New Notable Collections


We are pleased to announce some new notable collections and materials that we received over the past nine months. These reflect the breadth and depth of our collections and illustrates our commitment to acquire a diverse range of materials, which support all types of research from K-12 education to international scholarship.


James Blue papers and moving images

This 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.


Zola Grimes graduation dress and photograph

This collection includes the dress and shoes worn by Zola Grimes (Sorenson), as well as the fan she carried, when she graduated from the University of Oregon in 1894. It is accompanied by a framed portrait of Zola Grimes (Sorenson) wearing the dress.


Harney County photograph collection

Originally discovered in the rafters of a photo studio in Burns, Oregon, this collection contains approximately 15,000 images documenting Harney County, Oregon circa 1897 through the early 1950s.


Yoko Matsuoka McClain papers

McClain taught Japanese at the University of Oregon from 1964 to 1994, when she became professor emerita. She continued to write extensively and frequently lectured in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. This collection documents her work as educator and scholar.


James Smircich photographs

This collection contains vintage prints and negatives of Ken Kesey’s bus Further, Acid Tests, Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Mountain Girl, Pig Pen), Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin.


Eckard V. Toy papers

Toy earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from the University of Oregon. This collection contains pamphlets, newsletters, catalogs, ephemera and audio recordings related to Toy’s study of the history of race and ultra conservatism in the Pacific Northwest.


Peg Lynch papers

A writer for radio and television, Margaret Frances “Peg” Lynch is known in particular for her “Ethel and Albert” radio and television program that aired in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) received 30 linear feet of additional material to add to the Peg Lynch papers.


Ken Kesey letters

SCUA received two gifts to add to the Ken Kesey papers: Twelve letters between Kesey and psychiatrist F. Lewis Bartlett; and a letter from Kesey to his brother Joe, circa 1962.




Posted in Collections, Manuscripts, New Collections, Research Highlights, University Archives

New Exhibits and Talk Highlight the Life of Senator Wayne Morse

Two exhibits on Senator Wayne Morse, an Oregonian who was a proud and controversial figure in state and national politics for more than four decades, reveal much about his public and private life as one of the country’s most influential politicians.

Adobe Photoshop PDFSenator Wayne Morse, Fierce Independent: Political Cartoons, 1941-1966,” on display in Knight Library’s east and west entryways, recounts in graphic cartoon form the impact Morse had on the nation—in both the political and policy arenas–during his long stay in Washington, D.C. The hand-drawn, original cartoons signed by their creators and published by influential newspapers nationwide, are on display, along with historical background that puts the cartoons in context. The exhibit was made possible through an arrangement between the Wayne Morse Historical Park Corporation, UO’s Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, and the library’s Special Collections and University Archives. You can see selected cartoons here on the Center’s website.

The second exhibit, “Wayne Morse: From Campus to Congress, 1929-1968,” on display in the exhibit cases on the first floor of Knight Library near the Browsing Room, traces the development of Morse’s influence not only on national politics but on state and campus politics as well. The spotlight was trained on Morse early in his career; he became a member of the UO’s law school in 1929 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the youngest law school dean in the nation at age 30 in 1931. He helped the UO navigate through several notable administrative disruptions throughout throughout his time on campus while simultaneously serving as a presidentially appointed labor arbitrator for much of the Pacific Northwest. Many of these items come various collections in Special Collections and University Archives, including the Wayne Morse Papers.morsecampustocongress

“The items displayed in the exhibit are an excellent reflection of the types of sources available for research in the Morse Papers,” said Linda Long, Manuscripts Librarian. “These primary sources provide many opportunities for researchers to study Morse or topics related to his tenure in the Senate. The collection is particularly rich in topics relating to Oregon and the West: natural resources (including extensive files on public works), fisheries, forestry and the timber industry. Broader topics of deep interest to Senator Morse, such as civil rights, the economy and finance, education, foreign relations, health and welfare are also well represented. These primary sources—the documents necessary for the writing of history—are essential to the research process, and are available to all researchers in the Special Collections and University Archives Paulson Reading Room.”

For exhibit viewing hours in Knight Library, visit

Both exhibits are in support of a free public talk on the impact of political cartoons by Jack Ohman, former Oregonian cartoonist and now editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee, on October 3 at 7 p.m. in Gerlinger Hall on the UO campus. For more information on the talk, visit and

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Posted in Events, Exhibitions

Celebrating National Comic Book Day

Ghost Rider, no. 10, 1952

Ghost Rider, no. 10, 1952

Happy National Comic Book Day!! We are pleased to celebrate this day and highlight some amazing comics from the Gardner Fox collection. A prolific author of comic books, as well as other genres, Gardner “Gar” Francis Fox (1911-1986) was one of the most influential comic book script writers in the business. A part of this branch of Americana since its inception, Fox wrote before the advent of Superman and Batman and continued to script comics until his death.


In the early years of comic books, he created the first Flash comic, wrote for Justice Society of America, did several issues of Detective Batman, Dr. Fate, Spectre and Starman, all for National Comics. He later created Magazine Enterprises’ Ghost Rider, one of the most widely read series of the period when heroes began to fade out. For Columbia Comics, he wrote some Big Shot Comics. Later, when revivals were popular, he wrote Adam Strange, Justice Society of America, Justice League and other super hero stories.

Justice League of America, no. 5, July 1961

Justice League of America, no. 5, July 1961


We are honored to have this collection in our repository and to have the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues on campus like Professor Ben Saunders who specialize in this type of publication and who recently established the new minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies at UO, the first academic minor of its kind in the country.

Wild Bill Hickok, no. 2, Dec.-Jan., 1949-1950

Wild Bill Hickok, no. 2, Dec.-Jan., 1949-1950

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Posted in Collection Highlight, Manuscripts, National Celebrations

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