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Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection, 1992

By Finding aid prepared by Elizabeth Nielsen, with updates by Chris Petersen.

Collection Overview

Title: Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection, 1992

ID: OH 008

Primary Creator: Johnston, Candace G.

Extent: 0.15 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement:

Materials are arranged into two series. An alphabetical view of the oral history interviewees whose recordings are held in this collection is as follows:

Adolf, Leonard Two interviews: October 24, 1992; November 16, 1992 Bevens, Eldon Two interviews: October 22, 1992; November 9, 1992 Burien, Lena (October 12, 1992) Kalb, George Two interviews: October 31, 1992; November 2, 1992 Kalb, June Two interviews: October 31, 1992; November 2, 1992 Mikesell, O.E. (Oscar Edwin) Two interviews: October 31, 1992; November 22, 1992

Languages of Materials: English [eng]

Abstract

The Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection consists of interviews conducted in 1992 by Oregon State University students of five individuals familiar with farm labor in Oregon during World War II.

Scope and Content Notes

The Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection consists of five interviews conducted in 1992 of individuals familiar with farm labor in Oregon during World War II. The interviews were conducted by Oregon State University students in cooperation with the University Archives in preparation for the exhibit: Fighters on the Farm Front: The Emergency Farm Labor Service in Oregon, 1943-1947.

Interviews of the following individuals are included in the collection: Leonard Adolf; Eldon Earl Bevens; Lena Burien; George and June Kalb; and O.E. Mikesell. The primary topics addressed in the interviews are rural and farm life; work in canneries, mills, and a tannery; and life on the Oregon homefront during World War II.

The interview with Leonard Adolf address his work on farms in eastern Colorado and Washington as a child and young adult; his education and career as a history professor; his research in Asian history; and his participation in protests against the Vietnam War.

Bevens' interview includes information about the role of his tannery in the war effort and the use of emergency farm labor on farms in the Dallas, Oregon, area. Lena Burien describes home and farm life during the Great Depression and war years, gardening, canning, and growing crops for the local canneries; and her own children and grandchildren. The interview with George and June Kalb includes information about work in canneries and mills during World War II, rationing and sources of food during wartime, and their own experiences picking berries and hops as children.

O.E. Mikesell describes his work with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and as an Extension Agent, especially in food production during the war and the recruitment and assignment of farm workers.

The collection includes audiocassette tapes of the interviews, transcripts, brief biographical information, and interview logs for some of the interviews. There are two tapes each for three of the interviews (Adolf, Bevens, and Kalbs) and one tape for each of the other two interviews (Burien and Mikesell). A CD use copy of the Mikesell interview is also available.

The interviews were conducted during fall term of 1992 by students in the Oral Traditions course (Anthropology 498) taught by Joan Gross. Interviewers were Teré Herrera (interviewed Burien and the Kalbs), Candace Johnston (interviewed Adolf), Dawn A. Stetler (interviewed Bevens), and Daniel Pike (interviewed Mikesell).

Signed permissions forms are included in the transcript folders for interviewees Adolf, Bevens and Mikesell.

The entirety of this collection has been digitized as a preservation measure. Preservation .wav files and access .mp3 files created by this process are available upon consultation with SCARC staff.

Biographical / Historical Notes

The Emergency Farm Labor Service in Oregon was sponsored by the Oregon State College Extension Service to ensure an adequate farm labor supply during World War II and the years immediately after. Between 1943 and 1947, Oregon's Emergency Farm Labor Service assisted with over 900,000 placements on the state's farms, trained thousands of workers of all ages, and managed nine farm labor camps. Farm laborers included urban youth and women, soldiers, white collar professionals, displaced Japanese- Americans, returning war veterans, workers from other states, migrant workers from Mexico and Jamaica, and even German prisoners-of-war.

Leonard Adolf was born in 1921 in Bethune, Colorado and lived and worked on farms in Colorado and Washington. He earned his B.A. (1946) and Ph.D. (1953) degrees from the University of Washington. He joined the faculty of the Oregon State College History Department in 1955 and retired as Professor Emeritus of History in 1987. He specialized in Asian history and was instrumental in development of the Peace Studies certificate program at Oregon State University.

Eldon Earl Bevens was born in Dallas, Oregon, in 1925, and was the owner of Muir and McDonalds Tannery in Dallas, Oregon.

Lena Burien was born in Albany, Oregon, in 1909, and lived in the Albany-Corvallis area all of her life.

George and June Kalb were native Oregonians who lived on farms and worked in canneries and mills in the Willamette Valley during World War II.

O.E. Mikesell was an Oregon State Extension Service Agent in Linn County during the period of the farm labor program. Mikesell graduated from Oregon State College in 1934 and became the 4-H Club Agent in Linn County, a position he held until becoming the Agricultural Extension Agent for Linn County in 1943. He continued in this position until 1974, when he retired with 40 years of service for Oregon State University.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 8 audiocassettes; 2 boxes

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The materials were transferred to the Archives by the Anthropology Department in 1993.

Related Materials: Extensive materials pertaining to the Emergency Farm Labor Program are part of the Extension Service Records (RG 111). The Braceros in Oregon Photograph Collection documents the activities of Oregon's Bracero workers during World War II. The Fighters on the Farm Front exhibit developed by the OSU Archives in 1993 is available online. The Oregon State University Extension Service Faculty and Staff Oral History Collection (OH 014) include interviews with other Oregon State University Extension employees; the Soap Creek Valley History Project Oral Histories (OH 06) includes interviews with rural residents in Benton and Polk Counties.

Preferred Citation: Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection (OH 008), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Creators

Johnston, Candace G.
Herrera, Tere Lynn
Pike, Daniel
Stetler, Dawn A.

People, Places, and Topics

Adolf, Leonard Allen, 1921-
Agricultural extension workers--Oregon.
Agricultural laborers--Oregon.
Agriculture--Oregon.
Bevens, Eldon Earl
Burien, Lena
Canneries--Oregon.
Farm life--Oregon.
History--Study and teaching (Higher)--Oregon--Corvallis.
Hops and Brewing
Kalb, George
Kalb, June
Mikesell, O.E. (Oscar Edwin)
Natural Resources
Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Program
Oregon State College. Federal Cooperative Extension Service
Oregon State University--Faculty.
Oregon State University. University Archives
Tanneries--Oregon.
Tanning--Oregon.
United States. Agricultural Adjustment Administration
University History
Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Oregon.
World War, 1939-1945--War work--Oregon.

Forms of Material

Audiocassettes.
Oral histories (literary works)


Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Transcripts, 1992
Extent: 5 folders

Box-Folder 2.1: Adolf, Leonard, October-November, 1992
Interviews conducted by Candace Johnston on October 24, 1992 and November 16, 1992. Folder also contains interviewer's comments, index and signed release form. [Item OH08:01]
Box-Folder 2.2: Bevens, Eldon, October-November, 1992
Interviews conducted by Dawn A. Stetler on October 22, 1992 and November 9, 1992. Folder also contains interviewer's comments and signed release form. [Item OH08:02]
Box-Folder 2.3: Burien, Lena, October 12, 1992
Interview conducted by Teré Herrera. Folder also contains list of questions and index. [Item OH08:03]
Box-Folder 2.4: Kalb, George and June Kalb, October-November, 1992
Interviews conducted by Teré Herrera on October 31, 1992 and November 2, 1992. Folder also contains lists of questions and indices. [Item OH08:04]
Box-Folder 2.5: Mikesell, O.E., October-November, 1992
Interviews conducted by Dan Pike on October 31, 1992 and November 22, 1992. Folder also contains lists of questions and signed release form. [Item OH08:05]
Series 2: Audiocassettes, 1992
Extent: 8 items

Box-Item 1.1: Adolf, Leonard, October 24, 1992
Box-Item 1.2: Adolf, Leonard, November 16, 1992
Box-Item 1.3: Bevens, Eldon, October 22, 1992
Box-Item 1.4: Bevens, Eldon, November 9, 1992
Box-Item 1.5: Burien, Lena, October 12, 1992
Box-Item 1.6: Kalb, George and June Kalb, October 31, 1992
Box-Item 1.7: Kalb, George and June Kalb, November 2, 1992
Box-Item 1.8: Mikesell, O.E., October-November, 1992

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