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Douglas C. Strain Papers, 1914-2007

By Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Nielsen.

Collection Overview

Title: Douglas C. Strain Papers, 1914-2007

Predominant Dates: 1970-2000

ID: MSS Strain

Primary Creator: Strain, Douglas C.

Extent: 16.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Douglas C. Strain Papers consist of materials generated and assembled by Strain and document his establishment of Electro Scientific Industries (ESI) and professional and philanthropic activities as well as his family. Strain founded Electro Scientific Industries, a manufacturer of precision instrumentation and laser fabrication systems, in Portland, Oregon, in 1953. He was actively involved in a civic organizations and boards and supported a number of projects at Oregon higher education institutions, including Oregon State University.

Scope and Content Notes

The Douglas C. Strain Papers consist of materials generated and assembled by Strain and document his establishment of Electro Scientific Industries (ESI); his participation in professional, civic, and philanthropic activities; awards and honors he received; and his family. The papers include correspondence, newspaper clippings, notebooks, photographs, publications, reference materials, sound recordings, speeches, videotapes, and a DVD.

The collection includes annual reports, newsletters, board meeting minutes, and financial information for Electro Scientific Industries (ESI). Extensive materials pertaining to Strain's membership on various boards, including the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Oregon Health Sciences University, Pacific University Board of Directors, American Committee for the College of the Cayman Islands, OSU Advisory Council for the Center for Advance Materials Research, City Club of Portland, and Oregon Innovation Network, are included. The reference materials address a variety of topics such as adoption of the metric system in the United States, nuclear power, business management, energy consumption, and health.

The photographs include about 700 color slides and 150 prints; these include self-portraits of Strain; images of family vacations, ESI employees, Douglas Strain as a child, and Clayton Strain's student years at Oregon Agricultural College; graphics prepared for metric education; and slide presentations by Strain. The sound recordings consist of 8 audiocassetes and one open reel audiotape pertaining to the history of Strain's family, the Harris Trust, and the 1969 Instrument Society of America conference. The videotapes include footage of a 1991 trip to Hawaii and the retirement of ESI employee Jack Burraston. A DVD documenting Strain's life and involvement in community organizations and philanthropy, The Everyday Philanthropist, includes interviews with Strain and his daughter.

Materials documenting Clayton Strain's student years at Oregon Agricultural College in the 1910s and his association with the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and the Umatilla Club are also part of the collection. The papers also include Oregon State commencement programs and lists of alumni for class reunions.

A history of Electro Scientific Industries written by Marshall M. Lee in 1999 is part of the collection.

An addition to the Strain Papers (Accession 2009:076) is made up of the book "A Passion for Quality: The First Fifty-Five Years of Electro Scientific Industries" and the DVD "The Everyday Philanthropist." The book, written by Marshall Lee, details Strain's creation of the Electro Scientific Industries company. Documenting Strain's life and involvement in community organizations and philanthropy, the DVD includes interviews with Strain and his daughter Barbara. The DVD was produced by OSU and received a bronze "Telly Award."

Biographical / Historical Notes

Douglas C. Strain was the founder, chairman, and CEO of Electro Scientific Industries (ESI) and was instrumental in the establishment of the high-technology and electronics industry in Oregon. After working as a design engineer for several southern California electronic and instrument companies, he founded Electro Measurements with his father, Clayton Strain, and several Cal Tech classmates in 1953. Strain retired as CEO in 1980, but continued as chairman, and later vice chairman, of the board until his full retirement in 1999.

Strain was active in a variety of professional, civic, and philanthropic organizations and received numerous honors and awards. He actively supported numerous higher education projects in Oregon, including building campaigns at Oregon State University and Portland State University, and was a member of the Pacific University Board of Trustees.

Douglas Campbell Strain was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1919 and lived in Idaho and California as a child. He graduated from Pasadena Junior College in 1941 and from California Institute of Technology in 1948. He died in Portland, Oregon, in 2008.

Douglas' parents, Clayton Preston Strain and Edith Crockatt Strain, both attended Agricultural College and earned BS degrees in 1915. His father, Clayton Strain, also earned an MS in Dairy Manufacturing in 1917. Clayton Strain and Edith Crockatt were married in 1918.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 850 photographs, 3 videotapes, and 1 DVD; 16 boxes

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The papers were donated to the Archives by a representative of Strain's family in 2009.

Related Materials: A 1974 publication by Clayton Strain about the Umatilla Club and Lambda Chi Alpha is part of the OSU Memorabilia Collection (MSS MC) file "MC-Lambda Chi Alpha".

Preferred Citation: Douglas C. Strain Papers (MSS Strain), 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 November 14, 2014.


Strain, Douglas C.
Electro Scientific Industries, Inc.
Lee, Marshall M.
Strain, Clayton Preston

People, Places, and Topics

Electronic industries--Oregon--Portland.
Fund raising--Oregon.
History of Science
Lambda Chi Alpha
Oregon Agricultural College--Students.
Oregon State University--Alumni and alumnae.
Strain, Douglas C.
Student activities--Oregon--Corvallis.
Universities and colleges--Oregon--Corvallis.
University History

Forms of Material

Photographic prints.
Slides (photographs).
Video recordings (physical artifacts)

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