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Oregon Food * Farming History

Archival and Manuscript Collections Related to Home Gardening

 Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection, 1992

The Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection consists of interviews conducted in 1992 by Oregon State University students of five individuals familiar with farm labor in Oregon during World War II. Specifically: Lena Burien describes home and farm life during the Great Depression and war years,gardening, canning, and growing crops for the local canneries; and her own children and grandchildren.

Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues Collection, 1832-1999

The Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues represent a comprehensive resource for researchers interested in the history of agricultural nurseries. The collection consists primarily of flower and seed catalogues, most of which were printed in Great Britain, Holland and the US between the years 1832-1950. The materials provide a historical record of prices, seed sources, and descriptions of plants and seeds offered for sale by nurserymen and growers over time.

*Related to the Nursery and Seed Trade Catalogues Collection is the Short History of The Seed & Nursery Catalogue in Europe and the U.S. 

4-H Photograph Collection, 1913-2005

The 4-H Photograph Collection documents Oregon 4-H programs, projects, and participants in agriculture, home economics, natural science, and recreational activities. The 4-H youth program is administered through the Oregon State University Extension Service and was established in the early 1910s. Of note are several victory garden winners, school gardens, and various other gardens around Oregon. 

Oregon State University Memorabilia Collection, ca. 1860-present

The Memorabilia Collection is an artificial collection containing items of interest about Oregon State University and to a lesser extent, the city of Corvallis, and the state of Oregon. The Memorabilia Collection includes information about Oregon State University buildings and campus development; academic departments and programs; research, extension, and outreach; faculty, staff, and alumni; student organizations; intercollegiate and intramural athletics; and other campus events, activities, and issues.

Of note in this collection:

  • Series 1: Memorabilia Collection
    • Box-Folder 106.3: Men's Garden Club of Corvallis, 1940

Facilities Services Records, 1888-2010

The Facilities Services Records document the physical campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis as well as OSU facilities throughout the state of Oregon beginning with construction of the first building on the current campus in 1888. The records consist predominantly of architectural drawings and files for the design, construction, and modification to structures.

Of note in this collection:

  • Series III: Building Specifications and Reports, 1909-2003
    • Box 88: Plans of Formal Gardens, Pre-1940

KOAC Records, 1923-2000

The KOAC Records document the establishment and functioning of the KOAC public radio and television stations at Oregon Agricultural College (Oregon State University). Most of the records pertain to KOAC radio, although a few series contain records of KOAC-TV. 

Several things of note in this collection are:

  • Series II: Dean Powers Files, 1932-1959
    • Reel 3 - Folder 46: Garden Clubs Home Garden Hour
  • Series VI: Radio Program Series, 1926-1962
    • Reel 14 - Folder 111: Vegetable Gardening
    • Reel 1: Radio Study Clubs (PTA, Home Garden, AAUW), 1940-1943

Extension Service Records, 1903-2011

The Extension Service Records pertain to the administration and programmatic activities of the Oregon State University Extension Service. The records document policies and procedures, research activities, special events, and services provided to Oregonians at the state and county levels.This collection contains several records regarding home gardening.

Several things of note in this collection are:

  • Subgroup 2. Series X: Projects, Extension Specialists, 1914-1988
    • Box 69: 
      • Home gardening & Victory Gardens, 1942-1945 (2 folders)
      • Home gardening, 1945-1949 & 1975-1976 (2 folders) 
      • Subsistence gardens, 1933-1935
    • Box 72: 
      • Food preservation project (Claribel Nye), 1933-1935
      • Pesticide safety
        • General, 1963-1978

Extension Service Photographs, 1900-2007

The Extension Service Photographs document Extension programs, activities, and staff throughout Oregon as well as Oregon agriculture. The bulk of the collection pertains to the three traditional Extension programmatic areas -- agriculture, home economics, and 4-HThe photographs depict Extension Service programs and staff from all regions of Oregon; however, Benton, Clatsop, Klamath, and Lane Counties are strongly represented.

Some collections of note are:

  • Series 2: Photographs from Clatsop and Klamath County Annual Reports, 1923-1955
    • Sub-Series 10: Clatsop County, 1932
    • Sub-Series 13: Clatsop County, 1935
      • Has an image of an award-winning 4-H home garden.
    • Sub-Series 20: Clatsop County, 1942
      • Has an image of a victory garden.
    • Sub-Series 28: Klamath County, 1942
    • Sub-Series 31: Klamath County, 1945
      • Has several images of victory gardens and supplies.

Landscape Architecture Department Records, 1932-1982

The Landscape Architecture Department Records document curriculum and instruction in landscape architecture at Oregon State University, department administration, extension activities, campus planning, and faculty research and publications. An academic program in landscape architecture was established at Oregon Agricultural College in 1911 and remained active until 1982.

Several things of note in this collection are:

  • Reel 1 D-2: Garden Clubs, etc., 1938
  • Reel 2 M-5: Men's Garden Club, 1940-1942

World War I Poster Collection, 1917-1919

The World War I Poster Collection is comprised of propaganda posters generated by the United States Food Administration, the United States Treasury Department, the American Red Cross, the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), and other charitable organizations in support of the United States and its allies in World War I. Of note, the collection contains numerous posters related to food austerity, U.S. war bond and stamp sales, and the United War Work Campaign of 1918.

Things of note in this collection are:

  • Series 3: Charitable Organizations, 1918
    • Series III is comprised of propaganda posters from assorted assistance organizations including the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, the American Library Association, the American Red Cross, Fatherless Children of France, Inc., the National Emergency Food Garden Commission, and the Federal Board for Vocational Education. 

World War II Poster Collection, 1941-1945

The World War II Poster Collection is comprised of propaganda posters generated by United States government agencies, civilian service organizations, and foreign agencies between 1941 and 1945. The collection contains numerous posters addressing U.S. war production, war bond and stamp sales, military recruiting, civil defense, civilian wartime responsibilities, and pro-U.S. propaganda.

Things of note from this collection are: 

  • Series 1: Office of War Information Posters, 1942-1943
    • This series is comprised of posters created by the United States Office of War Information between 1942 and 1943.  OWI posters in this series address austerity measures, enemy espionage, women in the labor force, and wartime health and nutrition.
    • Box-Item 2.4
      • A poster regarding victory gardens, 1943
  • Series 4: Civilian Experience, 1941-1945
    • Series IV is comprised of posters promoting civilian participation in the American war effort. Posters in this series also address forest fire prevention, espionage, price control and counter-inflation efforts, nutrition and food austerity, nonessential travel, proper shipping practices, and household maintenance.
    • Box-Item 9.11
      • A poster regarding war gardens, circa 1942

Home Gardening in the Rare Book Collections

The rare book collections contain a wealth of materials on home gardening. Early modern gardening and cultivation in the 16th and 17th centuries is a particular strength of the collections; these guides for wives and farmers often contain calendars for planting, sowing, and other home gardening activities, advice on the proper layout of kitchen gardens, tips on various uses of things grown in the garden, and advice on how to deal with pests and weather. The rare book collections also contain books on home gardens in the 18th-20th centuries, including upkeep of American farm gardens, and victory gardens and home food supplies during WWI and WWII.


To identify items with gardening content, search for terms such as:

Home Gardening in the Main Collection

The Main Collection here at Oregon State University has a multitude of resources and information regarding home gardening. The important thing to remember are the terms that you're using to be able to refine to what you're looking for. Not only was home gardening popular during the early 20th century, it's continued to be a phenomenon, especially with becoming eco-friendly a large incentive for many. 

Here are some key terms that can be used: 

Home Gardening in ScholarsArchive@OSU

ScholarsArchive@OSU is Oregon State University's digital service for gathering, indexing, making available and storing the scholarly work of the Oregon State University community. It also includes materials from outside the institution in support of the university's land, sun, sea and space grant missions and other research interests. 

Prominent in ScholarsArchive are digitized files from Extension Service, which has several things relating to gardening topics from various decades. 

Some search terms to use:

*You can access many of these files via 1Search and indicate "At OSU libraries only" before searching.