Search using this query type:

Search only these record types:

Exhibit Page

Advanced Search (Items only)

Caroline Wilkins Oral History Interview

Dublin Core


Caroline Wilkins Oral History Interview


In this interview, Caroline Wilkins, former History instructor at Oregon State University, reflects on her life, career, and influential involvement in Oregon and national politics. Wilkins begins by describing her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, and sharing her experiences growing up, placing particular interest on her experiences leading up to and during World War II. She also mentions her parents’ involvement in local politics and her early interest in voting.

Next, Wilkins describes her high school years, focusing on her time as editor of the high school newspaper. She explains her decision to attend Del Mar College, and then Texas A&I University. Wilkins mentions her work at the school newspaper at Texas A&I, and how it led her to meet her husband, Bill Wilkins. She discusses her involvement in campus politics, and her transfer to Texas Tech following her marriage to Bill. She also describes her time as a faculty wife at Texas Tech and how she finished her bachelor’s in English at University of Texas - Austin. Then she describes her early involvement in politics, helping candidates get elected to the Texas legislature and working as a legislative assistant. Wilkins likewise mentions her and Bill’s experiences as candidates for elected positions in Oregon and Texas, respectively.

From there, Wilkins explains how she and Bill came to work at Oregon State University, their initial impressions of Corvallis, and how she became involved at OSU through taking courses, working as an instructor, and as a faculty member’s wife. She moves on to describe her and Bill’s year-long stay at the University of the Americas in Mexico City; Bill taught in the Economic Department there, and she had a full scholarship to complete her Master’s degree. Wilkins highlights the difficulties of completing the program in a single year, as well as how this opportunity opened the door for her to become the first woman to teach History at OSU. She also describes her experiences of teaching classes at OSU.

The final portion of the interview is devoted to an expansion of Wilkins’ and her and her husband’s involvement in politics, paying particular attention to their work with the Democratic Party in Benton County, Oregon and on the national level. She describes the positions she held, including Chair and Vice Chair of the Oregon First Congressional District, and Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and comments on her work helping to organize the 1972 and 1976 Democratic national conventions, and her memories of the formal recognition of the National Federation of Democratic Women in 1973. She also mentions Bill’s efforts to organize Robert Kennedy’s visits to Corvallis. Additionally, she recalls her work in the Oregon Division of Consumer Services, and her later work as a consultant. Wilkins concludes the interview by sharing the names and activities of the most impactful people she worked with at Oregon State and in her political career.


Caroline Wilkins


History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings (OH 03)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


October 8, 2019


Chris Petersen


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Chris Petersen


Caroline Wilkins


The Valley Library, Oregon State University

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


Transcribe This Item

  1. caroline-wilkins.jpg