Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Brooks and Melba Labbe Caldwell Collection, 1851-1985

Scope and Content Note

The Brooks and Melba Labbe Caldwell Collection contains materials generated, collected, and assembled by Brooks Caldwell and his wife Melba Labbe. Documenting their educational histories, professional lives, and social interests, this collection includes certificates, photographs, postcards, publications, an account ledger, and a scrapbook.

The certificates document Brooks Caldwell's education in Fresno, California, and at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), his military service in World War II, and his certification as a pharmacist and teacher. Items pertaining to Melba Labbe Caldwell in this series include documentation of her training as a florist and stock certificates of her business. The record of the Caldwells' marriage, as well as the one for Brooks' parents, Jess Caldwell and Hattie Brooks, can be also be found in this series.

The bulk of the publications in series II were collected by Brooks in his association with Fresno High School and Oregon State University. The OSU materials reflect Brooks' involvement both as a student (campus event programs, fraternity and honorary society member) and later as an alumnus (President's Club). Other publications include a promotional magazine for Melba's flower shop Flowers By Melba.

The scrapbook, assembled by Melba, primarily consists of newspaper clippings from the Oregonian and the Oregon Journal, but also includes brochures, correspondence and a few photographs. Documenting Melba's career as a sculptor's model (in particular, her work for the 1925 Rose Festival), the clippings also pertain to Melba's florist business, the local chapter of the Oregon Women's Ambulance Corps and Women's Army Corps, the activities of Daughters of the Nile, and various news stories on her family. Items that were found loose or dislodged in the scrapbook have been placed in separate folders and include newspaper clippings, brochures, correspondence, and copies of government documentation from France relating to the consulship of Melba's relative, Antoine Labbe.

The account ledger documents expenditures and receipts for Melba's floral businesses. Series V consists of postcards collected by Brooks and Melba from various hotels and tourist attractions in the Western U.S. The ephemera in series VI consists of road maps, a restaurant menu, an invitation to a Rose Festival ball, a souvenir set of matches from the Golden Gate International Exposition, a Chinese wall hanging, and other items.

In addition to portraits of Melba, the photographs also portray the Caldwells with friends and family, the pharmacy and flower shop managed by Brooks and Melba, the Caldwells in military service, Melba's involvement with the Daughters of the Nile, and Brooks' residence in Tigard. Images of Brooks and his classmates (mostly in reunion gathering group shots) at Oregon Agricultural College can also be found in this series.

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