Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings, 1956-2012

Scope and Content Note

The History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings consist of 23 oral history interviews and 5 other sound recordings. The projects held in the collection are individually numbered OH03a:01 thru OH03a:20, OH03b:01 thru OH03b:05 and OH03c:01. The identifier "a" has been designated for projects originally recorded to reel-to-reel audiotape. The identifier "b" has been given to projects recorded to audiocassette and the identifier "c" to born digital projects. Sound recordings and transcripts are available for all components of the collection except two tape recordings of the Library dedication (OH03a:21). Interviews originally captured onto audiocassette have been digitized to *.wav format; these files are available by request of the Special Collections & Archives Research Center. The bulk of the oral histories held in this collection were conducted by Lillian Van Loan in 1956 (16 interviews) and Ilona Fry in 1980 (4 interviews).

Van Loan interviewed the following Oregon State faculty, administrators, and alumni: Major E.C. Allworth, E.B. Beaty, Ralph Besse, Arthur G.B. Bouquet, Ava B. Milam Clark, Bertha Davis, Melissa Martin Dawes, Henry Hartman, Helen Holgate, E.B. Lemon, Lora Lemon, C.V. Ruzek, J.W. Sherburne, Gertrude Strickland, E.W. Warrington, Jessamine Williams, and May Workinger. The interviews address a variety of topics including the development of academic programs at Oregon State; campus buildings and facilities; college presidents, especially William Jasper Kerr and Thomas M. Gatch; programs and activities during World War II; agricultural research and the Experiment Station; the establishment and growth of the Memorial Union; and student activities.

Ilona Fry interviewed four Oregon State alumni, faculty, and administrators in 1980: Gordon W. Gilkey, J. Granville Jensen, Miriam Orzech, and Linus Pauling. The interview of Gordon Gilkey documents Gilkey's work with the restitution of artworks in Europe after World War II, his years as a faculty member and administrator at Oregon State, and the development of humanities and social science academic programs. Jensen's interview provides information about the geography and natural resources academic programs at Oregon State; the relationship between the geography departments at OSU and the University of Oregon; international programs; and geography faculty. The Orzech interview is focused on the Educational Opportunities Program and academic support services for minority students at Oregon State; Orzech discusses the Chicano Student Union, Black Student Union, and Native American Students Association as well as racial prejudice in Corvallis. Pauling discusses a variety of topics in his interview, including his Nobel Prizes, the effects of Vitamin C, his student years at Oregon Agricultural College, his peace activities and protests against nuclear testing, and his chemistry research.

Three of the oral histories in the collection were conducted by other interviewers. The interview of Oliver V. Matthews was conducted in 1959 by Dean McCulloch and Charles Ross and addresses Matthews' explorations and study of Oregon trees. The interview of Nona Snell was conducted in 1974 by Veronica Sitton; Snell discusses her husband's aunt, Margaret Snell, the homes that Snell built on Monroe Avenue, and her involvement with the Village Improvement Society and the planting of trees in Corvallis. The interview of William Robbins was conducted in 2012 by Chris Petersen and focuses on Robbins' recollections of noted revisionist historian William Appleman Williams.

The collection includes several other sound recordings, including a lecture by Ava Milam Clark in 1963 on her personal philosophy and the early history of home economics at Oregon State; farewell speeches by the wives of Oregon State Presidents, James H. Jensen and A.L. Strand, on the occasion of the Jensens' departure from Oregon State in 1969; and This is OSU recorded in 1962 for the Voice of America. A recording of students in the Air Force Cadet Moonflight Simulator is also included as are two audiotapes of the Library dedication. The Library dedication tapes are undated, but are likely of the 1963 dedication of the new Kerr Library building.

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