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Lester M. Leland Papers, 1894-1938

By Rachel Lilley and Sydney Klupar

Collection Overview

Title: Lester M. Leland Papers, 1894-1938

Predominant Dates: 1894-1924

ID: MSS Leland

Primary Creator: Leland, Lester M. (1871-1956)

Extent: 0.1 cubic feet. More info below.

Date Acquired: 00/00/1996

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Lester M. Leland Papers consist of several items from Leland's student years at OAC including items of memorabilia, correspondence, reports, Leland's diploma, two pieces of letterhead printed by Leland, a zoology sketchbook and organic chemistry notebook. Lester M. Leland graduated from Oregon Agricultural College in 1895 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture.

Scope and Content Notes

The Lester M. Leland Papers are comprised of materials created or collected during Leland's student years at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) including memorabilia, correspondence, reports, and materials related to his coursework.

The correspondence in the collection is comprised of three complete letters and part of a fourth. All the letters are addressed to Eunice Courtwright in the Alumni Office. All four pieces of correspondence detail Leland’s recollections of OAC during his tenure as a student. Subjects discussed in the correspondence include: the social aspects of being a student, including football games, the cost of meals on campus, and mandatory attendance at chapel; professors, including Emile Pernot, George Coote, Moses Craig, and Frederick Berchtold; and anecdotes about assorted on-campus antics. Three items are included with the correspondence: a news clipping of a piece Leland wrote for the Oregon City Enterprise, “Agricultural College Notes;” a note signed by President John Bloss excusing Leland from classes; and a copy of the 1895 Senior Class song. The news clipping, dated 1894, includes a description of a football match between the “Oregon Agricultural College and the State University teams.” The clipping also notes that Leland was chosen as president of the Ciceronian Literary Society.

The memorabilia in the collection includes a blank Ciceronian Literary Society meeting form, with spaces to document the names of each of the Readers, Essayists, Declaimers, and Debaters performing at each meeting. Also included among the memorabilia are a piece of State Agricultural College Printing Department letterhead, listing Lester M. Leland as Printer and dating from the 1890s, and a booklet published in celebration of the Silver Jubilee Reunion for the Class of 1899. Leland’s diploma – for a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture – is also included among the memorabilia (Box 02).

The course work in the collection includes three copies of a report – “Laboratory Studies: State Agricultural College, Zoology,” – written by F.L. Washburn on “work done in the Zoological Department during the Fall and Winter terms of 1894-5.” The report details student research completed in Physiology, Ornithology, and Zoology classes, and includes copies of drawings done by the students. A drawing of the magnified intestine of a fish – drawn by Leland – is included on page 9. Class-related materials also include notes taken by Leland for an Organic Chemistry course taught by professor G. W. Shaw in spring 1894. A sketchbook, which includes sketches of bones (e.g. lumbar vertebrae, ribs, scapula, tibia, sacrum) and samples of various substances under magnification (e.g. bone, skin, and blood) is also included.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Lester Marven Leland was born to Levi and Caroline “Carrie” Newell Leland on March 11th, 1871 near Oregon City, Oregon – by his own accounts in a “log cabin on Beaver Creek, three miles east of New Era” (a small community southwest of Oregon City). Between 1871 and 1880, the family briefly relocated to San Jose, California, where Lester’s father worked as a lecturer for the Independent Order of Good Templar (later the International Organization of Good Templars). Shortly after the death of her and Levi’s first child, Lucy, in 1881, Caroline died, and Lester spent the next three years living with friends while attending Mount Pleasant School in Oregon City, and later the “school at Canby.” In 1885, he returned to his father’s home, where he lived until matriculating at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) in 1892.

After graduation in 1895, Leland returned to farm his portion of his father’s land near Oregon City. A year later he returned to OAC to work in the Printing Office as College Printer, taking the place of H.R. Clark who had recently passed away. In June 1897, he left his position at OAC, and took an on-call / substitute position with the Railway Mail Service, working the Albany and Yaquina Railway Post Office (RPO) route; by May 1898, he’d secured a full-time, permanent position as a railway mail clerk. In December of that year, he was transferred to the Portland and San Francisco RPO route, a position he held for the next twenty years. Leland met school teacher May T. Tiffany while delivering mail in Ashland; the two married April 15th, 1903, and had a daughter, Lucile, in 1904. Lucile is also an OAC alum, graduating in 1926 with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics. Sadly, May was struck and killed by a drunk driver November 5, 1927; Leland didn’t marry again until 1941.

While working as a mail clerk, Leland took night courses in pharmacy; he was officially registered as a pharmacist in 1914. In 1917, he left the railway mail service and, together with his half-brother William, purchased the drug store at 394 Morrison Street in Portland, renaming it Leland Drug Company. When Lucile graduated from OAC in 1926, she moved to Portland to work with her father. Lester, William, and Lucile owned and operated the Leland Drug Company until 1933, when it was sold. Leland “retired” in 1934, though he continued to work part time at the Rose City Park Pharmacy and the Jones Drug Company, both in Portland, Oregon.

Leland married Lillian Sigrist on October 11th, 1941 in Portland. Leland was active in Portland-area civic and professional associations, serving as President of the Exchange Club, the Portland Kiwanis Club, the Portland Retail Druggist Association, and the Railway Mail Clerks’ Association (Portland branch). Lester M. Leland died in 1956 in Portland, Oregon.

In 1961, the estate of the late Lucile Leland Holman made a $10,000 scholarship fund bequest in the memory of her father. The scholarship was used annually to “provide scholarships for worthy students who might otherwise be prevented from attending.”

Author: Sydney Klupar and Rachel Lilley

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 2 boxes, including 1 oversize box

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The materials were transferred to the former University Archives from the Horner Museum in 1996.

Related Materials:

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center houses many collections assembled by students during their time at Oregon State. Collections documenting the student experience at Oregon Agricultural College in the 1890s include the Edmund R. Lyman Diary (MSS Lyman), the Ivy G. Burton Collection (MSS Burton), the Milton O. Stemmler Student Diary (MSS Stemmler), and the Student Handbooks (PUB 010-23a).

Additional materials and collections documenting instruction in Organic Chemistry, Zoology, and Agriculture at Oregon State University include the Zoology Department Records (RG 074), the College of Science Records (RG 024), the Chemistry Department Records (RG 098), the College of Agricultural Sciences Records (RG 158), the Agriculture Photograph Collection (P 040), and the General Catalogs.

Preferred Citation: Lester M. Leland Papers (MSS Leland), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Processing Information: Materials that were part of the Memorabilia Collection, including the letters from Leland to Eunice Cartwright, were transferred to this collection when it was established in 1996.

Finding Aid Revision History: This finding aid replaces information placed online about the collection in 2012.


Leland, Lester M. (1871-1956)

People, Places, and Topics

Chemistry--Study and teaching (Higher)--Oregon--Corvallis.
College students--Oregon--Corvallis--Social life and customs.
Leland, Lester M., 1871-1956
Oregon Agricultural College--Students.
University History
Zoology--Study and teaching (Higher)--Oregon--Corvallis.

Forms of Material


Creative Commons License
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