Archives News

Renovation of Archives and Special Collections

Willamette University Archives and Special Collections will be closed for renovations during the month of June. If you know that you will need access to specific records/collections during the month of June please let Mary McRobinson know before June 4th so that the materials can be pulled and made accessible before renovations begin.

The offices of University Archivist Mary McRobinson; Archivist and Records Manager Rose Marie Walter and Administrative Assistant Veronica Ramos will be relocated on the first floor of the library during this time. Please direct questions to Mary McRobinson at mmcrobin@willamette.edu or 503-370-6764. Information will be provided when the archives is open again.

Independent minds

As Oregon marks the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote with various events, we have been looking through our collections for examples of women who were role models and leaders in their time. A wonderful collection of letters and autographs provides several examples of such women.

Viola Price Franklin, whose husband was a Willamette University professor and university librarian from 1918 to 1936, had collected letters and autographs from well-known literary and political figures for many years. When she died, her sister donated this collection to our archives. Getting these letters ready for researchers to use, I discovered letters by Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Mary Longfellow. Each of these women was a leader during her life time. These letters reflect the strong wills and independence of thought they possessed in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a time when women were not generally encouraged to think of anything but house and home.

Anthony and Stanton, of course, were major leaders in the movement to obtain the vote for women; Alcott was an author whose female characters provided positive models for young women; Longfellow, daughter of poet Henry W. Longfellow, started an educational institution that allowed women to get the equivalent of a Harvard education, complete with degree, at a time when Harvard did not admit women.

These letters, along with the others in the collection, can be read and studied at the university archives between the hours of 9 to noon and 1 to 4, Monday through Friday. Many of the letters can also be read by clicking on Viola’s name earlier in this post and looking through the Contents List. Explore the literary and feminist roots of the nineteenth century and discover the real people whose names you see in history books. We look forward to seeing you at the archives.

Rose Marie Walter, Archivist

Chloe Clarke Willson

2012 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the year Oregon granted women the vote. Events are taking place throughout the year leading up to November, 1912. Several websites have information about prominent women in Oregon during the last one hundred years, including “Women Suffrage in Oregon” at the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Willamette University has a place in this history, starting in 1844 when it opened its doors as the Oregon Institute. Our first teacher was Chloe Clarke Willson, a woman who came out to the Northwest Territory from New England in 1839. We are fortunate to have a journal Chloe Clarke kept during her voyage out and during the early part of her life in the Northwest. A devote Methodist, Chloe felt called to teach Christianity to the natives in the Northwest. During the almost two years she was on the clipper ship, the Lausanne, she writes often about her spiritual experience and her activities while on board ship. Continue reading »

Oregon Archives Crawl


Everyone is invited to the 2nd Annual Oregon Archives Crawl on Saturday, October 15th in Portland, Oregon. Start at any of the four host locations (Portland Archives and Records Center, the Portland State University Millar Library, Multnomah County Central Library or the Oregon Historical Society) and get ready to dive head first into history. Information about times, events and activities are found at the Oregon Archives Crawl blog. We look forward to meeting you there!

Welcome to our world

Welcome to the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections website. Tucked away on the second floor, northwest corner, of the Mark O. Hatfield Library, past the long wall display case, Willamette’s Archives holds treasures as diverse as a doctor’s medical case from the 1800s; the travel journal of an early Willamette president; the papers of Northwest artist Carl Hall; a King James Version of the Bible that came out on the Oregon Trail and the journal of the first teacher at the Oregon Institute. The Archives also house copies of all Willamette University’s (WU’s) catalogs, bulletins and yearbooks; records of past WU administrations and seven collections of Oregon state and federal political representatives. And I’ve not even mentioned the collection of Civil War letters, an original town plat of early 1800s Salem, a collection of papers from an early Oregon State Supreme Court Justice…. Continue reading »