Behind the Scenes: Student work on the Wayne Morse film collection

I am a delicate ribbon of film – misuse me and I disappoint thousands; cherish me, and I delight and instruct the world.”

~excerpt from The Film Prayer by Crawley Films Limited


Do you ever wonder what it might be like to work on one of our amazing collections? The UO Special Collections and University Archives is very lucky to have amazing student workers who have the opportunity to process some very interesting collections.  Over the past year Kit Becker worked diligently on the processing and preservation of the Wayne Morse film collection. In this video below she sits down with UO Libraries to discuss her position in the department as a film conservation and preservation technician.

In a second video Kit provides details about the step-by-step film preservation process.

Everyone at SCUA extends a huge thanks to Kit for her amazing work and dedication to the collection!!

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Collection Highlight, Collections, SCUA Staff Highlights, Students

Celebration of the James Blue Archive: Wednesday, April 23

jamesblueA celebration of the James Blue Archive and a talk on film preservation will take place in Knight Library’s Browsing Room on the UO campus at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23. Representatives from the James and Richard Blue Foundation will be on hand to participate in the event. The event is hosted by UO Libraries and Cinema Pacific.

James Blue, a University of Oregon alumnus and award-winning independent filmmaker, is renowned for his socially engaged documentaries and teaching.

Following the brief celebration of the archive, Christina Kovac, supervisory motion picture preservation specialist at the National Archives, will discuss her work in preserving Blue’s films made for the U.S. government.

At 7 p.m., in the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art Lecture Room, ethnographic filmmaker and scholar David MacDougall will introduce and discuss Kenya Boran, the film he co-directed with Blue in 1970.

The April 23 event begins the second part of Cinema Pacific’s six-month tribute to James Blue. Additional events exploring Blue’s work and legacy are scheduled for April 24 in Eugene and April 25 and 26 in Portland. A complete schedule is at

We previously highlighted the arrival of the James Blue Archive in this post here:

Information about the larger James Blue Project, can be found here: Included on this site is the newly released short documentary about Blue, “Discovering James Blue,” by faculty and students in the School of Journalism.

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Posted in Collection Highlight, Collections, Events, New Collections

New Exhibit and Opening Event April 22: “Recipe: The Kitchen and Laboratory in the West, 1400-2000″

invitation-ginger-1m7tfq5-1024x791We are pleased to announce a new exhibit recently opened entitled, “Recipe: The Kitchen and Laboratory in the West, 1400-2000.” The exhibit is co-curated by Vera Keller, Jennifer Burns Bright and the students of Clark Honors College History 431, “History of Experiment.”

There will be a special exhibit opening event and reception on Tuesday, April 22, 4:00-5:30 PM, Knight Library Browsing Room. Please join us for presentations by the curators and students, as well as a tour of the exhibition.

4:00 PM: Presentation by Kim Ta, Spencer Kales, David Swanson, Jaclyn Rushing, and Erin Parsons
4:30 PM: Presentation by Jennifer Burns Bright
Tours of exhibition at 4:00 and 4:30 PM.

Catering provided by Party Downtown and Brew Dr. Kombucha.

Special thanks to Special Collections and University Archives, the Robert D. Clark Honors College, the Oregon Rare Books Initiative, the Department of Environmental Studies, Food Studies, Party Downtown, and Brew Dr. Kombucha.

Posted in Collections, Events, Exhibitions, Students

Showcasing Our Treasures: Meeting with the New UO Board of Trustees

Last week on March 27th, the UO Libraries hosted some of the new members of the UO Board of Trustees. The purpose of the visit was to introduce them to our unique collections in the Special Collections and University Archives and show them in-person some of our most treasured collection. Some of the collections highlighted included the Ken Kesey collection, Oregon Trail diaries, James Ivory papers, and the Children’s Literature collection. The Board of Trustees’ members met with Deb Carver, Dean of the Libraries, Linda Long, Manuscripts Librarian, and Jennifer O’Neal, Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist.

Below are some images from that day (click on images to enlarge them):






Posted in Behind the Scenes, Collection Highlight, Collections

Iconic Moments in University of Oregon History

Deady and Villard Hall

Deady and Villard Hall, ca. 1890s

We were thrilled to see that the Daily Emerald highlighted two separate posts today about iconic moments in history of the University of Oregon.

The main article “From the Arrival of Oregon Football to Flag Rushes, These 16 Iconic Moments Shaped the UO In Ways You Never Imagined” highlights the following  moments:

  • 1876: Building a School
  • 1890: The Beginning of Junior Flag Rush
  • 1894: College Football Comes to Eugene
  • 1900: The Rise of Fraternity and Sorority Life
  • 1902: The Prince Expands a Campus
  • 1917: First Rose Bowl Appearance
  • 1919: The Opening of Hayward Field
  • 1932: The Zorn-McPherson Bill
  • 1947: The Establishment of The Duck
  • 1948: The Bowerman Era Begins
  • 1949: Erb Memorial Student Union Constructed
  • 1969: Robert Clark and Student Protests
  • 1970: The Prefontaine Legacy Begins
  • 1977: The Arrival of Animal House
  • 2008: Dr. Posner’s Achievement
  • 2011: The Fall of Lariviere

In addition, a video with images from the University Archives can be found here.

Jennifer O’Neal
Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist

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Posted in News, University Archives, University History

“Native American Photographs: The Art of Edward Curtis”: Insight Seminar, May 3, 2014

cp08026vThe University of Oregon Libraries Special Collections and University Archives will offer an inside look at the photographic work of Edward Curtis in a half-day UO Insight Seminar entitled “Native American Photographs: The Art of Edward Curtis.” The seminar is scheduled for Saturday, May 3, 9:15 a.m – 1:00 p.m., Knight Library Browsing Room, 1501 Kincaid Street. The registration fee for the noncredit, ungraded public seminar is $45. The seminar will be taught by James Fox, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, and Jennifer O’Neal, University Historian and Archivist.  Learn more and register online at

The rare, original photographs covered in the seminar are a treasure from the UO Libraries Special Collections. From the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, Edward S. Curtis roamed throughout western North America documenting what he perceived to be the “vanishing” lifeways of Indians. More than 2,000 of Curtis’s images appear in his monumental The North American Indians (1907 – 1930), which comprises 20 volumes of large photogravures and 20 corresponding volumes of photogravures and text. The seminar will examine Curtis’s own copy of this stunning work, discuss its aesthetic value, and evaluate it from a Native perspective. No textbook is needed for the seminar. However, the full volumes and images can be accessed here through the American Memory project: In addition, the new book, “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis,”  by Timothy Egan ( will be referenced in the seminar.

UO Insight Seminars provide an opportunity for the general public to re-engage with the liberal arts and experience the intellectual fulfillment that is the hallmark of a university education. The seminars focus on the humanities, particularly on “meaning of life” topics of keen interest to adults. They are aimed at people eager to return to real college-level reading and study. The seminars are noncredit and ungraded. Led by UO faculty members who are experts on the topics, the seminars require careful reading of both primary and secondary materials.

The official announcement and full details can be found here:

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Posted in Classes, Collection Highlight, Collections, Events, News

Behind the Scene: Processing President Dave Frohnmayer’s Papers

This blog post highlights the recent project to complete the processing of Dave Frohnmayer’s presidential and personal papers by Caroline McNabb, Project Archivist, who took over the processing project after several staff and students previously completed most of the accessioning, preliminary inventory, and initial arrangement. The Special Collections and University Archives staff wish to thank Caroline and the entire staff and students for their hard work and dedication to this project.


About the Collections

photo_frohnmayerDave Frohnmayer is a University of Oregon Law professor, former dean, and the 15th President at the University of Oregon, among other varied career arcs.  He has been active on our campus for over 40 years, from his first year teaching in 1970 to his last year as President in 2009—and is currently back to teaching his popular Freshman seminar, “Theories of Leadership.”

His archival materials have been separated into two collections: Faculty papers and Office of the President records. The faculty papers collection spans Mr. Frohnmayer’s entire life and includes materials from his tenure at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; three terms as State Representative; UO professorship; Special Assistant to two UO Presidents; three terms as Attorney General; one unsuccessful campaign for Governor; and Dean of the School of Law.  Besides this dizzying array of professional artifacts, the collection also includes a wealth of personal materials, including family photographs and items from his childhood.

The Office of the President records focus exclusively on Mr. Frohnmayer’s tenure as President of the University of Oregon, beginning in 1994 and ending in 2009.  Materials include speech transcripts, recordings, and notes; documentation of various campus controversies and important issues; administrative materials, and an incredible assortment of visual and audiovisual materials.  This collection documents Mr. Frohnmayer’s Presidential work, but is also a slice of University history.  Of particular import is the fact that the Internet emerged in the early years of his presidency, so communication and information dissemination was rapidly changing during this time.

Processing Work

Processing work involved inventorying each box, intellectual organization, preservation, and researching David Frohnmayer and the cultural-historical events of the time periods.  I began by conducting a thorough inventory of the dozens of boxes located at Knight Library and the Baker Downtown Center.  Some boxes came with contents lists from Mr. Frohnmayer’s secretary, Carol Rydbom, but many of these were no longer accurate, since materials had been shifted since donation.  Looking through these boxes—some quite old and mysterious—was akin to an archaeological dig or detective work.  I found surprising, fascinating items and learned a lot about University history and Mr. Frohnmayer’s life.

Once I had a handle on exactly what the materials were, I organized them by time period, theme, and collection.  I used a spreadsheet for this, and spent many hours moving items around and arranging them into series and subseries.  This method of sense-making is called “intellectual organization,” and is very important to make a collection understandable and accessible.

While going through the materials, I came across a great many items that had preservation concerns—photographs rubbing against each other in envelopes, rusty staples—even some insects!  I took note of preservation needs and took care of the most egregious concerns.  Sadly, some items had to be deaccessioned (removed) due to their poor condition.

Finally, I began researching David Frohnmayer’s life in order to better understand his career paths, motivations, personal life, and family history.  I used this data to begin writing what are called scope notes—contextual information on a finding aid that gives researchers insight into the history, value, and meaning of the materials in a collection.  Many times throughout this process I learned something interesting that changed my perception of some portion of the materials.


The major challenges I came across during processing were related to preservation and intellectual organization.  Some larger visual materials had been tightly rolled for years and needed to be flattened; I had the opportunity to learn some new preservation strategies.  In addition, it was sometimes difficult to select the proper enclosures for different items.  Should I use a buffered paper envelope or a polymer pouch?  A flat museum box or an upright manuscript box?  Luckily, most of these questions were answered by looking at archival best practices documentation, but there were times that I had to use my best judgment.

In terms of intellectual organization challenges, there were several items that could have gone in either collection.  I had to really consider the historical context, surrounding materials, and how they were used to determine whether the Faculty papers collection or Office of the President records collection was more appropriate.  David Frohnmayer’s career has been incredibly complex, and there was a lot of overlap with personal and Presidential materials.  I hope that researchers take the time to peruse both collections to get a good idea of the work he did.


Successes were far more significant and satisfying than the challenges.  I located interesting and important items that nobody knew were in the collections.  I personally learned a lot about Mr. Frohnmayer and University of Oregon history and am excited that future researchers will have the chance to do the same.  I had the opportunity to collaborate with several librarians to discuss best practices and explore processing strategies.  And my favorite part: that moment when the intellectual organization came together and the disparate materials suddenly made perfect sense.

Items of Note

There are so many interesting items in the Frohnmayer collections, including a beautiful wooden scrapbook from one of the Attorney General campaigns, an adorable 1st grade class photo, songs that Mr. Frohnmayer wrote and sang at various events, photographs with President Bush from a National Association of Attorneys General trip, photographs with Tom Cruise from the “Without Limits” movie premier in Eugene, a historical essay about the beard styles worn by early University of Oregon professors, and materials documenting various campus controversies.

Here are just a few of my favorite items:

Here is a delightful undated photograph of a very young David Frohnmayer in his Boy Scout regalia.

Germany trip

As a high school student in 1957, Mr. Frohnmayer took a trip to Hamburg, Germany through the American Field Service program.

Malice in Wonderland

This intriguing event program is from a satirical play put on by Mr. Frohnmayer’s law school cohort.

1970 teaching

This black and white photograph was taken during Mr. Frohnmayer’s first year of teaching at UO, in 1970.

AG campaign

Here are several pieces of ephemera from Mr. Frohnmayer’s Attorney General campaigns.

Anniversary quilt

To celebrate the University of Oregon’s 125th anniversary, several staff members collaborated on a commemorative quilt, which was finished in September 2001.

What’s Left

There is a lot left to do to process these collections—physical organization, rehousing, preservation measures, and creating finding aids.  Each box has a mixture of materials, sometimes from entirely different series and even from different collections.  Since most of the time a researcher is interested in exploring a specific theme or time period, these collections will be more easily accessible if materials are physically organized in alignment with the intellectual organization.  Along with this, most boxes are in poor condition, so materials require new boxes as well as new folders (which have to be properly labeled).  The preservation concerns that I highlighted will need to be taken care of at this time, as well—housing photographs in archival enclosures, removing rusty fasteners, interleaving delicate items with tissue paper, selecting appropriate boxes for unusual sizes and shapes of materials, and so forth.  Finally, robust finding aids need to be created using the spreadsheets and scope notes.  All of this work will ensure that the materials remain in good condition and are described to a level that will help researchers locate and interpret them.

~Caroline McNabb, Processing Archivist

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Collection Highlight, Collections, University Archives, University History

Anniversary of Harry S. Stamper, Jr.’s Passing

StamperGuitar_smallMarch 9th, 2014 marked the two year anniversary of the passing of Oregon folksinger Harry S. Stamper, Jr.  His song “We Just Come To Work Here (We Don’t Come To Die)” became the unofficial anthem of the occupational health and safety movement, and it was designated a “classic labor song” by the Smithsonian Folkways record label. During his career, Stamper, who was from Coos Bay, performed at the Great Hudson River Revival, the Highlander Center, and the San Francisco memorial for legendary labor leader Harry Bridges. His work caught the attention of renowned folk musician Pete Seeger, influential folklorist Archie Green and a host of other journalists, documentary filmmakers, scholars and union activists.

The Harry S. Stamper, Jr. Papers, which are part of the collections of the UO Special Collections & University Archives, date from 1955 to 2012 and include rare recordings, written and graphic documents and moving images. Stamper’s life and legacy was also celebrated last year in August 2013 with music, presentations, and an exhibit. In addition, we also highlighted the donation and processing of the collection here. This week we honor him, his collection, and life’s work.

~Nathan Moore (Processing Archivist, Harry Stamper Papers)

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Posted in Collection Highlight, Collections, News, This Week in History

Arrival of James Blue Collection

The University of Oregon Libraries recently acquired the collection of James Blue (1930-1980), an award-winning filmmaker and educator who graduated from the University of Oregon in 1953 (see below for images of the collection arriving). The collection extensively documents Blue’s three decades as a filmmaker and educator, as well as providing critical insights into his personal life and development as an artist. The materials include screenplays, storyboards, notes and research, correspondence, teaching materials, photographs, home movies, documentary and feature films in various formats, and audio interviews with many of the world’s leading film directors. Previous small accessions were received in prior years, however, this is the largest accretion thus far totaling 76 boxes. The collection’s size (approx. 130 linear feet), scope, and diversity of formats present an invaluable opportunity for students and researchers at UO and beyond. For the past 30 years Gerald O’Grady, who recruited Blue to SUNY Buffalo in 1977,  served as the caretaker of the collection. He and the James Blue Foundation assisted in the eventual transfer of the records to the university. The collection is on deposit until April 2014 and will be officially donated as part of the Cinema Pacific Program.

This is a major research collection of international significance. Blue’s film Olive Trees of Justice (1962) is recognized as a classic of world cinema. It won the Critic’s Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and Blue was the first American to win this prestigious award. The March (1964) is a moving documentary about the March on Washington, and is an essential record of the American Civil Rights Movement. A Few Notes on our Food Problem (1968) was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary. Blue’s twenty years of interviews with the world’s best filmmakers represent a primary tool for film research. Despite his accomplishments, Blue has been “unheralded and unrewarded… unacknowledged and unrecognized for his achievements,” according to one film historian. Preserving his papers, films, and audio materials and making them available to the public is a critical first step to bring Blue’s contributions to light and to restore him to his rightful place in film history.  Blue’s life, films and the announcement of his records coming to the university was also recently highlighted in the spring issue of the  Oregon Quarterly.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum is hosting a six-month  James Blue Tribute, an initiative to screen his various films and host guest speakers. JSMA recently screened Blue’s Cannes prize-winning film, “Olive Trees of Justice,” and will continue to screen films in March and April.

Here are links to additional information about James Blue:

IMDb page
–An interview with one of his students
Facebook page devoted to remembering James Blue
–A booklet compiled to accompany a retrospective of his films

Below are images from the arrival of the collection last week at the UO Libraries:


The 76 boxes arrived from Cambridge, Massachusetts via a Pod


James Fox, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, and Richard Herskowtiz,
Director of Cinema Pacific, unload boxes from the Pod


Stephanie Kays, Collections Management Archivist, begins to check boxes in for inventorying


Labels that will go on the outside of the boxes


Austin Munsell, Collections Coordinator, and Amy Lake, Library Facilities, unload and boxes


Unloaded boxes ready for storage in Special Collections and University Archives




Austin Munsell begins shelving boxes in our Processing Room


Richard Herskowitz and James Fox begin looking at a few boxes in the Paulson Reading Room


They discover amazing photographs from James Blue’s life


A young James Blue is pictured in this photograph

We will be posting updates about the collection as work progresses, so please check back often for new information!

~Elizabeth Peterson | Humanities Librarian and Curator of Moving Images
~Jennifer O’Neal | Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist

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Posted in Behind the Scenes, Collection Highlight, Collections, New Collections, News

Winter term hours

Hours for winter term, January 9 through March 23 are as follows:

  • Monday-Friday, 10am to 4:30pm
  • Saturday, 11am to 4:30pm
  • Sunday, closed

Paging ceases half an hour before closing.

At times we may close for events so please check our Hours page for updates.

We encourage travelers to contact us before planning a trip so we can confirm our hours and make sure the collections you need are available when you arrive.

Paging materials from our off site storage location may take additional time as well are currently down two staff members.  Please contact us with as much advance notice if you know the materials you are interested in seeing are stored off site.

Posted in Department Info