced, along with the specific materials she used in her research.

Below is a statement from Salgado: 

“Dr. Erlinda Gonzalez-Berry carefully selects the materials in this collection and includes the works of other important scholars, like Stephen Lynn, who dedicated their lives to telling the stories of Indigenous Mexicans, mostly from the state of Oaxaca, migrating to Oregon. The main ethnicities in the records are Mixtec, Zapotec, and Triqui. However, other Indigenous identities reside in the Beaver State, like Purépechas from Michoacán, Mexico. Even though the materials about the lives and experiences of Indigenous Mexicans in Oregon and in the US are scarce, their importance to the US economy is fundamental. Their work in the fields, service industries, nurseries, and other businesses is essential for developing the state and the Pacific Northwest farming and agricultural sector. 

The materials are collections of newspaper cuts and individual research conducted by scholars, which focus on the struggles of Indigenous Mexican farmworkers to obtain fair wages and stop exploitation in the fields, as well as the struggle to find translators since most of the Oaxacans speak their Indigenous languages and not Spanish or English.”

Sharon Salgado, OSU Masters Student, 2023 Graduate

Below is the list of folders within the collection referenced, along with the specific materials she used in her research. Note: for ease of access, the materials listed have been moved to the beginning of the folder. 

Box-Folder 1.7 Immigration in Oregon, 1995-2009

  • “The New Pluralism in Woodburn, Oregon – A Community Study Conducted in 2003-2004” Summary Report written by Ed Kissam and Lynn Stephen, September 2006. Note: The Mixtec community is represented in the report, and there is a reference to El Oaxaqueno, a newspaper published in California on page 23.
  • “Cultural Citizenship and Labor Rights for Oregon Farmworkers: The Case of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Nordoeste (PCUN)” by Lynn Stephen. Human Organization Vol. 62, No. 1 (Spring 2003), pp. 27-38 (12 pages); Published By: Society for Applied Anthropology. Note: Leonides Ávila, a Mixtec organizer and farmworker who worked for PCUN.

Box-Folder 1.13 Journal Articles, 1995-1996

  • Chapter from the 1995 book Marginal Spaces edited by Michael Peter Smith, Chapter 5 “Mixtecs and Mestizos in California Agriculture: Ethnic Displacement and Hierarchy among Mexican Farm Workers, Contributors” by Carol Zabin 

Box-Folder 1.16: Mexicans in Oregon, 1974-2006 

  • Stephen, Lynn (2004). “The Gaze of Surveillance in the Lives of Mexican Immigrant Workers” Development 47 (1), 97-102. Note: Stephen’s article mentions Indigenous Mexicans; she specifically describes the story of Marina Bautista, a 27-year-old undocumented immigrant from the Mixtec region of Oaxaca.
  • Sarathy, Brinda (2006). “The Latinization of Forest Management Work in Southern Oregon: A Case from Rogue Valley” Journal of Forestry, October/November 2006.
  • Slatta, Richard Wayne (1974). “ Valley Migrant League.”  In Chicanos in Oregon: An Historical Overview (Masters Thesis, Portland State University). [full text available online]
  • McGlade, Michael S. (2002). “Mexican Farm Labor Networks and Population Increase in the Pacific Northwest” APCG Yearbook, Volume 62. Note: The connection between rural and urban, page 51.
  • Executive Order 13166: Limited English Proficiency Resource Document: Tips and Tools from the Field, September 2004. Note: Page 67 “…trainings focused on teaching interpretation skills to speakers of indigenous languages including Mixteco, Triqui, Zapoteco, Nahuatl, Tarasco, Akateco, Kanjobal, and others.”
  • Stephen, Lynn (2004). “Mixtec Farmworkers in Oregon: Linking Labor and Ethnicity through Farmworker Unions and Hometown Associations.” In Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the United States, edited by Jonathan Fox, Gaspar Rivera-Salgado.
  • Fairchild, Stephen T. and Nicole B. Simpson (2004). “Mexican migration to the United States Pacific Northwest.” Population Research and Policy Review, 23 (3).  
  • Dash, Robert C. (2002-2003). “Latinos, Political Change, and Electoral Mobilization in Oregon,” Latino(a) Research Review 5, no. 2-3.
  • Oregon Center for Public Policy (2007). “Undocumented Workers are Taxpayers, Too.” Issue Brief, Revised April 10, 2007. 
  • O’Connor, Pat (2006). “Occupations by Race in Oregon,” Oregon Employment Department, OLMIS.

Box-Folder 1.21 Newspaper Articles, 1943-2007 

  • “Idiomas poco hablados causan problemas en tribunal” El Hispanic News, January 20, 2005. Note: Key words: Texmelucan, Zapoteco, Oaxaca, Mixteco. Información en el artículo: sólo alrededor de 4,100 personas en el mundo [hablan el idioma Texmelucan Zapoteco]
  • “Not Quite Home” by Ernestine Bousquet, The Bulletin, December 26, 2004. Note: Not Quite Home: After settling in Central Oregon, an immigrant family holds tight to its Mexican culture and traditions. 
  • “La Oaxaqueña proves small businesses have a place in the market” by Richard Jones, El Hispanic News, September 29, 2004. Note: Article about La Oaxaqueña Frutería in Portland, Oregon; Lázaro García, owner.
  • “Immigrants from Mexico’s indigenous groups work to preserve traditional medicine,” Juliana Barbassa, El Hispanic News, January 5, 2006.  

Box-Folder 1.25: Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) and Freedom Ride, 2001-2003

  • PCUN Fighting for Farmworker Rights (compilation of news clippings – blue title page). Note: See the article, “Native Americans join farmworkers in protest against Bracero Bill” 

Box-Folder 2.8: Transnationalism, 1998-2005

  • Presentation Slides “Mexican Transnationalism from Above and Below” Note: Slide 6 “Transnationalism from Below: At Community Level” mention of Mixteco Farmworkers in Salem, OR.
  • Guarnizo, Luis Eduardo, and Michael Peter Smith. “The Locations of Transnationalism.” Transnationalism from Below: Comparative urban and community research (1998): 3–34. 2 copies.
  • Goldring, Luin. “The Power of Status in Transnational Social Fields.” Transnationalism from Below: Comparative urban and community research (1998): 165–195.

Reparative Description of the N-word in SCARC’s Collections

In March 2023, a subset of archivists in our department began work on the challenging task of addressing the N-word within SCARC’s collection guides and digital objects. This project was launched as a component of a much larger effort to evaluate legacy description through an anti-racist lens, as led by the SCARC Arrangement and Description team.

A search of SCARC’s online resources revealed the presence of the N-word in fifteen oral history interview transcripts, three collection finding aids or container lists, three article or book manuscripts published on the SCARC website, and two event video transcripts that have also been published on the SCARC website. We addressed these instances in different ways, as follows.

Oral History Interviews

The N-word appeared most frequently in interviews conducted with members of the African American community, as housed in the African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection (OH 029) and the Oregon Black Pioneers Oral History Collection (OH 042). For both collections, we added a statement on description to the collection finding aids reading, “Please be aware that some of the contents in [this collection] may be disturbing or activating. In several instances, interviewees relay stories that recount a culture of racism and the use of racist, derogatory language toward African Americans, including the N word. Connected to this are stories of trauma, both personal and community-wide.” A similar statement was added to the finding aid for the Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Collection (OH 026), which includes multiple “stories that recount a culture of racism, sexism and homophobia, and the use of derogatory and harmful language.

In these and other instances, we also chose to add language to the abstracts used to describe oral history interviews as digital objects. For two particular interviews, we concluded abstracts as follows, “Throughout the interview, the narrator shares stories of persecution, abuse and subjugation of indigenous peoples. Connected to this are stories of trauma, both personal and community-wide. At one point in the interview, the narrator also uses racist, derogatory language to describe African Americans that is reflective of a broader culture of racism.

Another interview abstract required different language: “ […] Specifically, the interviewer and narrator refer to place names that reflect a culture of racism and the use of racist, derogatory language toward African Americans, including the N word.

Events Videos

Two past events recorded and transcribed by SCARC included use of or reference to the N-word. In one instance, a panel participant recalled his experience of being referred to by the slur, and in another case, a presenter displayed an archival document that used the term. For both resources, we added language to the event abstract warning users that aspects of the presentation may be disturbing or activating.

Article and Book Manuscripts

SCARC holds the papers of William Appleman Williams, a prominent radical historian who was a member of the OSU faculty in the 1970s and 1980s. As part of a past project, two article manuscripts as well as the text of an unpublished novel were released on the SCARC website. The articles included use of the N-word in reference to the historical treatment of African Americans, and the novel was reflective of Williams’ experience of race relations while on military assignment in Texas in the years following the conclusion of World War II. Neither of the articles were summarized with abstracts, so we chose instead to add parenthetical notes at the beginning of each piece, warning of Williams’ use of “racist, derogatory language to describe African Americans that is reflective of a broader culture of racism.” The unpublished novel is contextualized with a lengthy introduction, at the end of which we added a similar content warning.

Finding Aids and Container Lists

The presence of the N-word in three finding aids or container lists proved to be somewhat more difficult to address. In one instance, images of a location in Washington state that bore a racist place name were both cataloged in a collection container list, and also digitized and described in Oregon Digital. The location’s name was changed by the federal government in 1968, and we updated both the container list and the Oregon Digital records to indicate as much. However, we also chose to retain mention of the former name, with a note documenting the 1968 change.

In a second instance, a book title containing the N-word had been cataloged into the bibliography of a large collection finding aid. After discussion, we chose not to make any edits to the description for this item, since the bibliographic information for the book will remain permanent in library catalogs wherever this item is held.

Finally, another collection container list includes a description of a piece of logging equipment that appears to have been, perhaps formally, referred to in racist terms well into the twentieth century. We have contacted a colleague who is well-versed in the history of forestry to seek out an alternative term for the item, but have as yet not found a replacement name. As such, for the time being at least, this term remains extant in our collections descriptions, with the following additional context: “This name was given to a piece of equipment used to place logs in position on a carriage and to turn logs during sawing operations. Use of the term was commonplace in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” 

Relevant Collection Finding Aids and Digital Resources

Reparative Description of the Term “Squaw” in SCARC Collections

Oregon State University boasts the title of Oregon’s largest public research university with thirteen research and experiment stations across the state. Some of these stations have been associated with Oregon State for nearly a century. Among them is the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Recent archival work dealing with this experiment center and its previous names has led SCARC to evaluate the use of the term “squaw” in our collections as part of our ongoing work to address racist, outdated, and inaccurate descriptive language in our finding aids.

The word “squaw” is derogatory. Historically, it has been used as a misogynist and racist slur to disparage Indigenous American women. Even so, the United States Department of the Interior reported in 2021 that 650 geographic sites in the United States contained the term in their name, including Squaw Butte in Lake County, Oregon. In the same report, the department stated its intent to rename each of these sites. As of January 2023, many of these sites had been renamed. The landform in Lake County is now known as Stairstep Butte. 

As a landmark topographic feature, this butte influenced the establishments surrounding it. Among these establishments is the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Historically, this field station was named Squaw Butte Range Livestock Station after the nearby mountain peak. 

The previous name of this station came to light via work on the News and Communications Services Records. Among the thousands of biographical materials in this collection are those of Carl Lawrence Foster, who was a professor of agriculture who worked at the station beginning in 1970. After writing Foster’s biography, SCARC staff researched and compiled the history of the station with particular attention to its name changes over the years. 

Established in 1935, the Squaw Butte Range Livestock Station merged in 1944 with the Harney Branch Station. The newly-formed station was named the Squaw Butte Harney Range and Livestock Experiment Station. This was renamed the Squaw Butte Experiment Station in 1954. Another merger occurred in 1974 with the Eastern Oregon Experiment Station under directors Martin Vavra and R. J. Raleigh, forming the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center.  

Although the station’s name was changed, it was not changed as an acknowledgement of the harmful nature of the original. Even after the merger, the 16,000 acres that had previously been the Squaw Butte Experiment Station were still referred to colloquially as “Squaw Butte Station” for several years by locals and Oregon State employees alike, as evidenced in the Oregon’s Agricultural Progress publications from winter 1976 and spring 1981. It appears that this nickname waned in use in the early 1990s. 

After the historical context of this experiment station was established, SCARC looked to other uses of “squaw” in its collections in order to evaluate its use and provide a similar context. Many other uses of the slur were in reference to the Squaw Butte Experiment Station, as well as geographic features across Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, including valleys and creeks. Other times, the word was used in the context of colloquial species names, such as “squawfish” or “squaw grass”. However, in two collections (the Ralph I. Gifford Photographs and the Gerald W. Williams Prints and Postcards of Native Americans Collection), the slur is used to refer to Native American women. In both collections, the word is found in the captions and descriptions of images of these women.

SCARC acknowledges that the racism and misogyny represented by the term “squaw” may cause harm to our users. In order to provide historical context and enable standardized searching and access across our collections, we have retained the use of this phrase in collection descriptions. However, we have also added a note to each affected collection to inform users of its context, along with a link to the SCARC Special Collections and Archives Research Center Anti-Racist Actions website and this blog post. Providing access to these historical materials does not endorse any attitudes or behavior depicted therein. 

List of SCARC Collections Reviewed: 

This work was completed in large part due to the initiative of Grace Knutsen (Student Archivist) and the support of the Squaw subgroup: Anna Dvorak (Public Services Assistant), Natalia Fernández (Curator of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives), and Cydney Hill (University Records Manager).

Reparative Description of the Term “Internment” in SCARC

Contributed by Kevin Jones, Digital Collections and Metadata Archivist and Anne Bahde, History of Science and Rare Books Librarian

As part of our ongoing work to address racist, outdated, and inaccurate descriptive language in our finding aids, we recently looked at the use of the term “internment” and reviewed the descriptions in our collections for material related to Japanese and Japanese American incarceration in the United States during World War II. We relied heavily on the guidance and recommendations created by the Reparative Archival Description Task Force at Yale Library. This task force consulted with Japanese American community groups to identify preferred terms to replace terminology that was racist or erased the harm done to Japanese and Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II represented in archival collections. We highly recommend the use of these guidelines when undertaking similar work.

We reviewed the descriptions for seven collections in total. Several collections, such as the William H. Maas Scrapbook, the Hans Plambeck Papers, the Richard Y. Morita Papers, the Japanese-American Association of Lane County, Oregon, Oral History Collection, and the Rebecca Landis Papers, required fairly straightforward updating of legacy terms with alternative terms recommended from the Yale task force. Other collections, such as the Mildred and Frank Miles Scrapbook of the Santo Tomás Internment Camp, required more consideration of these terms within the context of the collection and the addition of more precise subject headings, such as Concentration camps — Philippines

Particularly regarding our collection of War Relocation Authority reports, the original descriptions in the finding aid mirrored the neutral social scientific language used in the reports. This “scientific” language erased the harm the incarceration and the act of researching imprisoned Japanese and Japanese Americans did to the prisoners. Following the guidelines, we attempted to replace existing language with recommended terms that more accurately reflects the damage done in and through these reports. “Internment” continues to show up in the finding aid where it is part of a formal name or title in keeping with the Yale guidance. This is both necessary because it is a matter of the historical record and also aids in research as many potential users have been educated using ‘internment’ as the reference term for Japanese American incarceration. We recognize that, while we attempted to be thorough, future revision to these and other descriptions may be necessary to further address as yet unrecognized bias. 

Internment subgroup: Kevin Jones, Digital Collections and Metadata Archivist; Anne Bahde, History of Science and Rare Books Librarian; Julie Judkins, Department Head

SCARC Anti-Racist Action: Addressing the Use of the Athletics-Related Phrase “Civil War”

As Beaver and Duck fans throughout Oregon prepare for the annual rivalry football game between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon this week, this post highlights recent work by Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) staff to address the use of the phrase “Civil War” to refer to the long-standing athletic rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.

As part of our ongoing commitment to engage in anti-racist archival practices, SCARC staff are identifying harmful language in our existing collection finding aids in order to change the language where appropriate or otherwise acknowledge it and give context for both its historic and continued use. For more information about our work, please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement online.

Within SCARC collections, the phrase “Civil War” – in reference to the OSU-UO football game – is used to describe materials related to the annual football game. The term is used by material creators, donors, and SCARC staff. In June 2020, Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray announced that the term “Civil War” will no longer be used by either university because it “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.” With this announcement, the use of the phrase “Civil War” in descriptions of our archival collections was identified by the SCARC staff as a high priority to be addressed as part of our anti-racism work. We developed a plan to take action. 

Step 1: Provide Historical Context 

The first step in that work was to have a SCARC student archivist research and prepare a blog post about the history of the athletic rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon and the use of the phrase “Civil War”. The student conducted this research in spring term 2021 and the blog post was completed in early summer 2021.

Step 2: Acknowledge the Term

SCARC staff agreed that creation and implementation of a statement addressing the use of this term in our collection descriptions was a high priority action for FY 2022. In October and November 2021, we collaboratively prepared the following statement, following the template we had developed in spring and summer 2021 for statements in other finding aids. 

We acknowledge that materials in SCARC collections and the language that describes them may be harmful. We are actively working to address our descriptive practices; for more information please see our SCARC Anti-Racist Actions Statement online.

The archivist-prepared description of this collection uses the phrase “Civil War” to refer to the long-standing athletic rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. A history of this athletic rivalry, and use of the phrase “Civil War” to describe it, is available online in The Origins of the “Civil War” Football Game blog post.

In June 2020, Oregon State University President Edward J. Ray announced that the term  “Civil War” will no longer be used by either university because it “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.”  

We acknowledge the racism represented by the use of this phrase and the harm it may cause our users. In order to provide historical context and to enable standardized searching and access across our collections, we have retained the use of this phrase in the collection description.  

[Date of acknowledgement: November 2021]

Step 3: Identify the Term within Collections 

In parallel with development of the statement, we identified which collection descriptions include the “Civil War” phrase in reference to the athletic rivalry. There were a total of 25 finding aids: 19 guides present both on the SCARC website and in Archives West and 6 guides available only on the SCARC website. In November 2021, the statement above was added to all of these guides.

We added a modified version of our statement to the top of the Athletics Digitized Videos page, and have also changed the section header that used to read “Civil War Football Games” to “Rivalry Games with the University of Oregon.” All of those games were called, for example, “Civil War Football Game, 1950,” and we’ve changed those to “UO vs. OSC, 1950,” etc. 

Step 4: Plan for Continued Action

We understand that our anti-racism work is continuous and on-going and is never fully completed. Therefore, we are committed to the following future steps:

  • This statement will be added to finding aids prepared in the future that include materials that use the phrase “Civil War” provided by creators or donors.
  • When a new phrase to refer to the athletic rivalry is identified by Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, the statement will be revised to include it. 
  • Once a new phrase to refer to the athletic rivalry is identified by Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, we will review descriptions of materials for archivist created metadata to address the use of the phrase. 

The Origins of the “Civil War” Football Game

The Serpentine | Oregon Digital

On a crisp autumn morning on November 3, 1894, the Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) Coyotes hosted the University of Oregon Lemon-Yellows for the inaugural football game between the two schools. The game was played on a field east of Community Hall (formerly the Administration Building), just north of present-day Callahan Hall. The game wasn’t much more than a scrimmage, and it didn’t draw any spectators. OAC had the edge, having established their football program the season prior, and they won the game handily, 16-0. For the next few years, the schools met in similarly low-stakes contests with little fanfare, or fans. There weren’t many in the Pacific Northwest who knew much about this new sport, often called gridiron football due to the field’s resemblance to a gridiron. Subsequently, coaches often moonlighted as officials, teams played with fewer players, and the general sentiment in Oregon was that it was a long, boring, and clumsy game. From the very beginning, the Coyotes and the Lemon-Yellows took turns hosting the game in either Eugene or Corvallis, sometimes playing twice in one year, once in each town.

What set the stage for the first game in what would become a nearly 100-year long tradition, came eighteen years prior, in 1873. The Massasoit Conventions – meetings of student leaders from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia – standardized the rules of American Football. These four schools were early pioneers of the sport and, along with Rutgers and Tufts, adapted American Football from British sports like rugby and soccer. Though the way the sport was played would see many changes in the years following the Conventions, these meetings marked the beginning of the expansion of organized college football. News of the meetings, and the finalized set of rules, was picked up by newspapers and publications across the nation, and the game’s popularity boomed. As more schools established their own programs, the rules were further refined. With its roots as a “mob game,” where the goal was simply to get the ball across the goal line by any means possible, in the early days of football a game could see as many as 25 players on the field for one team. By the time the Coyotes and the Lemon-Yellows first faced off in 1894, the number of players had been whittled down to the modern-day limit of 11 per team. In fact, by 1912, the game looked remarkably like it does today. The field had been scaled to its present-day dimensions: 120 yards by 53 1/3 yards. The most noteworthy differences between football of the 1900s and today are the scoring conventions. Unlike today, where the main scoring mechanism is a six-point touchdown, at the turn of the 20th century it was a five-point field goal. In 1894, touchdowns were worth four points, and conversions – a successful kick between rugby uprights – were an additional two points. Just four years later, in 1898, the scoring system was further revised, with touchdowns worth five points, field goals worth four points, and conversions scaled back to a single point.

After the two teams had a few seasons under their belts, the contest between OAC and the University of Oregon began to amass a dedicated, and sometimes rowdy, following. In 1908, the Aggies and the Webfoots faced off for the very first time in Multnomah Stadium [now Providence Park] in Portland, drawing a sellout crowd of 15,000, and completely shattering their previous record of just under 3,500 spectators. Oregon won that game, 8-0, with two field goals. The rivalry had gained traction in the state, but with that traction came conflict. Fights often broke out on train platforms after games, and just two years after the sellout in Portland, some “rowdy hat-grabbing behavior” prompted the OAC student body to unanimously vote to sever ties with Oregon athletics. Two years later, in 1912, the schools negotiated a truce, and agreed to play on Hudson Field in Albany, neutral territory. They continued to play in Albany until 1914, returning to alternating fields between Corvallis and Eugene.

Lemon squeezer for University of Oregon | Oregon Digital

The rivalry continued to grow, both in popularity and in contention, between the two schools. Due to the increasing attention garnered by the rivalry, each team’s gridirons were upgraded in the late 1910s and early 1920s. In 1910, OAC constructed Bell Field, on the very same spot where present-day Dixon Recreation Center now stands. Oregon built Hayward Field in 1919; in 1967, with the construction of Autzen Stadium, Hayward became Oregon’s dedicated track and field stadium. Tensions surrounding the rivalry continued to run high, and often reached a boiling point; fights were not uncommon, as were kidnappings of mascots and homecoming courts. The conflict surrounding the contest prompted Oregon head coach John McEwan (1926-1929) to refer to it as “the great Civil War.” The nickname slowly caught on in subsequent years, and by the late 1930s the rivalry was exclusively referred to as the Civil War (the 1938 Beaver yearbook was the first OSU student publication to use the moniker). This carried over almost immediately to contests in other sports played by the two teams. Whether it be football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport, fans referred to any head-to-head match between the schools as the Civil War game of that particular sport.

The football Civil War game was frequently played at Portland’s Multnomah Stadium during the 1930s, with games alternating annually between Hayward Field, Bell Field, and Multnomah Stadium. In 1943 and 1944, no football season was played by either team, as they simply couldn’t field enough players due to World War II. Between 1952 and 1953, Oregon State College built Parker Stadium (renamed Reser in 1999),  and the University of Oregon built Autzen Stadium. Having built new stadiums, and considering the age and general neglect of Multnomah Stadium, a more permanent location rotation was put into place for the Civil War, with the game alternating annually between Corvallis and Eugene. 

OSC vs. Oregon at Parker Stadium, 1954 | Oregon Digital

The game continued to grow in popularity into the 1960s, with tens of thousands of spectators regularly in attendance. The rivalry remained as heated as ever, and though there may have fewer physical altercations, the contest itself resulted in some truly memorable, and historic, games. Who could forget the humiliatingly named Toilet Bowl of 1983, a game plagued by turnovers and missed field goals, one in which the Beavers and Ducks fought their way to a nothing-nothing tie (the last scoreless tie in college football history)?  Or the 1998, double-overtime OSU victory, which Beaver fans celebrated by tearing up the artificial turf? Most recently, in the midst of a pandemic and in a stadium empty of fans, the Beavers squeaked out a three-point victory over the 15th ranked Ducks, the first time they’d beat a ranked opponent since 2014. As of 2020, the Civil War had been played 125 times, putting the rivalry in the top ten of the most-played college football series.

The history of the OSU-UO Civil War mirrors that of many other rivalries across the nation, in particular the other schools in the PAC-12 conference. All these schools have a similar rivalry, each with a name representative of their locale or history. The University of Washington plays Washington State University in the Apple Cup; Stanford University plays the University of California-Berkeley each year in the Big Game; the University of Southern California plays the University of California-Los Angeles in the Crosstown Cup; the University of Arizona plays Arizona State in the Territorial Cup; and the University of Colorado plays the University of Utah in their alliteratively-titled rivalry game, the Rumble in the Rockies. Each year, all these schools face off on the same weekend in November, fondly referred to as Rivalry Week. 

In 2020, after over 100 years, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University jointly announced they would no longer refer to the annual rivalry game as the “Civil War.” Amid protests surrounding racial injustice, and the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the two schools decided the name was insensitive, as it referenced “a war fought to perpetuate slavery.” In a statement on the decision to repeal the title, OSU President Ed Ray commented that “while not intended as reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competitions should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history.” The announcement was met with mixed reactions, with many claiming the moniker “never made sense” in the first place, and others asserting the change was “needless virtue signaling.” A new name has yet to be announced. 

Though the name will change, the rivalry and its physical expression will persist, as it has through six scoreless ties and two World Wars. The changing of the name moves OSU one tiny step closer to becoming a more welcoming and inclusive community, and comes with the opportunity to fashion a new name, one which will embody the true character of the rivalry and its schools. It could be called something elegant and historical, like the Oregon Classic. Perhaps it should hearken back to the little-known platypus trophy, given to the winner of the contest in the 1950s and 1960s – a trophy stolen so many times it was eventually locked in a closet at McArthur Court on the University of Oregon’s campus. Given the schools’ mascots, the Platypus Cup does seem entirely appropriate. Regardless of what it is called, there is no doubt, with its long and storied history, the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry will live on.

Works Consulted

  1. “1983 Oregon State vs. Oregon Football Game.” Wikipedia, 17 Jan. 2021. Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=1983_Oregon_State_vs._Oregon_football_game&oldid=1000872423.
  2. Adelson, Andrea. “Oregon, Oregon State Drop ‘Civil War’ Moniker.” ESPN.Com, 26 June 2020, https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/29370252/oregon-oregon-state-dropping-civil-war-name-rivalry-games.
  3. Canzano, John. “Canzano: 121 Things You Don’t Know about the Civil War Game.” Oregon Live, 22 Nov. 2017, https://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/2017/11/canzano_121_cool_things_you_do.html.
  4. Caputo, Paul. “Getting Our Webfeet in a Row: The Story Behind the Oregon Ducks.” SportsLogos.Net News, 27 Sept. 2014, https://news.sportslogos.net/2014/09/27/getting-our-webfeet-in-a-row-the-story-behind-the-oregon-ducks/college/.
  5. Carlson, Kip. Oregon State Football. Arcadia Publishing, 2006.
  6. “Chronological History of Oregon State University – 1950 to 1959.” OSU Libraries University Archives, 26 Sept. 2012, https://web.archive.org/web/20120926004224/http:/archives.library.oregonstate.edu/chronology/chron_1950.html.
  7. Edmunston, George. Up Close and Personal: Greatest Civil War Gameshttps://osughost.imodules.com/s/resources/templates/login/index.aspx?sid=359&gid=1&pgid=454. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  8. Etheridge, Steve. “The Original Rules of College Football.” ESPN.Com, 15 Aug. 2019, https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/27356104/the-original-rules-college-football.
  9. “Gameday Traditions.” Oregon State University Athleticshttps://osubeavers.com/sports/2013/7/9/208626262.aspx. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  10. History of Football – Football History | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Sitehttps://www.profootballhof.com/football-history/history-of-football/. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  11. Marwit, Dan. “Walter Camp: The Man Who Gave You Football.” The New York Public Library, February 3 20016, https://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/02/03/walter-camp-father-football.
  12. “Oregon–Oregon State Football Rivalry.” Wikipedia, 10 July 2021. Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Oregon%E2%80%93Oregon_State_football_rivalry&oldid=1032987468.
  13. Oriad, Michael. “Gridiron Football | Definition, History, Leagues, Rules, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannicahttps://www.britannica.com/sports/gridiron-football. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  14. Prince, Seth. “Civil War: The Complete Game-by-Game History.” Oregon Live, 23 Nov. 2008, https://www.oregonlive.com/behindbeaversbeat/2008/11/civil_war_the_complete_gamebyg.html.
  15. Rodman, Bob. “It’s Reser Stadium Now, OSU Fans.” Eugene Register-Guard, 15 June 1999, https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-1ZWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=o-sDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6205%2C3959757.
  16. The Beaver 1938 | Oregon State University Yearbooks | Oregon Digitalhttps://oregondigital.org/sets/osu-yearbooks/oregondigital:3t945r17t#page/1/mode/1up. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  17. University of Oregon. “Hayward Field.” University of Oregon Athletics, 5 Aug. 2003,https://goducks.com/news/2003/8/5/22187.aspx.
  18. Where’s Waldo? Exploring Waldo Hall History – Special Collections & Archives Research Centerhttp://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/omeka/exhibits/show/waldo/wartime/wwii. Accessed 21 July 2021.
  19. Ylen, Mark. “A Civil War History Lesson.” Albany Democrat Herald, 17 Nov. 2012, https://democratherald.com/news/local/a-civil-war-history-lesson/article_ddf67730-3088-11e2-aa43-0019bb2963f4.html.

Sydney Klupar graduated from Oregon State University with an Honors Bachelor of Science in environmental economics and policy in June 2021. She has worked at SCARC since September 2018, helping with a myriad of projects including transcription, processing, and description of archival collections. During her time at OSU, Klupar participated in many clubs, including the Spirit and Sound of OSU, the Oregon State University Marching Band. She is moving on to Lewis and Clark Law School and will graduate with a J.D. and L.L.M. in environmental, natural resource, and energy law in 2024.