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J. Kenneth Munford Collection, 1866-2000

Collection Overview

Title: J. Kenneth Munford Collection, 1866-2000

Predominant Dates: 1930-2000

ID: MSS Munford

Primary Creator: Munford, James Kenneth

Extent: 5.4 cubic feet

Arrangement: Organized into thirteen series: I. Munford Family; II. Souvenirs of college; III. Helen Marjorie Munford-Music Studies; IV. Radio Productions; V. John Ledyard Publications; VI. Scrapbook; VII. Corvallis Gazette-Times Columns; VIII. Other Publications on OSU and Corvallis History; IX. Travel Notes; X. Phi Kappa Phi Materials; XI. Certificates and Awards; XII. Newspaper Clippings; and XIII. Sound Recordings.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The J. Kenneth Munford Collection consists of a variety of materials assembled and created by Munford as a student, teacher, writer and editor, and local historian.

Items from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Scope and Content Notes

Series 1 includes several family photographs and an excerpt from Munford's mother's diary. The souvenirs of college (series 2) consist primarily of memorabilia of Munford's first year as an Oregon State College student in the early 1930s. Series 3 includes texts written by Oregon State College faculty member, Lillian Jeffreys Petri, that were used and annotated by Marge Munford when she studied piano with Petri in the late 1930s. Also included in Series 3 is sheet music for two pieces, Sweet Oregon. Series 4 includes radio scripts and related notes, correspondence, and documentation pertaining to several radio productions on Oregon history and geography that Munford created in the mid 1930s and early 1940s.

Series 5 consists of materials pertaining to Munford's research and writing about John Ledyard. Specifically, these include research notes, manuscripts, correspondence, publicity, and reviews for a 1937 article about Ledyard in the Sunday Oregonian; a 1939 book, John Ledyard's Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage.

Series 7 includes photocopies of all the columns on local and regional history written by Munford for the Corvallis Gazette-Times; a subject index and title list for the columns; and photographs assembled and/or acquired for use with the column. The photographs include images of various Corvallis landmarks, especially schools, as well as many individuals of local or regional significance. Series 8 includes materials pertaining to the early history of Corvallis College and other local and regional historical topics. The travel notes (series 9) were written during an extended trip to Maine, Canada, London, and Europe during the late summer and fall of 1971.

Series 10 consists of materials related to Munford's membership in Phi Kappa Phi and includes books, correspondence, a handbook, lists of chapter officers, minutes, newsletters, reports, and an unpublished manuscript on Munford's 45 years of involvement with the organization. Included among the subjects addressed in this series are: the 1997 Centennial Conference, the 1980 national Convention in Portland, and Phi Kappa Phi President Ilona Herlinger.

Series 11 constitutes certificates, awards and plaques presented to Munford in honor of his work in local history and participation in Phi Kappa Phi. Organizations that awarded the certificates include: Benton County Board of Commissioners, Boy Scouts of America, Corvallis Historic Preservation Advisory Board, Daughters of the American Revolution, Oregon Historical Society, and Phi Kappa Phi. Series 12 consists of newspaper clippings pertaining to Munford's involvement in Phi Kappa Phi and a protest lodged by students over the firing of an English Professor, Frank Harper. Series 13 is a sound recording, The Face of Oregon, of the OSU Concert Band, Madrigal, Glee Clubs, and Choralaires performing several pieces in honor of the Oregon Centennial, April 23, 1959.

An addition to the Munford Collection (Accession 2001:042) consists of materials generated and collected by J. Kenneth Munford relating to his involvement in theatrical productions as an OSC student and in community theatre. Some of the records also pertain to Munford's work as an administrator with the Corvallis and Newberg School Districts, highlighting in particular his involvement with the Summer Recreation Program in Corvallis. Included among the items in this addition to the Munford Collection are: play scripts, theatre programs, commencement programs, books, a journal, scrapbooks, and newsletters. Munford attended OSC from 1930 to 1934, graduating with a degree in Education. He worked at Harding Elementary School in Corvallis from 1935 to 1937 and Harding Junior High in Newberg from 1937 to 1938.

A second addition to the Munford Collection (Acession 2008:012) consists of materials documenting the history of OSU that were collected by Munford in the course of research for his weekly newspaper column in the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Made up of a certificate, correspondence, historical essays, newspaper clippings, notes, publications, slide show presentation scripts, and a student paper, this transfer also includes a doctoral thesis ("Historical Perspective of OSC" by Lillian Schroeder van Loan) for which Munford served as major advisor. The correspondence documents interaction between Munford and others on and off campus regarding OSU history. The publications include photocopies of course catalogs and president's reports for the college dating back to 1867. Munford's columns are included among the newspaper clippings. Items relating to the Theta Xi Fraternity and Munford's membership in it can also be found among these records.

A third addition to the collection (Accession 2015:025) is made up of correspondence and reference materials relating to Munford's research for an article on Captain Benjamin Boswell for the Oregon Historical Quarterly (OHQ). The correspondence reflects interaction between Munford and the Oregon Historical Society, the Douglas County Museum, and Wayne County Historical Society in the gathering of resources about Boswell. Among the materials collected by Munford for his research on Boswell include death records, legal documents, meeting minutes, military records, newspaper clippings, and photographs. In addition to the management of the Boswell Springs Resort in Douglas County (Or.), these materials also document Boswell's involvement in the development of military coursework at Oregon Agricultural College that began in 1873. A draft of the Boswell article written by Munford (co-authored by OSU Archivist Harriet Moore) that appeared in the Winter 1982 issue of OHQ is also included in this accession.

Items from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Alumnus J. Kenneth Munford was a member of the Oregon State University faculty from 1939 until his retirement in 1977, with breaks for military service and further education. A native of Banks, Oregon, Kenneth Munford came to Corvallis in 1930 as a freshman at Oregon State College. After graduating in 1934 with a degree in education, he served as principal at the Harding Elementary School in Corvallis (1935-1937) and the junior high school in Newburg, Oregon (1938-1939) and taught classes at both schools as well. Kenneth Munford and Helen Marjorie ("Marge") Vannice were married in 1939.

In 1939, Munford became an English instructor at Oregon State College, a position he held until leaving for military duty in 1941. After receiving a Doctor of Education degree from Stanford University in 1948, he returned to OSC as an editor in the Office of Publications. He became Director of Publications in 1956 and spearheaded formation of the OSU Press in 1961. Active in the OSU Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi since his initiation in 1934, Munford also served as chapter President (1963-1964), correspondent for the chapter newsletter, and later President of the national headquarters (1968-1971) of the honorary society. In 1986, Munford was awarded Phi Kappa Phi's Distinguished Member Award.

Munford's interest in John Ledyard began in the mid-1930s while teaching a fifth-grade Oregon history class. He wrote an article for the Sunday Oregonian and with the encouragement of a Portland, Oregon, publisher, he quickly wrote a book, John Ledyard: An American Marco Polo, which was published in 1939. Through the years, he began to see that there was much more of historical value in the Ledyard story than had been revealed in his 1939 book, so Munford began preparing an annotated version of the Ledyard's journal. He began collaborating with Sinclair Hitchings, Keeper of Prints at the Boston Public Library, and John Ledyard's Journal of Captain Cooks's Last Voyage was published by the OSU Press in 1963.

Munford retired from Oregon State University in 1977, but continued to be an active writer and supporter of local history. In 1978, he was awarded the Oregon Historical Society's Henry Clinton Collins Award "for his writings on local and statewide history."

In 1983, Munford began writing a weekly column on local and regional history for the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Thirteen years and 561 columns later, his last column was published on January 15, 1996.

Administrative Information

Related Materials:

The Office of University Publications and OSU Press (RG 018) includes materials pertaining to that office during Munford's years as Director. The KOAC Records (RG 015) include extensive records pertaining to the KOAC School of the Air and other radio programs. Materials pertaining to Adventures of a Home Economist, written by Munford and Ava Milam Clark, are available in the Ava Milam Clark Papers (MSS Clark). Documents relating to Munford's involvement in Phi Kappa Phi can be also be found in the records of the Phi Kappa Phi-OSU Chapter Records (MSS PhiKappaPhi). The Special Collections and Archives Research Center holdings also include the Banks Dairy Products Company Records (MSS BanksDairy); Kenneth Munford's mother, Flora M. Munford, was a stockholder in the corporation and secretary of the Board of Directors.

The Center's holdings include many other materials pertaining to OSU history and local and regional history. In addition, the Benton County Historical Museum's holdings include extensive documentary and visual materials pertaining to the history of Corvallis and Benton County.

Preferred Citation: J. Kenneth Munford Collection (MSS Munford), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Other URL: A preliminary container list was created for this collection on or before November 19, 2015.


Munford, James Kenneth
Munford, Helen Marjorie Vannice
Petri, Lillian Jeffreys

People, Places, and Topics

Benton County (Or.)--History.
Corvallis (Or.)--History.
Corvallis College--History.
Corvallis Gazette-Times
John Ledyard
Ledyard, John, 1751-1789
Local History
Munford, James Kenneth
Oregon State College--History.
Oregon State University--History.
Phi Kappa Phi--History.
Phi Kappa Phi. Oregon State Chapter
Piano--Instruction and study--Oregon--Corvallis.
Radio programs--Oregon.
Radio programs for children--Oregon.
University History

Forms of Material

Photographic prints.
Sound recordings.

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