The Horner Museum expressed an interest in conducting oral history interviews with OSU Microbiology Department staff Walter B. Bollen and Paul R. Elliker as early as 1979. This interest was not pursued until 1986 when John L. Fryer, then chair of the Microbiology department, approached the museum with a proposal that interviews be carried out with Bollen and Mabel Pernot. (Fryer shared the museum's desire that Elliker be interviewed, but none appear to have been conducted with him.) In 1986 and 1987, Horner Museum oral historian Jennifer Lee recorded three interviews with Walter Bollen and eight with Mabel Pernot. In both instances Lee sought to document the full history of the OSU Microbiology department and its antecedents as well as the biographies of her interviewees. In the case of Mabel Pernot, Lee expanded the scope of the project to capture a larger history of the Pernot and Coote families. Pernot also shared lengthy recollections of her interactions in the early 1900s with the Siletz tribe Native Americans at the Oregon Coast.
The resulting collection consists of interviews recorded to audiocassette (including duplicate copies of most interviews); project files consisting of correspondence, historical research materials and interview notes; draft transcripts; a final transcript of the Pernot interviews in typescript form; and multiple copies of the Bollen interviews published by the Horner Museum as a monograph. The collection also contains signed permissions forms and photographic slides, negatives and proofs. The photographic images include 35-mm slide portraits of Walter Bollen and Mabel Pernot taken in 1986-1987. Also included are negatives and black and white proofs of Microbiology department staff, activities and apparatus (including fermentation equipment) taken by Robert W. Henderson in 1964 and 1967.
The Bollen monograph features a table of contents and an introduction that incorporates a capsule biography of Walter Bollen. The publication is also divided up into chapters titled: "Early Life - Family, Employment and Education"; "College Studies and Military Duties"; "University Employment During the Twenties and Thirties"; and "Microbiology Research, Teaching and Students." The finalized Pernot typescript is likewise coupled with an introduction and is divided into chapters: "Pernot Family"; "Coote Family"; "Native Americans at the Coast"; "The Pernots in Corvallis and the Bacteriology Department at O.A.C."; "Friends and Colleagues"; "The Move to Portland (1910), Emile Becomes City and State Bacteriologist and Professor"; "Grandfather George Coote - Gardner and Professor at O.A.C."; "Mabel Works in Portland and Returns to Corvallis (1925); and "Mabel Works for Whiteside and O.S.U."
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