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Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection, 1959-2007

By Chris Petersen

Collection Overview

Title: Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection, 1959-2007

Predominant Dates: 1990-2005

ID: FV 320

Primary Creator: Williams, Gerald W.

Extent: 2.5 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged into five series: 1. Video Cassettes, 1985-2005; 2. CDs and DVDs, 2000-2007; 3. Motion Picture Films, 1959-1983; 4. Audio Cassettes, 1983-1994; 5. Record Albums, 1968-1976. Materials are arranged chronologically within each series.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection consists of audio-visual materials, either collected or created by Williams, that document a variety of topics in the natural history of the Pacific Northwest, with a particular emphasis on the practice and culture of forestry in the region. The collection consists of multiple audio-visual formats including VHS tapes, DVDs, audiocassettes, and motion picture films, among others. Items from this collection have been digitized and are available upon patron request.

Scope and Content Notes

The Gerald W. Williams Moving Image and Sound Recordings Collection documents the history, maintenance, and popular culture surrounding forests in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the history of the USDA Forest Service and, more broadly, the natural history of the region. The majority of the collection's moving images are held on VHS cassettes and DVDs, although motion picture reels and camcorder cassette formats are present as well. Likewise, the bulk of the collection's audio materials are held on audio cassette, with a small number of CDs also available.

The materials include commercially produced items created by the USDA Forest Service, regional history organizations, and specialty groups like the National Smokejumpers. The collection also holds amateur recordings of television and radio broadcasts, and of live events that were documented with a personal video recorder. The majority of these live events are lectures on forest history and maintenance.

Highlights of the collection include multiple VHS tapes and DVDs documenting the production and, ultimately, the finished version of The Greatest Good, a documentary film created to mark the centennial of the USDA Forest Service in 2005. Four camcorder cassettes also capture the proceedings of a three-day Forest Service workshop held at the Grey Towers National Historic Site. The collection's film reels focus primarily on the properties of soil in forested areas.

While much of the content is scholarly in nature, the collection does include artifacts from popular culture, including an episode of Lassie, a cartoon that was originally released theatrically in 1938, and two albums of music sung by recording artist and part-time logger, Buzz Martin.

Nearly all of the audio cassettes described in series 4 have been digitized and are available upon patron request.

Biographical / Historical Notes

Gerald W. Williams worked for the U.S. Forest Service from 1979 until his retirement in 2005. From 1979 to 1993, he was a sociologist with the Umpqua and Willamette National Forests in Oregon; in 1993-1998, he served as the regional sociologist for the Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Portland; and from 1998 until his retirement in 2005 he was the national historian for the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. Williams designed and implemented a regional and national history program for the Forest Service which culminated in his appointment as national historian and his authorship of the centennial history of the Forest Service, The USDA Forest Service -- The First Century, in 2000. He has published more than 75 books, chapters, book reviews, and articles and conference papers exploring a variety of historical topics such as the Native American use of fire to manage environments, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the U.S. Army's Spruce Production Division during World War I.

Williams is a native of Oregon and earned degrees from Southern Oregon University (B.A., Sociology; M.A. General Studies Social Science) and Washington State University (Ph.D., Sociology).

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 4 boxes containing 33 VHS cassettes, 27 DVDs, 17 audiocassettes, 8 motion picture films, 8 camcorder cassettes, 4 record albums, and 2 CDs

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The materials described in this collection were acquired by the Oregon State University Archives from Gerald W. Williams in 2007. Originally described as a component of the Gerald W. Williams Collection (MSS WilliamsG), the moving images and sound recordings were separated into a collection of their own in 2016.

Separated Materials: Materials originally accessioned with this collection have been physically relocated and described as components of the Gerald Williams Papers (MSS WilliamsG) and the Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Civilian Conservation Corps (MSS CCC).

Related Materials: Other SCARC moving image collections with a strong focus on forestry and the history of the Pacific Northwest include: the United States Forest Service Video Workshop Videotapes (FV 264); the College of Forestry Moving Images (FV 061); the Pass Creek Motion Picture Film Collection (FV 273). Several SCARC oral history collections also document similar themes, and they include: the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Oral History Collection (OH 028); the Oral History Interviews, Personal Histories, and Sound Recordings Collection on Agriculture, Forestry, and Oregon History (OH 005); and the Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection (OH 001).  A large volume of additional research materials collected by Gerald Williams are housed in Gerald W. Williams Papers (MSS WilliamsG). Moving image and sound recording materials that Williams collected related to the Civilian Conservation Corps are described in the Gerald W. Williams Collection on the Civilian Conservation Corps (MSS CCC).

Finding Aid Revision History: The original 2016 finding aid was updated in 2019 to reflect the additon of 2 DVDs.


Williams, Gerald W.
United States. Forest Service

People, Places, and Topics

Forest fires--Oregon.
Forest management--Northwest, Pacific.
Forests and forestry--Oregon.
Logging--Northwest, Pacific.
Natural Resources
United States. Forest Service--History.
United States. Forest Service. Pacific Northwest Region
Williams, Gerald W.

Forms of Material

Compact discs.
Motion pictures (visual works)
Phonograph records.
Sound recordings.
Video recordings (physical artifacts)

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Video Cassettes, 1985-2005
Series 1 is comprised primarily of VHS cassettes, with a smaller volume of camcorder cassettes available as well. The materials organized into the series include television broadcasts that Williams presumably recorded to VHS, as well as events that he or a colleague documented with a video camera. Likewise included are commercially produced videotapes created by the USDA Forest Service and the National Smokejumpers Association, among other entities. The materials generally focus on the history of forests and forestry, as well as more contemporary issues of concern to forest managers and the general public. Of particular note are a collection of four camcorder cassettes chronicling a three-day Forest Service workshop held at the Grey Towers National Historic Site, and three VHS cassettes that were created at various points in the production of The Greatest Good, a documentary film commissioned to mark the centennial of the USDA Forest Service.
Extent: 33 VHS cassettes, 6 Hi-8 video cassettes, 1 VHS-C camcorder cassette

Box 1
Item FV320:01: “Willamette National Forest – LMP show,” 1994; “Mountain slides,” 1994; “Jawbone Flats,” December 15, 1985; “Filming ‘The General,’” December 15, 1985; “Timberline Lodge,” December 28, 1986; “Old Growth, November 10, 1987. VHS cassette, 1985-1994
Item FV320:02: “Flight Over Umpqua National Forest (north to south flight),” June 20, 1986; “Fish Improvements Adjacent to Steamboat Creek,” September 29, 1986; and “North Umpqua River at Steamboat Inn,” September 30, 1986. VHS cassette, 1986
Item FV320:03: “Timberline Lodge – 50th Anniversary,” 1987; Last Stand of the Giants, [Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest] PBS broadcast of “Nature,” May 31, 1992. VHS cassette, 1987-1992
Item FV320:04: Ancient Forests: Rage Over Trees, September 24, 1989; and Clear Cut Crisis, August 14, 1990. “World of Audubon” broadcasts, WTBS. VHS cassette, 1989-1990
Item FV320:05: “David Brower Biography”, Sierra Club, 1990; and “Steam Whistle Logging,” 1991. VHS cassette, 1990-1991
Item FV320:06: “Wildfire,” National Audubon Society, July 28, 1992; “Firestorm,” KOIN-TV, September 30, 1994. VHS cassette, 1992-1994
Item FV320:07: “Ancient Forest News Conference (part II),” C-SPAN broadcast, VHS cassette, July 2, 1993
Item FV320:08: “Why History,” lecture by David McCullough delivered at the National Archives, VHS cassette, June 8, 1993
Item FV320:09: Timber on the Move, Forest History Society, VHS cassette, August 26, 1996
Item FV320:10: Escape! Because Accidents Happen: Fire. PBS broadcast of “NOVA,” VHS cassette, 1999
Item FV320:11: Wildfire montages and loops – California, VHS cassette, circa 1990s.
Item FV320:12: Wildfire montages and loops – Florida, VHS cassette, circa 1990s
Item FV320:13: Wildfire montages and loop – Yellowstone, VHS cassette, circa 1990s
Item FV320:14: Smokejumpers: Firefighters from the Sky, National Smokejumpers Association, VHS cassette, 2000
Two copies.
Item FV320:15: America’s Grasslands, USDA Forest Service production, VHS cassette, May 2001
Item FV320:16: Entering the Forest Service: New Employee Orientation Video, USDA Forest Service, VHS cassette, September 2001
Item FV320:17: Fire Wars. PBS broadcast of “NOVA,” VHS cassette, 2002
Item FV320:18: The Cliff-Scaling Soldiers of West Virginia: A Documentary Film, by Robert C. Whetsell, VHS cassette, 2003
Item FV320:19: The Greatest Good. Work in progress master tapes with color correction and supers. Two VHS cassettes, March 6, 20013
Item FV320:20: The Greatest Good. Bonus disc review materials. Six VHS cassettes, March 2005
Item FV320:21: “Greatest Good Trailer (2003)”; “Forests and Men (1933)”; “Forest Fire (1928)”; “The Forest Ranger’s Job (1928).”  Films transferred to VHS cassette, undated
Item FV320:22: "Cry of the Wild," episode of Lassie, (1974). VHS cassette containing film transfer from 16 mm original, undated
A motion picture film reel containing this episode of Lassie is held in Series 3 of this collection.
Item FV320:23: “Logging in the Early Days on the McKenzie,” VHS cassette, undated
Includes background notes.
Item FV320:24: Operations of the Pacific Spruce Corporation, Siuslaw National Forest Historic Logging Film, VHS cassette, undated
Item FV320:25: “America’s Love Affair with Cars,” and “Teddy Roosevelt.” Broadcasts by Bill Moyers, VHS cassette, undated
Item FV320:26: Superior Images, produced by the Superior National Forest in cooperation with Iron Range Research Center, VHS cassette, undated
Includes annotation: "We did this video on a cost share for $5,000, the idea being that history for the general public can be fun as well as educational. The partners involved are responsible for all but the last two minutes. History of the Superior, 1910-1940."
Box 2
Item FV320:27: “Grey Towers Workshop,” Hi-8 video cassette, June 5-6, 1994
Item FV320:28: “Grey Towers Workshop,” Hi-8 video cassette, June 6, 1994
Item FV320:29: “Grey Towers Workshop,” Hi-8 video cassette, June 6, 1994
Item FV320:30: “Grey Towers Workshop,” Hi-8 video cassette, June 7, 1994
Item FV320:31: “Grey Towers Workshop: JWT and Closing,” Hi-8 video cassette, June 7, 1994
Item FV320:32: “Jack’s Latest Presentation,” TC-30 VHS-C camcorder cassette, April 27, 1995
Item FV320:33: “Ecosystem Short Course - Old Growth, Lake Cowichan, B.C.,” Hi-8 video cassette, June 12-16, 1995
Item FV320:34: “PDX Flood ’96,” Hi-8 video cassette, 1996
Series 2: CDs and DVDs, 2000-2007
Series 2 consists of professionally created DVDs and CDs that, in the main, document the history of the Forest Service and of forests in the Pacific Northwest. A highlight of the series is its collection of DVDs related to the Forest Service centennial documentary, The Greatest Good.
Extent: 25 DVDs, 2 CDs, 1 Mini DVD

Box 2
Item FV320:35: Working for the Great Outdoors, USDA Forest Service, DVD, November 2000
Item FV320:77: Stories of the Forest: A Campaign to Put Forest History to Work, 2004
Produced by the Forest History Society.
Item FV320:36: The Greatest Good – work in progress disc, DVD, April 8, 2004
Item FV320:37: USDA Forest Service Centennial Congress: A Collective Commitment to Conservation. Set of six DVDs, January 3-6, 2005
Item FV320:38: Commemorating the Past, Facing the Future. Film produced for screening at the Forest Service Centennial Celebration. DVD, January 2005
Item FV320:39: The Greatest Good – movie preview, Mini DVD and standard DVD, circa 2005
Item FV320:40: The Greatest Good – bonus DVD projects, March 20, 2005
Item FV320:41: The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film, DVD, 2005
Annotated: "#1 of 1,000"
Item FV320:42: Gifford Pinchot: A Life of Leadership, presented by Char Miller, USDA Forest Service, CD, 2005
Item FV320:43: Sounds of the Forest. Song compilation produced in conjunction with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival program, “Forest Service, Culture and Community,” CD, 2005
Item FV320:78: Forest Service, Culture and Community - Smithsonian Folklife Festival, 2005
Item FV320:44: The Story of a Forest Ranger (1954), Quality Information Publishers, DVD, 2006
Item FV320:45: Wilderness Rangers: Keeping it Wild, USDA Forest Service, DVD, 2006
Item FV320:46: A Century of Oregon Forestry: Challenge, Change, & Opportunity, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, DVD, 2007
Item FV320:47: William Gladstone Steel. Episode of Oregon Experience produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting, DVD, 2007
Item FV320:48: Comparing the New Generation and Old-Style Fire Shelters – May 5, 2006 Test. USDA Forest Service, DVD, April 2007
Item FV320:49: Breakthrough: Women in the USDA Forest Service, Forest History Society, DVD, undated
Two copies.
Item FV320:50: Flagging the Trail: One Hundred Years of Cultural Resources Management in Region 3, DVD, undated
Item FV320:51: Grasslands Forever for Everyone, USDA Forest Service, DVD, undated
Item FV320:52: Lifelines: Your National Forest Roads, produced by the USDA Forest Service in partnership with the USDOT FHWA Federal Lands Highway Program, DVD, undated
Item FV320:53: Pacific Northwest Cooperative Programs: Working Through Partnerships, DVD, undated
Item FV320:54: US Forest Service: Working for the Outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, DVD, undated
Item FV320:55: Wilderness and Backcountry Site Restoration Guide, USDA Forest Service, DVD, undated
Series 3: Motion Picture Films, 1959-1983
The film reels arranged into Series 3 primarily concern the properties of soil in forested areas. Also included are two items from popular culture, including a cartoon and an episode of the television show, Lassie.
Extent: 8 film reels

Box 3
Item FV320:56: Water Movement in Soil, 1959
16 mm color with sound; approximately 1000 feet; 27 minutes running time. Produced in the Department of Agronomy (Soils) at Washington State University by Walter H. Gardner and J.C. Hsieh, Professor of Soils and Experimental Aide.  The film shows how water moves into and through soil under conditions where the soil is not saturated. This is shown by means of time-lapse motion pictures which condense action occurring over a period of many hours into a few minutes.  The ways in which strata, such as hard pans or course sand layers, slow down the advance of a wetting-front are also depicted, and the differences between saturated and unsaturated flow differ are likewise shown.  Finally, the film uses dye-tracks to illustrate how soluble fertilizers move in irrigation furrows.
Item FV320:57: Aerial Photo Interpretation for the Discovery and Evaluation of Soil Resources, circa late 1950s
16 mm color film; approximately 1200 feet; series contains two copies of this film; one needs splice at end of title frames. Prepared by the USDA in conjunction with a special South American agency, this film follows a soil survey from start to publication.
Item FV320:58: The Rabbit Hunt, circa 1960s
A 1938 Walter Lantz cartoon that was originally a theatrical release with sound, this is a silent, 8-mm black and white Castle Films home movie copy, circa 1960s; approximately 150 feet. Film is brittle and requires special handling.
Item FV320:59: Discovery – Opportunities for Outdoor Learning in Land Between the Lakes, circa 1960s
16 mm color with sound; approximately 600 feet. Presented by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Item FV320:60: "Cry of the Wild." Lassie television show, episode 6706, 1974
16 mm color film with sound; approximately 900 feet. Note that a VHS copy of the production is described in Series 1 of this collection.
Item FV320:61: Soil Compaction on Forest Lands, circa 1983
16 mm color with sound; approximately 1000 feet; 32 minutes running time; series holds two copies of this film. This film provides an in-depth look at the causes of forest soil compaction, its effects on productivity, and some management alternatives that can be used to reduce compaction and restore compacted lands.  The film was produced by Oregon State University, in cooperation with the Forest Service and other federal and state agencies, and was intended for professional audiences. In discussing the above, the film focuses on then-recent compaction research by OSU, specifically a soil compaction study completed by OSU for the Forest Service.
Series 4: Audio Cassettes, 1983-1994
The audio cassettes organized into Series 4 primarily consist of amateur recordings of lectures and other events related to forest history and forest policy. Nearly all of the items described in this series have been digitized and are available upon patron request.
Extent: 21 audio cassettes

Box 2
Item FV320:62: Talk by “Red” Nelson at the UNF dedication and open house, June 23, 1983
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Item FV320:63: “Forest Service Planning,” lecture by R. Max Peterson, Starker Lecture Series, Oregon State University, November 4, 1988
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Item FV320:64: Pacific Northwest Wilderness, Nature Recordings Reference Series, vol. XVII, 1989
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Item FV320:65: “Spotted Owl Listing News Conference” and “[Bob] Packwood and [Tom] Giesen Interviews,” KUGN radio broadcasts, June 22, 1990
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Item FV320:66: “R-G History Slide Show Talk,” delivered by Gerald Williams, November 1990
Item FV320:67: “Nature and Wealth: The Historical Roots of our Environmental Perspective,” lecture by Donald E. Worster produced for OPB Radio by Lynne Clendenin and Ramesh Krishnamurthy, July 22, 1992
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Item FV320:68: Preparing for the Future by Examining the Past: A Workshop of Scholars on Forest Service Reinvention, Sponsored by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and the USDA Forest Service. Grey Towers. Three audio cassettes, June 1994

Series contains two sets of these recordings.

Digitized and available upon patron request.

Item FV320:69: USFS 1919: The Ranger, The Cook, and a Hole in the Sky, by Norman Maclean. NorthWord AudioPress book on tape. Three audio cassettes, 1994
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Item FV320:70: “Gifford Pinchot’s Speech to the National Grange, February 1940”, undated

Series contains four copies of this recording.

Digitized and available upon patron request.

Item FV320:71: “Loggers Reward” and “Where There Walks a Logger There Walks a Man,” songs by Buzz Martin, undated

Record albums containing both sets of recordings are also held in this collection and are described in Series 5.

Digitized and available upon patron request.

Item FV320:72: Unidentified lecture re: white settlement of Oregon and ensuing conflict between ethnic groups. Presenter unknown, undated
Digitized and available upon patron request.
Series 5: Record Albums, 1968-1976
The albums held in Series 5 consist entirely of commercially produced musical recordings.
Box 4
Item FV320:73: Where There Walks a Logger, There Walks a Man, songs by Buzz Martin, Ripcord Records, 1968
Recording is also available on audio cassette, as described in Series 4.
Item FV320:74: A Logger’s Reward, songs by Buzz Martin, Ripcord Records, 1969
Recording is also available on audio cassette, as described in Series 4.
Item FV320:75: A Period of Time, songs by the Boulder Brothers, Sheepeater Records, 1975
Item FV320:76: Alive & …, songs by Mike Buckley, Buzzz Records, 1976

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