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Oliver Matthews Collection, 1905-2013

Collection Overview

Title: Oliver Matthews Collection, 1905-2013

ID: MSS Matthews

Primary Creator: Matthews, Oliver Vincent (1892-1979)

Extent: 16.7 cubic feet

Arrangement: Organized in three series: 1. Scrapbooks; 2. Logs; and 3. Publications.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Matthews Collection consists of scrapbooks and trip logs pertaining to Oregon trees, logging methods, and wood products.

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

Scope and Content Notes

This collection consists of scrapbooks and logs pertaining to Oregon trees, logging methods, and wood products. The scrapbooks, arranged by species or other subject, include correspondence, clippings, photographs, and postcards. The logs contain day-by-day and mile-by-mile information on trips taken by Matthews in his search for botanical specimens, wood samples, and rare or large trees. The logs include maps, photographs, correspondence, trip narratives, and receipts.

An addition to the Matthews Collection (Accession 2005:057) consists of four scrapbooks assembled by Matthews documenting various types of trees throughout Oregon. Consisting of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and travel receipts, the scrapbooks also contain colorful narratives in which Matthews describes the significance of the highlighted trees and details from his journeys to find them. Especially interested in documenting the largest example of a given type of tree in Oregon, Matthews also describes Oregon geological features, family members, and other dendrologists in the scrapbooks. Among the types of trees described in these scrapbooks include: douglas fir, western yellow pine, spruce, ponderosa pine, willows, and alders. Numbers assigned to photographic prints in the scrapbooks correspond to negatives that can be found in the photographic collection for Oliver Matthews (P 118).

A second addition to the Matthews Collection (Accession 2013:039) is made up of correspondence between Al Hobart and Matthews regarding the identification of trees around Miller Lake in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon. The letters reference exploratory hiking trips into the region made by both men, Hobart's studies of the area flora, the exchange of foliage specimens, bibliographic resources, published acknowledgements of Matthews' work, and the various species of tree found in the Siskiyous. Also included in this transfer are 2 cds containing images and writings from Al Hobart that document his research on the flora of the Siskiyous and his regular newspaper column "Winding Trails." Most of the images depict Siskiyou area plants and landscapes, some of which were featured in a slide presentation prepared by Hobart. Lists of the particular shots Hobart used for the slide show are available in this accession. The slides include shots of Hobart and his friends on camping and hiking trips. An article about Hobart's and Matthews' interaction, published in the 2013 edition of the journal of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, is also part of this transfer.

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

Biographical / Historical Notes

Oliver Matthews (1892-1979), dendrologist and self-described "botanical tramp," traveled all parts of Oregon for more than 40 years in pursuit of trees, particularly the biggest of each species. Matthews graduated from Willamette University in 1913 and later received teacher training as a post-graduate at Oregon College of Education, but had no formal training as a botanist.

He served in Europe during World War I and worked as a carpenter and an extra in the silent film industry in Hollywood after the war. He returned to Oregon in 1928 and except for seasonal work as a carpenter and in a Salem cannery, devoted the rest of his life to the study of Oregon's trees. He corresponded extensively with herbariums, state and national forest services, newspapers, and individuals; collected hundreds of wood specimens; discovered a new cypress that bears his name; extended the known geographical range of several trees; contributed extensive botanical specimens to many herbariums; and located, measured, and documented the largest specimens of many trees, including Douglas Fir and Weeping Spruce.

Administrative Information

Related Materials: Oral history interviews with Oliver Matthews are held in the Oral History Interviews, Personal Histories, and Sound Recordings Collection on Agriculture, Forestry, and Oregon History (OH 05) and the History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings Collection (OH 03). Other materials relating to this collection can be found in the Oliver Matthews Photographic Collection (P 118) and in the Memorabilia Collection.

Preferred Citation: Oliver Matthews Collection, Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.

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


Matthews, Oliver Vincent (1892-1979)

People, Places, and Topics

Christmas tree growing.
Coos Bay (Or.)
Douglas fir--Oregon.
Forest fires--Oregon.
Forest products--Oregon.
Forests and forestry--Oregon.
Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition (1905 : Portland, Or.)
Logging railroads.
Matthews, Oliver Vincent, 1892-1979
Salem (Or.)
Tillamook Burn, Or., 1933.

Forms of Material


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