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Oregon Trail in Special Collections

This guide offers brief descriptions of relevant Oregon Trail resources collections. Links are provided whenever online inventories exist.

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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.

Pioneer Women | SCUA Collections Documenting Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Special Collections and University Archives collects in the topical area Northwest History and Culture, including materials in all formats that describe or reflect Northwest history and culture.

Adair, Mary Ann Dickinson.

In Adair Family Papers. 1848-1852. 1 folder.
The Adair Family was an Oregon pioneer family, living in Astoria, Oregon from 1848 to 1860. The collection contains reminiscences by John Adair and his wife, Mary Ann (Dickinson) Adair, concerning life in Kentucky and Oregon and copies of letters written while en route from Kentucky to Astoria by sea in 1848, and from Astoria in 1849-1952.
(CB Ad11)

Aitken Family.

Papers. 1874-1969. 7 ft.
This collection includes diaries and letters of Carrie Aitken from California and the Arizona Territory mining camps form 1874 to 1884. It also includes letters and diaries of her daughters, Frances and Geraldine.
(Ax 754)

Ashmore Family.

In the William Ashmore Papers. 1850-1952. 7.5 ft.
The Ashmore Family papers comprise: Martha Sanderson Ashmore\'s sea journal, 1850-1851; Lida Scott Ashmore\'s letters, diaries, and papers, 1877-1928; and Edith Ashmore\'s diaries, 1895-1907. See also Edith Ashmore Hensolt Papers.
(Ax 564)

Baker, Della M.

Reminiscences. 1938. 39 pp.
These reminiscences of Della Baker are an account of a trip from Portland, Oregon, to Dawson in the Yukon Territory. They are written partly in verse.
(CB B172)

Bannard, Margaret.

Letters Received. 1903-1904. 1 folder.
These reminiscent letters, which were received by Margaret Bannard, describe the social life of Oregon pioneers. They include letters from George H. Himes, J.W. Miller, and Mrs. J.A. Newell.
(CB B226)

Burton Family.

Papers. 1872-1925. 0.25 cubic ft.
The collection includes letters, genealogical notations, photographs, and memorabilia of this Oregon pioneer family.
(Coll. 112)

Calbreath Family.

Papers. 1843-1930. 3 ft.
Irene Smith, daughter of Oregon pioneer Sidney Smith, was married to physician John Calbreath superintendent of the Oregon State Insane Asylum. The collection contains letters by members of the Smith and Calbreath families from 1864 to 1939; the diaries of Irene Smith and Evelyn Calbreath and manuscripts of prose and poetry by Irene Smith Calbreath.
(Ax 193)

Carter, Mary.

In William Alexander Carter papers. 1850-1912. 1 ft.
Mary Carter operated her husband's trading post at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, after his death in 1881. The papers include personal correspondence and invoices, receipts, contracts, and checks from the trading post.
(Ax 110)

Combs, Amelia R.

Report. 1906. 4 pages.
In this report Lane County, Oregon, pioneers answer questions about the location of Eugene Skinner\'s cabin, the history of Columbia College, and the first Eugene court. It was published in Eugene on July 8, 1906 and is addressed to "The President and Native Daughters."
(CA 1906 July 8)

Cooper, Arvazena Angeline Spillman. (1845-1929).

Reminiscences. 1901. 31 pages.
Arvazena Cooper and her husband, Daniel Jackson Cooper, were settlers at The Dalles, Oregon. The Reminiscences recall their journey from Missouri to Oregon in 1863.
(CB C784)

Crocker, Mollie Truax (b. 1862).

Reminiscences of the pioneer life of Mollie Truax Crocker. n.d. 6 pages, typewritten.
Mollie Truax Crocker was born in Oregon City, Oregon. Her father was a soldier who became a post trader at Fort Walla Walla and the Lapwai Indian Agency. The reminiscences include much about the Nez Perce Indian War.
(CB C 872)

D'Arcy, Marianne Hunsaker (b. 1842).

Reminiscences. 1846-1870. 168 pages.
Marianne D\'Arcy\'s reminiscences describe her early life in Illinois, family history, her overland journey to Oregon in 1846, housing, food, drink, and medicines, Oregon City in the 1840s and 1850s, social life, courting customs, the building of the first bridge over the Clackamas River in 1852, the founding of McMinnville College (Linfield College), and schools in early Oregon. The collection includes the original manuscript by Hunsaker and a copy edited by Daisy Sanford.
(CB D 244)

Eakin, Jane.

Diary. 1866. 9 pages.
Jane Eakin was a pioneer whose diary describes a trip across the plains from Illinois to Eugene, Oregon in 1866.
(A 030)

Evans, Mrs. S.D.

Reminiscences. n.d. 7 pages.
Mrs. Evans was a pioneer whose husband was killed by Native Americans in 1861. With her two children she traveled in a wagon from Nevada to a farm in Douglas County. The reminiscences are an account of that trip in 1863.
(CB Ev 16)

Goltra, Elizabeth Julia.

Journal. 1853. 21 pp.
Elizabeth Julia Goltra was a pioneer. Her journal describes her journey from Missouri to Oregon.
(A 034)

Gordon, Wyona Eliza Surfus.

Reminiscences. 1963. 103 pp.
Wyona Gordon's reminiscences describe her memories of an 1883 wagon trip from Topeka, Kansas to Oregon City, Oregon.
(CB G659)

Gragg Family.

Papers. 1859-1930. 1 ft.
The Joseph Gragg Family came overland to Oregon from Illinois in 1852. The collection contains major series of correspondence by Gragg\'s sister and his daughter.
(Ax 139)

Hill Family.

Papers. 1850-1938. 3 ft.
The Hill family were pioneers who lived in Independence, Oregon. The correspondence reflects the settlement and growth of the pioneer family of Henry Hill (1847-1905) in Independence. Letters of Stanford University student Nelle May Hill (1868-1900) are also included.
(Ax 047)

McArthur, Harriet Nesmith (1851-1936).

Diary. 1885-1887. 1 volume
The diary by Harriet Nesmith McArthur contains descriptions of family and farm matters in Marion County, Oregon.
(A 073)

Moses, Mathilde R (b. 1887).

Letters. 1916-1949. 141 letters.
Mathilde R. Moses was a missionary teacher in India from 1916 to the 1930s. The letters, most descriptive form 1916 to 1923 and for 1935, discuss life in India and internal mission affairs.
(Ax 490)

Parker, Inez Eugenia (Adams) (1845-1933)

Reminiscences. n.d. 49 pages.
Inez Eugenia Parker was a pioneer who crossed the plains in 1848 and spent her childhood in Yamhill County, Oregon. See also Adams Family.
(CB P225)

Rudd, Lydia A.

Diary. 1852. 31 pages.
Lydia Rudd was a pioneer. The diary is an account of an overland trip from Missouri to Oregon from may 6 to October 27, 1852.
(A 107)

Springer, Viola.

Diary. 1885-1886. 1 volume.
Viola Springer was an Oregon pioneer whose diary describes her trip from Missouri to Oregon, May 1885 to February, 1886.
(A 116)

Stevens, Margaret Hazard.

In Hazard Stevens Papers. 1676-1918. 14 ft.
The Hazard Stevens Papers include reminiscences by Margaret Stevens, the wife of the first governor of Washington Territory, Isaac Stevens; correspondence, 1838 to 1867; and papers about the family\'s fight for a pension from the War Department after Governor Stevens\'s death.
(Ax 042)

Stoughton, A. Ella (1857-1944).

Diaries. 1881-1886. 3 volumes.
Ella A. Stoughton was the daughter of a Washington pioneer and a world traveler. The last entries in the diaries describe her position as the Washington Territorial Legislature\'s House enrolling clerk and her courtship with Doran H. Stearns, founder of the Portland Bee.
(A 119)

Sutton, Sarah.

Scrapbook. 1854. 1 volume.
The scrapbook contains Sarah Sutton\'s narrative of crossing the plains that was published in an unidentified newspaper.
(CA Su 87)

Woolverton Family.

Papers. 1864-1941. 5 items.
The Woolverton Family papers include a typed copy of an 1864 journal of the overland trip from Iowa to Oregon taken by Mrs. W.A. Loughary.
(A 149)

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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