Chemawa History

The Charles E. Larsen Chemawa Indian School collection, recently added to the Archives, provides a unique look at the Chemawa Indian School and Northwest Native American history.Chemawa Indian School Charles Larsen, being of Chinook descent, was a Chemawa student from 1893 to 1902. He then spent 31 of the next 44 years working at Chemawa as the assistant clerk, dairyman, disciplinarian, band instructor and athletics coach until 1946. Larsen’s goal while working at Chemawa was to document the school’s valuable history.


The bulk of this collection consists of the Chemawa history that Larsen wrote. The collection also includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, handbooks, and graduation lists compiled by Larsen throughout his time working at Chemawa, as well as his time working with the Klamath, Siletz, and Tulalip Indian Agencies in Oregon and Washington. Larsen’s typewriter, on which he typed much of his work, is also part of his collection.

Charles Larsen












Check out the Finding Aid to learn more about the collection, or come visit the Archives to discover Larsen and early Chemawa history.


History at Your Fingertips!

What will you search for?

Have you ever wondered what was written in the first Collegian? What were students’ concerns in the 1910s, 1940s, or 1980s? What did Blitz look like before he was Blitz? Soon, those answers will be just clicks away!

History at Your Fingertips



Now, you can find some of those answers in the new exhibit on the second floor of the Hatfield Library. History at Your Fingertips is in place to honor the upcoming reveal of the digitized Collegians and Wallulahs. This fall, both the Collegian  newspaper and the Wallulah  yearbook will be available via the Archives’ website, will be keyword searchable, and will provide a level of access to Willamette University history never before possible.


The History at your Fingertips exhibit features themes from student life, student protests, athletics, and Lausanne Hall. Get a sense of what articles your search will pull up, and what treasures you might find: from articles on the haunting of Lausanne Hall; to advertisements for typewriters; to stories of students riding their horses to class in the 1800s. A wealth of Willamette history will be just clicks away. Collegian athletics


Come see the exhibit anytime the Hatfield Library is open.

Welcome to Willamette!

For well over 160 years Willamette University has been welcoming new students to campus!












Today begins Opening Days, in which over 500 freshman, transfer, and international students, and their families arrive on campus. Welcome to Willamette, and to Opening Days, new students and families!

More early images of Willamette campus are available in the Willamette Archives and via our Campus Photographs collection.

Wilbur letters digitized


Thanks to the work of summer intern, Bronte Dodd, who scanned and uploaded the correspondence, and attached metadata including transcriptions, James Harvey Wilbur’s papers are now available online.

James Harvey Wilbur (1811-1887) came to the Oregon Territory in 1846 as part of the Oregon Methodist Mission. In 1848, he became principal of the Oregon Institute, where he and his wife, Lucretia Anne, taught. After the Oregon Institute became Willamette University in 1853, Wilbur served as a member of the board of trustees and was as temporary president on two occasions. Wilbur served as an agent at the Yakama Indian Agency near Walla Walla in the Washington Territory for nearly 20 years. Wilbur collected businesses records and correspondence throughout his life, as well as writing a journal about his travels around Cape Horn from New York to Oregon.

Wilbur1Well over 400 pages of Wilbur’s correspondence and ledgers can now be viewed online, along with their transcriptions. The bulk of the material is from the 1880s and pertains to Wilbur’s career as Indian Agent for the Yakama Reservation at Fort Simcoe in the Washington Territory.

Wilbur’s letters and business documents can be viewed online here.

View the James Harvey Wilbur papers finding aid to see all of the materials available in the Archives.

Ban on Dancing

DancingPoll12_7_1933Given its Methodist heritage, dancing and card playing were forbidden on the Willamette campus until the 1930s. While the dancing ban was a fact of  Willamette life in its early years, through the 1910s and 1920s students were beginning to find issue with the ban. Student body numbers were increasing, and many students had grown up dancing at local social events. By 1933, the Associated Students of Willamette University conducted a poll inquiring about students’ desire to partake in social dancing functions. With a vote of 369 to 67, the vast majority of students just wanted to dance! The response from the Board of Trustees was to restate that “Sunday afternoon teas, which have been becoming increasingly popular on campus, meet administration requirements only as long as no dancing or card-playing is permitted.”


Photographs and newspapers help us imagine students’ reactions to their social regulation. While we do not know the true story behind these women dancing, perhaps their dance with dummies is in protest to the ban on social dancing.

You can view this photo, and many like it, in the Paulus Glass Plate Negatives collection. You can find reactions to the ban on dancing in the Collegian, which is currently available in the Archives and soon to be available from anywhere on the Archives website.

Digitizing the Collegian and Wallulah

Just in time for students’ return in the fall, Willamette history will be at our fingertips! The digitization of the Collegian newspaper, dating from 1875, and the Wallulah yearbook, dating from 1903, will be complete late this summer. Digitization of the Collegian was outsourced to iArchives and scanning began in November 2013. Archives Administrative Assistant, Christopher McFetridge, unbound each page, checked for missing material, and with assistance from Archives Intern, Nina Kulander, monitored the quality of scans produced by iArchives. In monitoring these scans, wonderful images, such as this ‘flat screen’ of 1974, have been discovered.

Flat Screen 1974

Both the Collegian and the Wallulah will be available this fall via the Archives’ website, will be keyword searchable, and will provide a level of access to Willamette and university history never before possible.

Jack Kenneth Eyerly 1935-2014

Ultimate NW Art Facilitator Dies at 79

Photograph taken by Jim Lehman.
Photograph taken by Jim Lehman.

Jack Eyerly was born in Portland, raised in Salem and, except for one year of studies at the Fine Arts Center School in Colorado Springs, lived for most of his adult years in Portland, where he was an important force in the art world.  For nearly 40 years Jack Eyerly wanted to meet every artist in the NW and nearly did. A creative and inventive artist, Jack put his energy into helping artists meet other artists and to find opportunities to exhibit and present their artwork. He also helped museums, colleges, and universities identify and locate artists for exhibits, lectures and special projects in the traditional arts, then in film and video and, finally, in computers. From low-fired ceramics to high tech artistic fireworks, Jack found ways to help artists exhibit and sell their work and they were extremely grateful for his efforts.

In his early days Jack drove his VW Van to Eastern Oregon to visit Betty Feves, to Southern Oregon Coast to see Tom Hardy and Eugene to visit David Stannard. He would pack up some of Stannard’s pottery and try to sell it along the roadside. He was an artist’s friend of immense proportions.

Margaret Ringnalda, English and drama teacher at Willamette University, recalled Jack’s efforts in the 1960s to promote and build sets and props for the new Pentacle Theatre in Salem. “He continually solved complex mechanical problems for us. He also helped make the Bush Barn a showplace for the work of regional artists.  I recall that he was promoting (Tom) Hardy’s metal sculpture at the time too.”

Jack came from a family of innovators and inventors. In the 1920s, his grandfather, Lee Eyerly, started a flying school in Salem, for which he designed an early flight simulator. During the Depression, he converted the device into a carnival ride, then followed it with the Roll-O-Plane, the Loop-O-Plane and the Octopus, eventually becoming one of the largest carnival ride manufacturers in the world.  Jack’s uncle Harry Eyerly built and drove racing cars and had the first Volkswagen Auto dealership in the Willamette Valley and sold the first VW to David Foster, art teacher at Springfield high school; Jack’s father, Jack V. Eyerly, ran Eyerly Aircraft after the death of their father. Another relative was Ray Eyerly, famous for his extreme detailed drawings and paintings of ranches and barns of Central Oregon.

Jack knew most of the art gallery directors in the NW and helped them find artists for shows. He worked closely with the New Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Fountain Gallery in Portland, The Evergreen State College Gallery, and developed a successful art gallery at Mt. Angel College. Jack’s late wife, Polly Illo Eyerly, collaborated with him on dozens of art exhibits and projects throughout the 20 years of their marriage.  In her position as Education Curator for the Portland Art Museum and through their friendship with isolated artists like Clifford Gleason and Rick Bartow, they offered kindness and support to a wide roster of Pacific Northwest artists.

An obsessive correspondent, Jack wrote to hundreds of people on a regular basis for years. He was the internet of networking before the internet. His massive collection of letters, art show announcements, and flyers are now in the Pacific Northwest Artists Archives at Willamette University in Salem.

Jack was a founding member of Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), an organization launched in 1967 by engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhauer and artists Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman. Jack guided the Portland regional chapter, one of 28 across the U.S., in its mission to promote collaborations between artists and engineers and expand the artist’s role in social developments related to new technologies.

After 1988, Jack worked for Albertina Kerr, where he started a program to help developmentally disabled people make useful things out of discarded materials. As Ringnalda said, “He had a generous creativity that was an essential part of his genius.”

Photograph taken by Bud Clark.
Photograph taken by Bud Clark.

Jack is survived by his wife Dee Eyerly of Woodland, WA; sister Jan Stebner of Salem; brothers Jon and Steve Eyerly of Salem; sister Sharon Eyerly Hill of Palm Springs; and Dana Illo, daughter of Polly Eyerly.

(Obituary courtesy of Martha Gies, Norma Heyser, Kenneth O’Connell, and Jim Shull.)

The Willamette University Archives and Special Collections houses the Jack Eyerly collection. Contact us for more information.

The Bill Rhoades Northwest Art Archive is open for research

RhoadesThe Bill Rhoades Northwest Art Archive is a compilation of interviews, correspondence, and printed materials from Northwest Artists. Bill Rhoades has been an advocate for Northwest Art since before 1997, when he began donating collected artworks to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. In addition to collecting and donating artwork, Rhoades has collected printed materials, interviews, artifacts, and correspondence that highlight Northwest artists and their work.

In the collection, researchers will find printed materials about exhibitions and gallery shows featuring Northwest Artists such as Henk Pander, Carl Hall, and Eunice Parsons. Photographs of Rhoades with many of the Northwest artists, as well as artifacts such as Manuel Izquierdo’s sunglasses, Louis Bunce’s paintbrushes, and napkin drawings from multiple artists are also included in this collection. Come examine the collection!


Myra Albert Wiggins

Diaries will soon be digitized!

The Myra Albert Wiggins papers are an avenue into the life of a female artist in the early twentieth century. Myra Albert Wiggins (1869-1956) was a successful photographer, painter, and poet who grew up in Salem, Oregon and attended Willamette University. She showed natural artistic talent at an early age, spending hours drawing and painting in her home and in fields around Salem. She won the first of many awards for painting at the Oregon State Fair when she was 17. Between 1886 and 1907 she won a total of 94 more state fair awards for her art.

Between 1891 and 1894, Wiggins studied at the Art Students League in New York. In the early 1900s, Wiggins also engaged in pictorial photography, which involved using the camera to creating images intended to evoke emotional expression. Using artwork as an artistic medium was a new phenomenon at the time. Wiggins’ took pictorial photographs as she traveled throughout Europe, Egypt and Turkey.Wiggins Scrapbook

Wiggins was one of the first women to become a member of The Camera Club of New York. In 1903, Alfred Stieglitz, one of the most important photographers of the time, admitted her as a member of Photo-Secession, a movement of photographers united to promote photography as art. Wiggins continued as a painter, photographer and poet in Salem, Oregon, and Seattle and Toppenish, Washington. She co-founded the Women Painters of Washington in 1930, and was featured in exhibitions throughout the United States including the National Gallery in Washington, D.C and the National Academy in New York. She also taught and wrote on topics of photography and painting.

The Willamette University Archives and Special Collections is home to the Myra Albert Wiggins papers, a collection of correspondence, photographs, and artwork. Her papers contain correspondence with family and friends as well as business correspondence about her artwork. The Wiggins papers also contain memorabilia and Wiggins’ diaries written between 1936 and 1944. Thanks to a recently awarded Hewlett Grant, these diaries will soon be digitized and transcribed.

For more information on Wiggins, researchers can see the Bonnie and Roger Hull collection on Myra Albert Wiggins. This collection is a compilation of photographs, correspondence and research materials assembled by Bonnie and Roger Hull for their exhibition and article honoring Wiggins.

Find more about the Myra Albert Wiggins collection

WU Archives and Special Collections Welcomes Ashley Toutain!


Ashley photoAshley Toutain joins the Archives’ team full-time as the Processing Archivist and Records Manager. Since September 2012, Ashley has been employed part-time as Willamette’s Assistant Records Manager.  In that role, Ashley has contributed significantly by helping to process a backlog of university records that have been accumulating for decades.  In addition to processing university records, Ashley curated an exhibit on Willamette’s behalf for the annual Heritage Invitational Exhibition at the Willamette Heritage Center. The exhibit highlighted the many components that comprise a successful archives program. A native of Eastern Oregon, Ashley graduated from Willamette University in 2008 with a B.A. in history. She then attended the University of Kansas where she received her M.A. in Museum Studies.

Ashley brings to the position a collaborative and innovative working-style as well as a keen appreciation for the history of Willamette University and the surrounding region. Please join us in welcoming Ashley!