Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Horner Museum Oral History Collection, 1952-1993

Scope and Content Note

The Horner Museum Oral History Collection (OH 10) is chiefly comprised of oral history materials either generated by the museum's staff or produced by OSU faculty, students and staff and subsequently accessioned into the museum's collections. The collection consists of audiocassettes and, in most cases, a coupled project file which might contain a preliminary or finalized transcript as well as research notes and photographs. The collection also contains administrative records including correspondence, interview abstracts, release forms, photographic negatives, cassette tape logs and various other work files.

In its present form, the Horner Museum Oral History Collection is significantly smaller than was once the case, as many of the dedicated oral history projects conducted by the museum have been removed and described as distinct collections of their own. A full itemization of these collections is contained in the Processing Information of this finding aid.

The extant contents of the Horner Museum Oral History Collection are comprised mostly of two sets of materials: interviews conducted by museum staff with regional figures of interest or in support of small thematic projects; and assorted interviews conducted by OSU students for class purposes. The collection also includes a significant cache of material produced by individuals - likely community members or OSU staff - not obviously associated with the museum or with a course of university study.

The interviews conducted by Horner staff tended to focus on one of four general areas: university history, regional community history, natural resource use in Oregon, and the experience of ethnic minorities in Oregon, with a particular focus on Native American history. Within these groupings, several small projects can be identified. Horner staff, for example, devoted time to interviewing alumni visiting campus for Golden Jubilee celebrations or Memorial Union Alumni Day. Likewise, concentrated efforts to document the experience of Corvallis-area doctors (Bahrs and Bell) and the local Jewish population (Goheen, Goldberg, Gordon, Loney, Orzech, Philipp and Schecter) are evident within the collection. Similar initiatives sought to capture the stories of the DeMoss Family Lyric Bards of Oregon, the Wallis Nash family, the Winema National Forest and Harney County's Welsh community. Though many interviewers contributed to the museum's efforts, the majority of the sessions actually produced by the organization were conducted by Jennifer A. Lee, sometimes in collaboration with her husband, Royal G. Jackson, an OSU Forestry faculty member.

Additional interviews with residents of Harney County (Cross, G. Crow, J. Crow, Dodson, Fine, Guinie, Heinz, Jenkins), conducted in 1979, address interactions between Paiute Native Americans and early white settlers in the Burns area, early 20th century life in Burns, and the construction of the Oregon Northwestern Railroad between Seneca and Burns. Several of these interviews were transcribed by staff and volunteers of the Harney County Library in 2006.

Interviews with several notable Oregon State faculty and administrators are held within the collection. Prominent among these names are: Alan B. Berg, Eva Blackwell, Walter B. Bollen, Fred Decker, John C. Garman, Delmer M. Goode, E.B. Lemon, Harriet Moore, Miriam Orzech, Dan W. Poling, T.J. Starker, Betty Lynd Thompson and Chih H. Wang.

The student projects held in this collection mostly appear to be the product of class assignments, often within the Department of Anthropology. Many student interviews were conducted with members of a given interviewer's family and, as such, tend to document the lives of Americans born in the early decades of the 1900s. Also included is a 1986 student project of some consequence - 16 interviewees - focusing on the local population of ethnic minorities. An additional student project, 1981's "Contemporary Lifestyles at Oregon State University," analyzed student attitudes toward controversial issues including recreational drug use and pre-marital sex.

Biographical and content notes have been included with each set of interviews as available. These notes are generally included in Series I with finding aid entries for specific sets of audiocassettes. In certain cases where a transcript or project file remains extant but an audiocassette does not, the biographical and content notes have been included in Series II. Likewise, though they are no longer relevant to internal SCARC processes, Horner Museum accession numbers have been retained as numerous documents within the collection refer to projects using these numbers and no other identifiers.

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