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Oregon Lesbian Land Manuscript Collections in Special Collections

This guide offers brief descriptions of relevant Oregon Lesbian Land manuscript collections. Links are provided whenever online inventories exist.

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Preferred Citation Format for SCUA Materials

[Identification of item], Date (if known), Collection Title, Collection Number, Box and Folder number [or photo ID number], Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Mission | Special Collections & University Archives

Special Collections and University Archives is the primary repository for the University of Oregon’s archives, rare books, historic photographs, and one of the largest historical manuscripts collections in the Pacific Northwest. Our mission is to acquire, preserve, and make available a clearly defined set of primary sources and rare books, reflecting the written, visual, and audio history and culture of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, and selected aspects of American and world history. Our diverse collections support all types of research, from K–12 education to international scholarship. We strive to play an active and creative role in the teaching, research, and service missions of the University.

Historical Collection Strengths

  • Oregon history, politics, culture
  • Authors and illustrators of children’s books
  • The conservative and libertarian movement in the last half of the twentieth century
  • Popular literature, with an emphasis on Western fiction
  • Missionaries to foreign countries, especially in the Far East
  • Labor History
  • Journalism and Communications
  • Photographs of the Northwest, including the Major Lee Moorhouse and Angelus Studio collections
  • Environmental history
  • Northwest literature, including fiction by Ken Kesey, Damon Knight, Kate Wilhelm, Ursula K. Le Guin, Molly Gloss, and William Stafford
  • Doris Ulmann photograph archives of Appalachia
  • Utopian and intentional communities
  • Northwest architecture
  • Northwest economic history

About Oregon Lesbian Land manuscript collections

In the late 1960s and 1970s the “Back to the Land Movement” led many Americans to escape urban life and return to a simpler life on the land, establishing communes and collectives throughout the United States. Oregon was beautiful and affordable, and county building codes were permissive. Thousands of people migrated to Oregon, including women who wanted to create separatist land where women could live together safely and respectfully, creating art and ritual that consciously rejected the trappings of a patriarchal society. The women viewed, and continue to view, the land as a safe haven away from male domination and violence. As with all intentional communities, the realities of shared space, shared finances and property, communal governance, and the hardships of a basic rural existence (often lacking electricity and running water) sometimes outweighed the joys of living together in intellectual idealism and creative freedom. Yet for many, the separatist life on the land remained fundamentally joyful, allowing for personal growth and a community among women.

The scope of these experiences is reflected in the collections listed below, captured in incoming and outgoing letters, daily diaries, journals of reflection, house diaries, meeting minutes, newsletters, flyers, financial documents, and photography.

Call number: Coll 722

Size: 1.5 linear feet (1 RSB)

Summary: Papers documenting the care and death of Judith Pauline (JP) Autio of Steppingwoods (lesbian land), miscellaneous newsletters, photographs, and art works by Autio and others


Call number: Coll 429

Size: 0.25 linear ft. (1 container) (30 CD-ROMs)

Summary: The Southern Oregon lesbian land communities oral history collection contains paper and digital transcripts, biographical forms, as well as digital video and audio recording of interviews conducted by Heather Burmeister.

Davis, Silver Lee Papers, 1986-1999

Call number: Coll 652

Size: .5 linear feet (1 container)

Summary: Silver Lee Davis was a member of the lesbian land community in southern Oregon. Collection primarily documents Davis' writing career.

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Curator of Manuscripts

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Linda Long
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1299
(541) 346-1906

Teaching with Primary Source Materials

Our collections exist to be used. When students work directly with primary source materials, historic photographs, and documents that are old or unique, they discover an excitement and passion not generated by textbooks.

Primary source documents can inspire, but they also teach about learning to verify sources, tracking down connections, finding evidence from content and from physical clues.