Skip to Main Content
University of Oregon
UO Libraries

Politics & Social Activism in Special Collections

This guide offers brief descriptions of relevant politics and social activism collections. Links are provided whenever online inventories exist.

Related Guides

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.

Journalism materials in SCUA Collections

Aldrich, Edwin Burton (1879-1950).
Correspondence, 1906-1934.
878 letters.
Author was editor and publisher of the East Oregonian, Pendleton, Ore. The file includes both letters received and sent dealing with Columbia River development, public affairs, and politics. Major correspondents are: Robert R. Butler, Henry L. Corbett, George E. Chamberlain, Marshall N. Dana, John E. Lathrop, William J. Kerr, Fred Lockley, William G. McAdoo, Charles L. McNary, John P. Rusk, Robert W. Sawyer, Nicholas J. Sinnot, Charles J. Smith, Frederick L. Steiwer, Donald Sterling, John W. Summers.
Ax 083

Drake, Lee D. (1882-1957).
Papers, 1890-1954.
5 ft., incl. 1,500 letters, 850 photographs.
A newspaperman and promoter in Astoria and Pendleton, Ore., Drake was associated as manager, owner, or editor with the Astorian Budget, the Pendleton East Oregonian, and the Twin Falls Idaho Times, and was one of the founders of the Northwestern Publishers' Syndicate. In December 1922 he was in Astoria during the great fire, and was active in immediate efforts for relief and rebuilding. From 1922 to 1928 he was director of the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce. The correspondence concerning his newspaper associations is unusually frank about business and editorial problems. Other organizations and enterprises represented in correspondence are: Castilloa Rubber Plantation Co.; Chlorine Products Corp. of America; Old Oregon Trails Association; Blue Mountain Baseball League; Pacific Northwest Tourist Association; Pendleton Roundup. In 1932 Drake was politically active on behalf of James Maloney and Julius Meier. The photographs are of the Pendleton Roundup and Indians from the Umatilla Reservation.
Ax 027, PH021

Dyar, Ralph E. (1884-1955).
Papers, 1907-1955
3 ft.
R. E. Dyar, newspaperman and playwright, was born in Dover, Minn., and educated at the University of Minnesota. He taught school for a year, and then worked for the Spokane, Wash., Spokesman-Review. He wrote plays, short stories, promotional pamphlets, and a history of the Spokesman-Review. The papers include manuscripts of plays, among them "A Voice in the Dark" in various versions, and published forms. There is the printer's copy of News for an Empire (Caldwell, Id., 1952) and fragments of a proposed juvenile, "Explorer's Dog." Correspondence consists of letters from agents and producers concerning A Voice in the Dark and other plays (1907-1955), and letters to and from Editor and Publisher magazine (1947-1955) for which Dyar was Spokane correspondent.
Ax 255

Hoyem, Oliver (1891-1965).
Papers, 1912-1953
5 ft.
Hoyem was born in Ishpeming, Mich., and educated at the Columbia University School of Journalism. As researcher and editor he was associated with the New York State Commission on Prison Administration and Construction (1931) and with the National Committee on Prisons (1920-1948). From 1934 to 1947 he was editor of Chester Wright's Labor Letter, and produced digests of the proceedings of American Federation of Labor conventions, 1935-1947, and Congress of Industrial Organization conventions, 1940-1947. He was labor adviser to the governments of Thailand and Turkey for the Economic Cooperation Administration from 1951-1962. Papers include class notes of Columbia University, notably for classes with Edwin Seligman (economics), Walter Pitkin (philosophy), James T. Shotwell (history), E. Stagg Whitin (sociology). There are reports and correspondence concerning the New York Commission on Prison Administration and Construction and the National Committee on Prisons. Major correspondence is with E. Stagg Whitin. Files on Chester M. Wright and Associates, Inc. include copies of Chester Wright's Labor Letter (1934-1947), and digests of AFL and CIO convention proceedings.
Coll. 046, PH052

Lampman, Ben Hur (1886-1954).
Papers, 1912-1954
6 ft.
Author was born in Barron, Wis., and educated in high school at Neche, N.D. He was a compositor, printer, and editor in Nelson County, N.D., and then editor and publisher of the Gold Hill News, Gold Hill, Ore., 1912-1916. From 1916 he was an editorial writer for the Portland Oregonian, an expert in the urban-rustic genre. He was designated poet laureate of Oregon in 1951. He wrote stories and essays for a variety of periodicals. The papers include manuscripts of three books, including his major work, The Corning of the Pond Fishes (Portland, Ore., 1945), manuscripts of editorials, essays, stories, paragraphs, and poems, correspondence with magazine editors, notably William L. Finley, and five speeches. Printed material consists of pamphlets, reprints of editorials, broadsides, and offprints, among them the pamphlet, Centralia, Tragedy and Trial (Tacoma, Wash., 1920). The bulk of the papers is an assemblage of scrapbooks that include clippings, letters, photographs, mementos, manuscripts, and printed pieces.
Ax 426

Littell, Robert (1896-1963).
Papers, 1901-1963
8 ft., incl. 1,768 letters.
Author was born in Milwaukee, Wis., and educated at Harvard University. From 1922 to 1927 he was associate editor of the New Republic, and from 1927 to 1931 drama critic for New York newspapers. From 1942 to 1961 he was associate, then senior editor of Reader's Digest. The papers include letters of Robert Littell to his father, Philip Littell, and other family members, from Groton, Harvard, with the Ambulance Corps, with the American Shipping Mission, with the American Commission to Negotiate Peace, with the American Relief Administration, with the Interchurch World Movement investigation of the steel strike in Pittsburgh, as associate editor of New Republic, and as associate and senior editor of Reader's Digest in Europe. There is also a series of letters from Anita (Damrosch) Littell, 1949-1963, to the Littell and Damrosch families, from Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, and elsewhere in Europe. Among the manuscripts are four typed versions of the play, "Gather Ye Rosebuds," written by Robert Littell and Sidney Howard. There are manuscripts of the author's Reader's Digest articles, with editorial correspondence, and scrapbooks of his articles for New Republic, New York Evening Post, New York Herald Tribune, and various magazines.
Ax 400

McComas, Evans Smith (1839-1911).
Diary and scrapbooks, 1862-1911
1 ft.
E. S. McComas was born in Ohio. In 1860 he was living in Johnson County, Iowa, teaching school. He came overland to eastern Oregon in 1862 to the mines near Auburn. He tried other means of making a living, but was most successful as a newspaper editor, and owned, edited, or contributed to a series of papers in eastern Oregon. He also promoted mines, patent medicines, and real estate. The McComas diary is from 1862 to 1867, and includes his account of his overland trip. Songs, speeches, and ballads are transcribed on the final pages. Four scrapbooks contain items written by McComas or of interest to him. A few of the pieces are by or about William Henry McComas, his brother, who came to Oregon in 1872 and was also in the newspaper business. The McComas diary was published in 1954 by the Champoeg Press, Portland, Ore., under the title A Journal of Travel.
Ax 181

Millard, Bailey (1859-1941).
Papers, 1893-1939
1.5 ft.
Bailey Millard was born in Markesan, Wis. Much of his education was obtained as a printer's devil and tramp printer. He worked his way west through a succession of newspaper and printing shops. In the 1890s he was city editor or literary editor of the San Francisco Call and the Examiner, and in 1918-1919 was managing editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. From 1913­-1914 he was in New York, managing editor of Munsey's. In San Francisco he was acquainted with and published a succession of new writers, among them Jack London and Edwin Markham. He first published Joaquin Miller's best-known poem, Columbus. The papers include a manuscript autobiography, "Myself When Young," and an unpublished biography of Edwin Markham. Correspondence includes 49 letters from Markham, 6 from Ambrose Bierce, 10 from John Muir, and 7 from Hamlin Garland. There are also letters from Jack London, Joaquin Miller, and John Burroughs, and a postal card from George Bernard Shaw. There are photographs of Jack London, Edwin Markham, Frank Norris, David Graham Phillips, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Ax 431, PH104

Misselwitz, Henry Francis (1900-?).
Papers, 1927-1946
1.5 ft.
Author was born in Leavenworth, Kan., and educated at the University of Missouri. His career in journalism began with the Kansas City Star in 1917. He spent much time in the Far East as correspondent for United Press and the New York Times, and on the staff of the Japan Advertiser, 1924-1927. After 1938 he was a free-lance writer and radio commentator. Papers include manuscripts of 3 books, of radio scripts broadcast over station KMPC, Beverly Hills, and of a newspaper column, "From Where I Sit." There is a minor journal of travels in China in 1927 as correspondent for the New York Times.
Ax 357

Redington, John W. (1851-1935).
Papers, 1880-1935
2 ft., incl. 800 letters.
John "Watermelon" Redington was born in Cambridge, Mass., attended grammar school, and worked as printer's devil. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1874 as a means of getting to the West. He was discharged in 1874, worked for the Salem Oregon Statesman, and founded a job printing establishment in Salem. He left job printing to wander through Oregon, Idaho, and Utah as a tramp printer and in search of adventure. In the process he served as a scout in the Nez Perce Indian War and the Bannock Indian War. His small stature and juvenile enthusiasm led Gen. Oliver O. Howard to refer to him as the "original boy scout." Redington took over the Heppner, Ore. Gazette in 1883, and later published papers in Puyallup and Tacoma, Wash. He was a native humorist, invented tall stories to fill his columns, and issued outrageous political broadsides in a style reminiscent of Bill Nye. He was married to Nellie Meacham, daughter of Alfred B. Meacham. His last years were spent as a wandering journalist, and in and out of the Veterans' Home at Sawtelle, Calif. The papers include manuscripts and clippings, scrapbooks, and correspondence with his family and with writers of western articles and stories. A collection of Redington papers is also in the University of Washington Library. A thesis by Brant E. Ducey, "John Watermelon Redington--Hell on Hogthieves and Hypocrites" (M.A., Journalism, University of Oregon, 1963), is based on the Redington papers.
Ax 093, PH221

Sawyer, Robert William (1880-1959).
Papers, 1913-1953
26 ft., incl. about 22,000 letters.
Author was a publisher, editor, and public servant. He was born in Bangor, Maine, and educated at Harvard University. From 1914 to 1953 he was publisher and editor of the Bend Bulletin, Bend, Ore. He was county judge of Deschutes County, member of the Oregon State Highway Commission, the State Capitol Reconstruction Commission, and the Hoover Commission Task Force on Water Resources and Power. The files are particularly informative concerning state and national politics, reclamation, public power, forestry, and the highway billboard controversy. They include correspondence, documents, and published material. Major correspondence files, with letters received and sent, are: Edson Abel, Sherman Adams, Eric Allen, Leonard Andrus, Hugh Baillie, R. H. Baldock, L. Ward Bannister, Sam Boardman, George H. Brewster, Ralph Cake, J. K. Cheadle, Forrest E. Cooper, Marshall Dana, Bernard DeVoto, Thomas E. Dewey, Harris Ellsworth, Jess Gard, Thurlow Gordon, F. O. Hagie, John Haw, Jessie Honeyman, Robert V. Lucas, Don McBride, Douglas McKay, E. B. McNaughton, Charles L. McNary, Raymond Matthew, Elwood Mead, Kenneth Miller, Raymond Moley, Wayne L. Morse, Dan Noble, Ben W. Olcott, Paul Patterson, Walter Pierce, Harry Polk, W. L. Powers, E. W. Rising, Harold B. Say, Nicholas J. Sinnott, Allen Smith, Earl Snell, Charles A. Sprague, Frederick Steiwer, Lowell Stockman, Clifford H. Stone, Robert E. Strahorn, Charles E. Stricklin, William M. Tugman, Howard Turner, Lew Wallace, Paul B. Wallace.
Ax 100

Thompson, Herbert Cooper (1875-1960).
Papers, 1864-1960
4 ft., incl. about 950 letters, 55 volumes of diaries.
Author was born in Eugene, Ore., and attended Stanford University, 1893-1897. In 1898 he joined Co. C, Oregon Volunteers, and served in the Philippines. From 1900 to 1910 he worked in San Francisco as a newspaper reporter. From 1912 to 1920 he was correspondent for the Associated Press, assigned to England and France during World War I, and to the Mexican Revolution, 1916-1918. From 1924 to 1940 he was employed as a writer and observer by the American Red Cross, and traveled for the Red Cross in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Europe.
The H. C. Thompson diaries are irregular but detailed, being intended, usually, as source material for newspaper accounts or magazine articles.

Ax 067, PH043

Tolischus, Otto David (1890-1967).
Papers, 1927-1966
3 ft.
Author was born in Lithuania and came to the United States in 1907. He was graduated from the Columbia University School of journalism in 1916. During most of his career he was foreign correspondent or expert on foreign affairs for International News Service and the New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence in 1939. From 1942 to 1964 he was a member of the New York Times editorial board. The papers include manuscripts of articles written for the New York Times and International News Service, editorials, lectures, and a few radio scripts. There are six volumes of clippings of his editorials and articles, 1942-1965. Correspondence is from readers and from other journalists. Major correspondents are Frank S. Booth, Barry Farris, Frank Mason, Arthur H. Sulzberger.
Ax 368

Wells, William Bittle (1872-1965).
Papers, 1890-1960
9 ft., incl. about 2,000 letters.
William Bittle Wells worked in the Pacific Northwest as a manager, editor, advertiser, and writer for a variety of publications. In 1898 Wells founded the western magazine Pacific Monthly, which focused on the development of the pacific coast, literature, and humor. Wells became northwest editor and manager for Sunset Magazine from 1907-1912. Wells then became advertiser for Community Publicity, a publication produced by the Harriman Lines railroad. Next, Wells managed his own printing company, Wells and Company, from 1912 to 1915. For two years, Wells served as editor of Better Cooking, a publication to publicize cities across the nation. In 1917, Wells signed a contract with New York Life Insurance Company where he worked as an insurance agent for the next forty years. After he retired, he focused on writing extensively on Christian religious topics. The collection consists of biographical material, correspondence, high school scrapbooks, class papers from Wells' attendance at Stanford University, business files documenting his various career endeavors, and personal papers and mementos, including manuscripts and photographs.
Ax 095

Ask An Archivist | SCUA

Chat Email Phone TextVisit

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