The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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George Arscott Oral History Interviews

Two life history interviews conducted by Chris Petersen.

December 5, 2014


“Hawaii, Normandy, Corvallis”  December 5, 2014  Location: Arscott residence, Milwaukie, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 1, Arscott discusses his family background and upbringing in Hawaii, his first experiences raising chickens, his memories of Hawaiian culture in the 1930s, and his family's move to Oregon in 1939. He then recounts his early work in radio, his enlistment in the Army, and his experiences as a radar operator during World War II. Of particular note are Arscott's recollections of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and of the three weeks that he spent living in a foxhole in Normandy.

The session then turns its attention to Arscott's undergraduate studies at Oregon State College. In this, he describes his entry into OSC, professors within Poultry Husbandry who made an influence, the research legacy of James Dryden, and campus life during the late 1940s. Arscott likewise recalls his living arrangements, social life, and experience of Corvallis while an undergraduate, as well as the evolution of the family poultry farm in Junction City.

Arscott next provides an outline of his years as a graduate student at the University of Maryland, detailing his contacts and research while a master's candidate. He then recounts being called back into active duty during the Korean War, his return to university following the conclusion of that commitment, and his work in pursuit of a doctorate at Maryland.

“A Career in Poultry”  December 5, 2014  Location: Arscott residence, Milwaukie, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

At the beginning of interview 2, Arscott makes mention of his life-long love of tennis, including his charter membership in the Timberhill Racquet Club. He also shares his memories of life in Hawaii during the Depression.

The primary focus of the session is Arscott's academic career as a faculty member at Oregon State. He recalls his return to Corvallis, the initial duties of his junior faculty position, his participation in a poultry-focused radio program broadcast by KOAC, and his early teaching experiences. He likewise reflects on ways in which the department had changed since his years as an undergraduate, his publication of an influential Extension bulletin title Feeding, Laying, and Breeding Hens, and his early research on poultry nutrition and fertility, and on dwarf white leghorns. From there, he comments on the connections between the department and the poultry industry, his supervision of graduate students, community life in Corvallis, and the source of the Corvallis area's wild turkey population.

As the interview moves forward, Arscott reflects on his shift into administration, the construction of a new poultry facility on campus, and other components of his agenda as department head. Arscott also discusses his contacts with multiple OSU presidents.

A major component of the session is Arscott's description of the Poultry Training and Extension Project in Yemen that was a primary focus of his work in the first half of the 1980s. In recalling the program, Arscott provides a detailed overview of its history and its outcomes. He also shares some of his standout memories from additional international consulting work that he conducted in retirement, projects which led him to travel to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Egypt, and Lithuania.

The interview concludes with Arscott's recollections of a return trip to Normandy in 2004, his thoughts on the contemporary popularity of backyard poultry operations, and his points of pride looking back on a rich life and a long career.