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Upcoming Talk: 1940s Conscientious Objectors Campus in Oregon, Wed., November 6

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Upcoming talk on 1940s Conscientious Objectors Camp in Oregon on Wed., Nov. 6

Here on the Edge is the long-awaited story of how a World War II conscientious objectors camp on the Oregon Coast plowed the ground for the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.    On Wednesday, November 6, at 7:00 p.m. in the Knight Library’s Browsing Room on the UO campus, author Steve McQuiddy will present a slideshow and talk on this group of artists and writers who carved an unpopular path during the dark days of the 1940s, then later inspired the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. The talk is free and open to the public, and the book will be available for purchase and signing.

McQuiddy did much of his research for Here on the Edge using materials from collections in  Special Collections and University Archives, particularly the Camp Waldport Records.

The event will also feature an exhibit of rare books and materials from the Camp Waldport Records, which includes materials produced by the Fine Arts Group at Waldport, the conscientious objectors who published books, produced plays, and made art and music—all during their limited non-work hours, with little money and resources.

For more information and background on Here on the Edge, visit http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/here-on-edge.

The talk is sponsored by the University of Oregon Libraries and the Duck Store.

A clamor for Curtis

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Val CurtisThe recent publication of Timothy Egan’s Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis has caused a boom in requests to see our copy of the original limited edition of Curtis’ landmark 20-volume The North American Indian. Just yesterday we had two independent researchers and a group of ten who all came to see it.

Pictured is one of the resent researchers, Val Priscilla Curtis, a descendent of the photographer, who said she was awed at the experience of seeing it first-hand. It’s an epic work, and an epic story.

The Object: Full sets of the Curtis work are rare; 272 bound sets were sold. Most are held by libraries and museums. When sets do come up at auction they can command a price well in excess of a million dollars. The UO copy, as mentioned in Egan’s book, holds a special rank among extent sets because it is an “association” copy. Just as a Bible owned by Abraham Lincoln would be considered much more valuable than an identical Bible owned by nobody in particular, our set is special because it previously belonged to the Curtis family. We acquired it in 1993, in part by “trading up” a set we had owned for many years.

As you can see, the images in the print folios are quite large–to give you a sense of scale, the term librarians use for volumes of this size is “elephant folio.” They are printed through the photogravure process, on very fine tissue paper adhered to mats. The plates are loose, with individual wrappers, in large portfolios. The quality is excellent, with a high level of detail and rich sepia tones. The twenty volumes of plates are accompanied by volumes of text (think encyclopedia size) that are also illustrated. Although these originals are gorgeous, hauling them out for use causes some wear and tear, no matter how careful we are. We strongly encourage people to use surrogates (check out this Library of Congress site!) instead of asking to see the originals. Because of its rarity, its value, its size and fragility, access to the UO set is limited.*

The Story: Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952) grew up in Seattle, WA and began photography in 1887, taking his first photo of a Native American in 1895. He photographed on the Harriman expedition to Alaska in 1899 and the following year, went to the Blackfleet in Montana.  In 1906, J.P. Morgan agreed to sponsor publication of the North American Indian project, which eventually included 40,000 photographs and 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of speech and music. The project was a massive undertaking that occupied Curtis for the next 24 years and in the course of it, Edward Curtis fell on hard times. He had an acrimonious divorce in 1919 and he destroyed his glass-plate negatives to keep his wife, Clara, from acquiring them through the settlement. (She still got possession of his cameras, remaining negatives and the Seattle studio, and ran it for many years.) He was arrested for failure to pay alimony and had limited or no contact with his four children until the late 1920s. The purchase price of the set was very high, not surprising given the production quality and the massive scale, and sales were limited. Neither Morgan nor Curtis profited, and the photographer eventually transferred copyright to Morgan’s son to raise some much needed cash. In 1935 the Morgan estate sold its remaining holdings from the project to Lauriat’s bookstore in Boston; some 40 years later photographer Karl Kernberger saw the Lauriat holdings, which included photogravures, negatives, and the original printing plates, and brought Edward Curtis’ work to a wide and appreciative audience.

Indians and Photographers: Edward Curtis is now very well known indeed. Which is funny, because at the turn of the century the famous photographer of American Indians was Lee Moorhouse. Who? Lee Moorhouse (1850-1926) lived in Pendleton, OR, and his extensive library of glass plate negatives is also held by UO (PH036). Moorhouse had a large collection of “Indian curios” which he used to adorn his subjects. While the objects are legitimate regalia, they were not necessarily used appropriately: Apache moccasins may be paired with a Cayuse cap on a Nez Perce sitter. In fact, Moorhouse knew Curtis and lent some of his “curios” to his fellow photographer for the same purpose. Make sure to read the Library of Congress’ online essay Edward S. Curtis In Context to appreciate both the strengths and the weaknesses of photographic documentation of tribal peoples of the time. What we inherit from these photographers and their colleagues is a body of work that is often beautiful and moving, but not necessarily accurate. Photographs are shaped as much by the lens of the photographer’s culture, intentions and assumptions as by his camera.

  • More about Curtis: There are many books available about Edward Curtis. Reprints of The North American Indian are widely available (although they are often selected portions, and printed in more convenient sizes) and the Library of Congress’ American Memory Project has an excellent site that presents digital versions of the prints.
  • More about Moorhouse: See our digital collection Picturing the Cayuse or read the terrific book by Steven J. Grafe, Peoples of the Plateau: The Indian Photographs of Lee Moorhouse, 1898-1915. (We are happy to report that we are close to completing comprehensive digitization of the Moorhouse collection–stay tuned!)
  • More about our tribal collections: Check out our digital collection,  Tribal Legacies, to see the amazing scope of our holdings about North American native peoples!

*Limited access means: Sorry, we can’t haul them out on a moment’s notice. For these, we really need a prior, confirmed appointment to ensure we have the staffing needed to present high-value items securely. We do have a smaller facsimile edition that you can see during our regular hours with no appointment necessary. We’re a public institution so we have a moral obligation to make our holdings available for use, but we also have a moral obligation to be good stewards of our heritage, and protect these babies. We always do our best to meet your needs as well as those of generations to come.

Becoming a Comics Journalist: Joe Sacco’s Visit to Special Collections and University Archives

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Joe Sacco is a comics journalist whose work is based on intensive on-the-scene research and interviews, close observation, and dramatic graphic representation.  Many of his books deal with war and conflict. One U.S. publisher, Macmillan, has called him “the world’s greatest cartoon reporter.”

Sacco is shown in these photos signing copies of his book Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995, in the Special Collections and University Archives classroom. The students in this Freshman Seminar, “From Gothic Script to Graphic Novel,” taught by James Fox and Marilyn Reaves, were assigned this book for a reading and drawing project. Sacco graciously agreed to come down from Portland to meet with the class and answer their many questions about wartime journalism, publishing, creativity, drawing, his career path, his involvement with the people and places in his books. He is an eloquent speaker and deep thinker; it was a lively and inspiring interchange.

Sacco has won several major book awards for his work:

Palestine: American Book Award (1996)

Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995: Eisner Award for Best Original Graphic Novel (2001)

Footnotes in Gaza: A Graphic Novel: Oregon Book Award (2012)

These and other books by Joe Sacco are held in Special Collections and University Archives. Journalism, published this year, is a collection of shorter pieces on conflicts around the world. His most recent book, with Chris Hedges, entitled Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, examines poverty in several regions of America. It was a pleasure having him visit the University of Oregon Library.

–Marilyn Reaves, Assistant to the Director

Native American Heritage Month

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Siletz Tribal Royalty at campus Pow Wow, date unknown.

The month of November is celebrated as Native American Heritage Month across the United States. During this time we honor and celebrate the importance of the indigenous peoples of this continent who have lived on these lands since time immemorial and who continue to thrive across the country today. Some basic background information about the history of Native American Heritage Month can be found here.

Various archive repositories, both local and national, are honoring the beauty of Native American archive collections. National repositories in Washington, DC have a created a web portal devoted to collections, exhibits, as well as resources for teachers. At the University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives we are honored to be the stewards of various Native American collections that represent the breadth and scope of the tribal communities across Oregon and the greater Northwest. We honor their history and beauty that resonates in the past, present, and future generations.

For a comprehensive list of our Native American collections, see our Tribal Legacies project. The database presents a first step in providing extended access to materials pertaining to Native American ethnography and history in the University of Oregon Libraries. The digital collection brings together information from UO Libraries’ documents, maps, photographs, and manuscript collections.  We previously highlighted this database when we celebrated Native American Day in September; more information can be found here .

Knight Library is also pleased to host an exhibit honoring Jim Thorpe, November 12th through January 31st:  “The Greatest Athlete in History! An Exhibit Honoring Jim Thorpe.” Before Ashton Eaton, Dan and Dave, and Bruce Jenner, there was Jim Thorpe. This exhibit honors the life, legacy and contemporary issues associated with this multi-talented Sac and Fox sports and cultural icon, locating him firmly within Sac and Fox and Native American historical contexts. The exhibit can be seen on the first floor of Knight Library directly in front of the Circulation Desk.

In addition, across the University of Oregon campus there are numerous events being held in honor of Native American Heritage Month. You can see a full list compiled by the Native American Student Union here. The majority of these events will take place at the Many Nations Longhouse on campus.

Please join the University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives in the important celebration.

Jennifer R. O’Neal
Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist

When Susan B. Anthony Tried to Vote

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Given the Oregon Suffrage Centennial and today’s election, here’s a wonderful summation by Doug Linder (2001) :  The Trial of Susan B. Anthony for Illegal Voting

“Susan B. Anthony is not on trial; the United States is on trial.”–Matilda Joslyn Gage

Don’t forget, if you want to explore primary sources on Oregon women and politics, we have Abigail Scott Duniway papers among others, and through an LSTA grant from the Oregon State Library, we recently posted finding aids to the  Gretchen Kafoury papers and the Nancie Fadeley papers. Through the end of this year, we’ll be completing description of materials related to the Oregon Women’s Political Caucus, and NOW. Stay tuned!

Exhibit: Vintage editorial cartoons about elections!

Monday, November 5th, 2012

The Price of Freedom

Stop by the SCUA hallway today to see some great examples from our collection of original artwork for editorial cartoons. These are poster-sized work, inked onto card stock, from the days when all the drawing, lettering and inking was done by hand.

Many of the visitors to this exhibit come away shaking their heads, because it can seem as if nothing much has changed over the years.  In 1932, Quincy Scott (1882-1965) was worried about Oregon voters who weren’t paying attention to the measures on the ballot. In “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance,” the background to the conversation shown here has a scene from the Revolutionary War, “1776: We fight for the right to govern ourselves. 1932: We govern ourselves.” Scott  was the editorial cartoonist for The Oregonian from  1931-1949.

We also hold work by Homer Davenport (1867-1912) of Silverton, Oregon, who became the most highly paid political cartoonist of his time. Davenport started at the Portland Mercury, moved to the San Francisco Examiner, and then was hired by William Randolph Hearst for the New York Journal. Davenport’s attacks on the McKinley campaign and their ties to big business. These cartoons enraged his critics so much that they attempted to pass an anti-cartoon bill through the New York legislature in 1897, but Davenport’s public supporters defeated the legislation.

Compare these cartoons to those you see in today’s newspapers, and you’ll see one huge difference: the amount of text. The visual literacy expectations for the public were much lower, so everything was labeled to make sure the meaning was clear. Here you can see that the Ancient Mariner embodies “Depression Complex” and his deadly weapon is “Voting Without Thinking.” (The dead albatross is “Actual Progress Toward Recovery by the Hoover Administration.”) The title of the cartoon is “The Ancient Marine Made a Mistake.”





Harry Stamper remembered

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Harry Stamper (1944-2012) was an Oregon longshoreman and a noted musician who combined messages of both labor and environmentalism in his songs. His song, “We Just Come to Work Here, We Don’t Come to Die” is considered a classic in labor and folk song circles, the anthem of the occupational health and safety movement, and is included in the Smithsonian Folkways album, Classic Labor Songs.

The Stamper collection arrived at SCUA recently, and is being processed by a Folklore student, Nathan Moore. SCUA has a close relationship with Folklore’s Mills Archive and the Oregon Folklife Network (OFN), which recently relocated to the UO campus.

Nathan brings more to this processing project than just his academic training. He’s a folk musician, part of the Low Tide Drifters, and he knew and played with Harry Stamper. It’s always fun to see a student get really excited about the collection he is processing!

Harry and Nathan

Nathan’s film about Stamper, We Just Come to Work Here: The Music of Harry Stamper, will be shown at a film festival in Canada this year. You can see the film on YouTube, and please check out the Remember Harry page (from which this great photo is borrowed). Stay tuned; we’ll post as soon as the Stamper collection is available for research.

Native American Day

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Lacy Luton and Ruth Coyote (Cayuse), Moorehouse Collection, PH036, University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives

Did you know that today is Native American Day? Although we nationally celebrate Native American   Heritage  month during November each year, the fourth Friday in September is observed by various states and specific tribal communities as Native American Day. This is historically traced back to 1968, when California Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution designating the fourth Friday in September as American Indian Day. In 1998, the California State Assembly enacted legislation creating Native American Day as an official state holiday. In turn, numerous other state and tribal governments followed suit to observe Native American Day on the fourth Friday in September.

In honor of this very important day, we would like to highlight our various Native American collections that represent the breadth and scope of the tribal communities across Oregon and the greater Northwest. We honor their history and beauty that resonates in the past, present, and future generations.

For a comprehensive list of our Native American collections, see our Tribal Legacies project. The database presents a first step in providing extended access to materials pertaining to Native American ethnography and history in the University of Oregon Libraries. The digital collection brings together information from UO Libraries’ documents, maps, photographs, and manuscript collections.  Focusing on the Pacific Northwest, the collections feature archival materials that contain either brief references to indigenous people or are completely dedicated to their coverage.  In the spirit of document accessibility, Tribal Legacies highlights relevant collections, from nineteenth century Alaska Native ethnography to Klamath Restoration, to provide a comprehensive source for academic research and Native American documentation. Researchers can browse the collection by culture/group, organization, subject, time period, collection, or material type. In addition, you can also do specific searches within the collection. The site also has related resources including specific digital collections, resources at the UO Libraries, and links to external websites. Numerous individuals across the campus worked on this project and their efforts have been acknowledged here–thank you for all your hard work and dedication.

Chief No Shirt and Wife, Moorehouse Collection, University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives, PH036

For questions related to any of these collections, please contact us directly.

Jennifer R. O’Neal (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde)
Corrigan Solari University Historian and Archivist


Did you know…our researchers come from far afield!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

In just one week over the summer, we had researchers

  • From France: two documentary film makers, using our many lesbian land collections.
  • From Canada: a professor in linguistics, using the Southwest Oregon Research Project (SWORP) collections.
  • From Belgium: a doctoral student writing his dissertation on contemporary conservative thought, using our conservative and libertarian collections.
  • In addition to researchers from campus and from elsewhere in the US.

In the last five years, our visitors have traveled from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Japan and New Zealand. We’ve had multiple film crews from Japanese TV producers in addition to scholars from universities.

We also have many, many reference inquires from abroad. Bruce, who learns languages as a hobby, makes a point of responding to emails in the sender’s language whenever possible.


Did You Know…where the Oregon Collection was born?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The Oregon Collection is primarily books about the Northwest or by Northwest authors. It’s always been heavily used, in part because much of it has always been findable through the card catalog and now  in our on-line catalog. But where do fundamental collections like this get started?

The Oregon Collection actually debuted in San Francisco! It was assembled as part of the Oregon exhibit for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition by Allen Eaton (1878-1962). Graduating from UO in 1902, Eaton played an important role in the development of the cultural community in Eugene. He opened the first book and art store in the city, organized its first art exhibition, and taught the University’s first art appreciation class. He was the youngest member of the Oregon Legislature, serving five terms as representative for Lane County.

After the Exposition closed, the Oregon books came to the University and formed the nucleus of the Rare Book Collection. We continue to add newly published and vintage materials to the Oregon Collection, to ensure that researchers have access to the full spectrum of books by and about Oregonians, now and in the years to come.