The Harvey L. McAlister Collection consists of materials assembled by McAlister that document his student years at Oregon Agricultural College and his service in the Spanish-American War.
The materials from his student years include a scrapbook of clippings about the first years of football at Oregon Agricultural College in 1893-1897, photographs, and his diplomas. In addition to football clippings, the scrapbook includes clippings about OAC students and Corvallis; several ephemeral items; and articles about Oregon and Washington history especially Dr. Marcus Whitman.
The photographs include portrait photographs of McAlister and images of groups of students; military cadets; and campus views and buildings, including Benton Hall, the greenhouse and horticulture building, Mechanical Hall, Alpha Hall, and the octagonal barn. One of the photographs was made by Pernot Brothers, of Corvallis. Of particular note are several Christmas cards showing either Mount Hood or Benton Hall.
The Spanish-American War materials include Spanish-American War veterans publications, Philippine newspapers published in Manila in 1898-1899, and several photographs of Oregon veterans made in the 1920s.
The McAlister Collection also includes several early American newspapers. These include two issues of the Boston Weekly Magazine (May 25 and July 27, 1805) and one issue of the Independent Messenger (September 9, 1831), published in Mendon, Massachusetts.
An addition to the McAlister Collection (Accession 2013:054) consists of letters from McAlister to Charlotte "Lottie" Herbert Blake and a portrait shot of McAlister in military dress. McAlister wrote the letters while stationed in the Philippines during the Spanish- American War in 1898. In the letters, McAlister describes how his regiment is faring in the tropical climate, the food given to the troops, his thoughts on the Spanish presence in Manila, local meetings of the YMCA, health/mortality among the troops in the regiment, local currency, and the state of mail service. Found with these letters is a note from Lottie to former student Norman Hindes, to whom she gave the letters and photograph. McAlister enclosed the portrait of himself in uniform to Lottie in one of the letters.