Colonel John Leader, The Man Who Prepared Oregon for World War I

UARef3_b0073_f0010-page-001An interesting question about a seminal figure on the University of Oregon campus in the early 20th century came in last week. We received an email from Patrickswell in County Limerick, Ireland that sought more information about Colonel John Leader, the man who formed the ROTC program on the University of Oregon campus and played an integral role in preparing Oregon for World War I. Below is a paraphrased summary of the request:


We have a building which we have been advised belongs to the family of  Lieutenant-Colonel John Leader 16th (Service – Pioneer) Battalion. We are trying to protect this building for future generations and have it claimed as a listed building before some friendly local developer decides to tear it down and build some modern apartment block or something worse!! We’re hoping to use this building as the local community hall that would serve the good of the local village, young and old alike, but I’m not very good at searching the net I’m afraid.

If you could provide some background or pictures on Lieutenant-Colonel John Leader, that would be just amazing and all I can offer is a heartfelt thank you and possibly an invite to the opening of the centre once we secure the building as a listed building and have it restored to its natural beauty. I cannot offer much more by way of begging… Our little village is tiny in size — 3 pubs, 3 food stores and petrol stations, 2 hair dressers, 1 chemist, 1 school, 1 local GAA hall, and a very much needed building that reminds us all where we came from.


This inquiry led us to investigate deeper in the stacks. What we learned was the story of a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life.

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Posted in Documenting UO History Project, Research Highlights, University History

Remembering Karl Onthank, Conservationist and Humanitarian

Onthank_Karl_1Karl Onthank played a prominent role as a humanitarian and conservationist at the University of Oregon during the first half of the 20th century. For four decades, Onthank served in a variety of administrative roles at the university and contributed significantly in his service to students. We are pleased to highlight some of his key contributions to UO and the state of Oregon throughout his career.

Onthank first arrived at the UO campus in 1909 as an undergraduate student. During his time as a student, Onthank helped found the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and served as the editor of the student newspaper and yearbook. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from UO in June 1913, Onthank returned to the campus during the next few summers, earning his Master of Arts in 1915. Read more ›

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Posted in Documenting UO History Project, This Week in History, University Archives, University History

Oregon’s Civil War Duel: An Overview of Historical Highlights

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Oregon and Oregon State square off in the 118th edition of the Civil War game at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. With few exceptions, the Ducks and Beavers have faced one another annually since 1894 in the oldest college football rivalry west of the Rocky Mountains. We are pleased to offer an overview of the century-long duel between the Ducks and Beavers, which has featured many notable highlights throughout the decades.


The first years of the rivalry were marked by lopsided scores and growing animosities. Oregon Agricultural College, as Oregon State was known until 1927, won the inaugural meeting 16-0 in Corvallis in 1894. Two years later, violence between rival fans after a 12-8 Oregon road victory nearly led to the permanent cancellation of the series. Cooler heads prevailed until 1899, when deputy sheriffs patrolled the sidelines in Eugene during what the Eugene Guard called the “Hayseed Waterloo” – a second straight 38-0 shutout victory for the Webfoots. Read more ›

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Posted in This Week in History, University Archives, University History

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

~Guest post by David Woken, History and Latin American Studies Librarian, for National Hispanic Heritage Month

latino roots imageSpanish-speaking peoples have shaped Oregon for centuries, and the University of Oregon Libraries are committed to making sure that role is understood.  The first Europeans to explore the Oregon coast were acting on behalf of the Spanish Empire in the 1700s and left a legacy of geographical names, including Heceta Head (named for Spanish naval officer Bruno de Hezeta y Dudagoitia), Tierra del Mar, Umatilla, and many more that are still used today.  In the 1800s, as the U.S. exerted control of the lands that are now Oregon and Anglo-American setters moved in, Latino mule traders from the formerly Mexican territories of California and Nevada provided guidance and logistical support to soldiers and settlers from the U.S., and Californian vaqueros (origin of the English word buckaroo) established the work practices and culture we associate with the cowboys and ranchers of the Oregon’s high plains.

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Posted in Collections, National Celebrations

Student Job Positions: Research Assistant and Intern

We are pleased to announce that we have two exciting new student job positions available for the 2014-2015 school year.

The first position is for an Archives Research Assistant that will focus on the “Documenting UO History Project” that aims to research, document, and disseminate major portions of university history. This position will be responsible for conducting in-depth historical research of significant university history, writing detailed historical overviews, and providing basic descriptions of collection contents. The full job description and instructions for applying can be found here.

We are also doing a search for an Archive Intern for the 2014-2015 school year. This position will focus on providing the student with a learning environment experience to assist in preparing them for a professional archive position. The Archive Intern will be responsible for performing a variety of tasks in arrangement and description, outreach and instruction, and communications. The full job description and instructions for applying can be found here.

Please share widely!

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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.

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

New Exhibits and Talk Highlight the Life of Senator Wayne Morse

Adobe Photoshop PDFTwo 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.

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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.

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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. Read more ›

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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.

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Posted in Collection Highlight, Collections, Events, New Collections