Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Robert W. Henderson Papers, 1933-2003

Scope and Content Note

The Robert W. Henderson Papers document Henderson’s research as a plant breeder, including his work at the University of Minnesota during World War II to domesticate the Russian Dandelion (Kok-Saghyz) as an emergency source of natural rubber; his role as Chief Advisor for the cooperative research program between Oregon State College and Kasetsart University in Thailand in the late 1950s and early 1960s; his long-time interest in photography; and the slide presentations about OSU agricultural research that he developed and presented throughout the state.

The papers include biographical information, correspondence, research notes, photographs, architectural drawings, newspaper clippings, notebooks, photographs, publications, slide show scripts, speeches, sound recordings, and films as well as student memorabilia and other ephemera. The photographs primarily depict Henderson's Russian dandelion research; images of the OSU greenhouses, the Junior Agricultural Research Scientists’ Institute on campus, and a retirement reception for Dean Earl Price are also included.

The sound recordings include Henderson's slide presentations, Magic of Research, Scientists at Work, Benton County Country, and This is Oregon State; Experiment Station public service announcements; interviews with OSU faculty Warren Kronstad, Boersma, Wilber Cooney, John Bieber, and OSU President Robert MacVicar; special events such as the Marine Science Center dedication and an OSU Marching Band performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco; and agricultural topics such as animal waste disposal, the Willamette airshed, the protein value of pork, and the Oregon beef industry; an interview with Governor Tom McCall; Triad Club meetings; and testimony before a 1975 legislative committee

One motion picture film includes footage from a Junior Agricultural Research Scientists' Institute (JARSI) workshop. "Home is Where the Heart Is" is a videotape interview of Bob and Alice Henderson made by their daughter, Alice Rampton in 1993-1994 at several locations on campus and at various houses where the Hendersons lived in Corvallis. The interview documents the Hendersons' student days, their early married years, neighbors connected with the university, household wares, and Bob's teaching career.

An addition to the Henderson Papers (Accession 2009:045) consists of Henderson's work for the Agricultural Experiment Station as well as his experience as an undergraduate at Oregon State in the 1930s. Materials include correspondence, event programs, newspaper clippings, photographs, publications, reports, sound recordings, speeches, student papers, and tags for photographer access to events. Nearly half of this accession pertains to Henderson's work as chief advisor for the cooperative research program between Oregon State College and Kasetsart University in Thailand from 1959 to 1960. These items include correspondence and news clppings about articles and essays by Henderson critical of American foreign aid programs in Thailand. Respondents documented in these letters include political figures Richard Nixon, Wayne Morse, and Hubert Humphrey. The early development of the Peace Corps Program is also addressed in these materials. Correspondence pertaining to Henderson's work with the USDA Rubber Plant Investigations Lab and Cornell University during World War II can also be found in this transfer.

Numbering a total of about 500 images (350 prints and 150 negatives), the photographs depict Thai visitors to OSU engaged in dance, agricultural research in Thailand, the OSU Marching Band playing at football games, views of campus, OSU band practice, and Hillary Clinton's visit to OSU in 1996. The sound recordings mostly document Agricltural Research and Advisory Council and Triad Club meetings and are made up of 6 cassette tapes and one reel-to-reel tape. Items from Henderson's student years include class notes, research papers, a grade report, a flyer for his presidential candidancy, photographs, and event programs of campus activities.

A second addition to the Henderson Papers (Accession 2010:087) is made up of materials generated and collected by alumnus and Agricultural Experiment Station Assistant Director Henderson. Reflecting Henderson's student experience at OSC, his photography, and slide show presentation work, this transfer includes thank you letters to Henderson from Bellfountain School students, a newsletter with a photo credit for Henderson, a commencement program (1972) with notations, notebook dividers with class schedule information (1938), and an article about Henderson's slide presentations. There are also three photographs (two prints and one negative) depicting aerial views of the Lewis-Brown Farm.


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