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Robert W. Henderson Papers, 1933-2005

By Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Nielsen.

Collection Overview

Title: Robert W. Henderson Papers, 1933-2005

Predominant Dates: 1933-1980

ID: MSS Henderson

Primary Creator: Henderson, Robert W. (Robert Wesley) (1914-2006)

Extent: 12.1 cubic feet. More info below.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Robert W. Henderson Papers document Henderson's student years at Oregon State College; his work with Kasetsart University in Thailand; his resarch as a plant breeder and an Assistant Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station; his long-time interest in photography; and the slide presentations he developed about OSU agricultural research. Henderson graduated from Oregon State College in 1938 and served as a faculty member and administrator at OSU from 1946 until his retirement in 1976.

Scope and Content Notes

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. "Home is Where the Heart Is" has been digitized and made available online. A duplication master is available.

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.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Bob Henderson’s connection with OSU spanned more than 70 years from 1933, when he enrolled as a freshman from Hermiston, until his death in early 2006. During this time he served student body president in 1937-1938, earned a BS in agronomy in 1938, and served as a Farm Crops faculty member and Assistant Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1946 until his retirement in 1976. Henderson completed a masters degree at Cornell University and a Ph.D. in plant genetics at the University of Minnesota in 1949.

Henderson was an avid photographer and carried a camera wherever he went on or off campus; he was well-known throughout Oregon for his slide presentations to schools and clubs on OSU's agricultural research. His 30-year retirement was an active one as he became known for his expertise in numismatics, participated in Triad Club and other OSU activities, and continued as a ubiquitous photographer.

Alice Welbes graduated from Oregon State College in 1937. She and Henderson married in 1938.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 1,150 photographs, 128 sound recordings, 4 films, and 1 video; 11 boxes, including 1 oversize box

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Related Materials: An extensive collection of the Robert Henderson photographs are available as a separate collection, the Robert W. Henderson Photographs (P 098). Materials pertaining to Experiment Station administration and agricultural research programs in Oregon are available in the Agricultural Experiment Station Records (RG 025).

Preferred Citation: Robert W. Henderson Papers (MSS Henderson), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: This collection is not fully processed; this guide is preliminary.

Other URL: A preliminary container list was created for this collection on or before January 12, 2016.


Henderson, Robert W. (Robert Wesley) (1914-2006)

People, Places, and Topics

College students--Oregon--Corvallis.
Corvallis (Or.)
Henderson, Robert W. (Robert Wesley), 1914-2006
History of Science
Local History
Mahāwitthayālai Kasētsāt
Natural Resources
Oregon Multicultural Archives
Oregon State College--Students.
Oregon State College. Agricultural Experiment Station
Oregon State University. Agricultural Experiment Station
University History

Forms of Material

Architectural drawings (visual works)
Film negatives.
Motion pictures (visual works)
Photographic prints.
Sound recordings.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.