Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Oregon Food and Farming History

Farming and Agriculture in Archival and Manuscript Collections

Agricultural Research Foundation Records, 1936-2007 

The Agricultural Research Foundation Records consist of annual and biennial reports documenting the financial status and research funded by the Foundation. The Agricultural Research Foundation was founded in 1934 to encourage and facilitate agricultural research by scientists associated with Oregon State University. The collection is available for research.

Experiment Station Publications Photographic Collection, 1949-1979

The Experiment Station Publications Photographic Collection document Agricultural Experiment Station research in Corvallis and at Branch Stations throughout Oregon. Subjects include Station personnel; Branch station and campus buildings and research facilities; and research projects in agricultural chemistry, agricultural engineering, animal sciences, dairy husbandry, entomology, crop and soil science, fisheries and wildlife, food technology, horticulture, irrigation, microbiology, nutrition, poultry science, and vegetable crops. Of note in the collection are images of various farms and general farm labor. 

Agricultural and Resource Economics Department Records, 1909-2008

The Agricultural and Resource Economics Department Records document research, teaching, and extension activities in agricultural economics and farm management at Oregon State University and provide extensive documentation of the economics of Oregon agriculture. The records include administrative materials, speeches and presentations, reports and original data for studies conducted by department faculty, records of the Western Rural Development Center, and extensive economic and statistical data on agriculture in Oregon assembled by the Oregon Agricultural Information Network (OAIN).

  • IV. Field Reports and Surveys, 1931-1959 [identified as Series 2 on microfilm]
    • includes Reels 3-24, Boxes 32-34, and Map Folder

Agricultural and Resource Economics Department Photographs, 1925-1979

The Agricultural and Resource Economics Department Photographs consist of images taken by Oregon State College County Agents, Farm Management Department faculty and staff, and Agricultural Economics Department faculty. The photographs depict agriculture in Oregon, including livestock, equipment, and crop fields. Additional images document damage caused by the 1945/1946 Willamette River flood, pasture scenes, operations of the Duckwall Fruit Processing Plant, and fruit harvesting and processing in Wenatchee Valley, Washington.

College of Agricultural Sciences Records, 1895-1999

The College of Agricultural Sciences records document teaching, research (through the Agricultural Experiment Station), and extension programs in agriculture at Oregon State University. The records consist predominantly of the materials generated or assembled by the Dean's Office and reflect the relationships between the College and federal and state agencies and the significant role of the College in Oregon agriculture.

Of note in this collection:

  • Series IV: Departments, 1895-1999
    • Reel 8:
      • Animal Husbandry (now Animal Science): History and Records, 1912-1954
    • Reel 9:
      • Farm Crops (now Farm Science): History and Records, 1908-1972
      • Farm Service, 1949

College of Agricultural Sciences Photographs, 1892-2001

The College of Agricultural Sciences Photographs were taken or assembled by College staff and faculty to document the Oregon State University's academic and research programs in agriculture; Branch Experiment Stations in Oregon; faculty, students, and alumni; international programs; and special events, conferences, and workshops. The bulk of the images are b/w prints and color slides; the collection also includes nitrate and glass negatives; some film negatives; and a few color prints.

Agricultural Experiment Station Records, 1889-2002

The Agricultural Experiment Station Records document agricultural research in Oregon from the founding of the Experiment Station in 1880s. Research activities were conducted on the Oregon State University campus and at branch stations throughout Oregon. The collection is available for research, however there is not a collection list on SCARC at this time.

Of note in this collection:

  • Subgroup 1
    • VI. Annual & Biennial Reports, 1889-1967
      • Box (8/1/3/10): Farm Management, 1938/40, 1940/42, 1944/46
    • VIII. Policies & Procedures, 1930-1985
      • Box (8/1/3/20): Farm Equipment Pool, 1976-1985
  • Subgroup 2
    • II. John Jacob Astor, 1913-1975
      • Reel 23: Farm Work Plan, Cut Over Land, 1938
  • Subgroup 3
    • Series V. Cooperative Agreements
      • Box (8/3/5/20): 
        • Farm Crops Department
        • Farm Management Department
    • Series V. Adams, Purnell, and Bankhead-Jones Acts Funded Projects
      • Box (8/3/5/60): Farm Management Department

Corvallis-Albany Farmers' Markets Records, 1991-2012

The Corvallis-Albany Farmers' Markets Records document the establishment, organization, and promotion of seasonal markets for farm-direct products in Corvallis and Albany, Oregon. The non-profit organization, Corvallis-Albany Farmers' Markets, was established in 1998 through the merger of the Corvallis Wednesday and Saturday markets with the Albany Saturday market. Promotional materials include posters, flyers, bookmarks, and brochures. The Records also include vendor handbooks and applications, the Market Line newsletter, grower information sheets, clippings, annual reports, and related materials. 

Crop Science Department Records, 1925-2013

The Crop Science Department Records consist of reports, an inventory log, legal documents relating to lawsuits filed against the Oregon Foundation Seed Program, newsletters, sound recordings, videotapes, photographic slides and correspondence.

Of note in this collection:

  • 1964-1965 & 1965-1966 Accession 77:19
    • 54. Farm Equipment and Supplies, 1964-1966
    • 169. Farm Seed Industry Conference, 1965-1966
    • 186. Oregon’s Farm and Mkt. Outlook, 1965-1966

Phil Decker Oregon Crop Festival Photographs Collection, 2010-2014

The Decker Photograph Collection consists primarily of born digital images taken by Decker, a Salem-based photographer, of various crop festivals held all around Oregon. The collection is open for research, however permission to publish must be granted by Phil Decker or his heirs.

Extension and Experiment Station Communications Records, 1934-2009

The Extension and Experiment Station Communications Records document preparation of publications, news releases, radio programs, and public service announcements by Oregon State University Extension programs in agriculture, home economics, marine resources, and 4-H. In addition, the records document the communication of the results of OSU Agricultural Experiment Station research to the public and other researchers. The records include sound recordings, publication records, and biographical files for Extension agents and specialists.

Of note in the collection:

  • Series II.  Public Service Announcements, 1968-1987 & undated
    • Box 11: Farm Safety Spots, narrative for public service announcements, audiotape, 1968

Oregon State University Extension Association/4-H Records, 1977-1996

The Oregon State University Extension Association/4-H Records document the members, programs, and activities of the professional association of 4-H extension agents in Oregon. The organization was established in 1975 and is affiliated with the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA) and the Oregon State University Extension Association. 

Extension Service Photographs, 1900-2007

The Extension Service Photographs document Extension programs, activities, and staff throughout Oregon as well as Oregon agriculture. The Extension Service was established in Oregon in 1911. The bulk of the collection pertains to the three traditional Extension programmatic areas -- agriculture, home economics, and 4-H. The photographs depict Extension Service programs and staff from all regions of Oregon; however, Benton, Clatsop, Klamath, and Lane Counties are strongly represented. 

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. They also document the service's relationship with the federal government and extension services in other states.

Of note in this collection:

  • Subgroup I. Reports, 1911-1998
    • Series I: Extension Specialists' Reports, 1911-1973
      • Box 5-6: Agricultural Economics, 1937-1958
        • Farm and Market Outlook
      • Box 17: Farm Crops, 1915-1933
      • Box 18: Farm Crops, 1932-1942
      • Box 19: Farm Crops, 1947-1956
      • Box 24: Farm Labor, 1943-1947
      • Box 25: Farm Management, 1911-1964
    • Series III. Special Reports, 1912-1965 
      • 176, 14: Radio, National Farm Labor Broadcast

Farm Crops Department Photographs, 1919-1960

The Farm Crops Department Photographs illustrate research activities on crops, such as grasses, and the use of agricultural machinery. The images primarily depict plants such as barnyard grass seedlings, phorium, and fescue undergoing experimentation and land under cultivation by both horse drawn and mechanical farm equipment at the Oregon Experiment Station. 

Farmer (publication) Photographs, 1911-1920

The Farmer Photographs include many images of livestock - especially cows, rabbits and pigs - as well as barns, silos, farmsteads, agricultural machinery, produce and crops. The collection also includes documentation of rural life in the Pacific Northwest of the early twentieth century, and includes images of children and adults at work and play. Most of the images contain textual annotations on their reverse and a few have been annotated on the obverse for cropping and other editing prior to publication.

Hanson Leghorn Farm Records, 1917-1967

The Hanson Leghorn Farm Records contain materials documenting the Hanson Leghorn Farm, a nationally significant poultry breeding business located in Corvallis, Oregon. The records include correspondence, breeding and production records, financial records, incubation and banding reports, advertisements and other promotional literature, honors and awards, poultry industry trade magazines, and photographs and artwork. 

Ben L. Robinson Farm Journals, 1929-2000

The Ben L. Robinson Farm Journals consist of account journals for farms and ranches operated by Ben L. Robinson and his father, Carl Robinson, in Union County, Oregon. Ben L. Robinson served on various county and state-wide agricultural organizations and received a Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Career Achievement Award from Oregon State University in 1988. 

Western Farmer (publication) Photographs, 1915-1922

The Western Farmer Photographs contain images captured and edited for use in the publications Western Farmer and Farmer's Tribune during the early decades of the twentieth century. The photographs include documentation of livestock in the field and for show; children at play; produce being grown and displayed; farm equipment; and men and women engaged in various forms of agricultural labor. Along with textual annotations on their reverse, many of the collection's photos have been marked on the obverse by copy editors with the intent of cropping, shading and/or enlarging an image prior to placement for print in the magazine.

Francis T. Howard Diary, 1858-1946

The Francis T. Howard Diary is comprised of journal entries written by Oregon pioneer Francis T. Howard recording his life as a farmer and mill operator outside Mulino, Oregon between January 1858 and June 1859. Also included are newspaper clippings and other ephemera documenting the Howard family between 1863 and 1946. The collection is available for research.

Lawrence A. Burt Papers, 1974-2009

The Lawrence A. Burt Papers document the teaching, extension, and publishing activities of Burt during his 30 years as a faculty member in Agricultural and Resource Economics and Extension Economist at Oregon State University from 1979 to 2009. Burt's work focused on agribusiness management, marketing of agricultural products, farm management and agricultural finance as well as the management and dissemination of economic data pertaining to agricultural crops and products. 

H. D. Scudder Collection, 1909-1923

The H. D. Scudder Collection consists of correspondence (primarily on postcards) between Scudder, an OAC professor of Farm Management, and Oregon farmers regarding various crops and farming questions. Along with correspondence with farmers, the collection also includes correspondence with others, publications and memorabilia. 

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. 

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.

Farming and Agriculture in the Rare Book Collections

The rare book collections in Special Collections and Archives Research Center have a wealth of material related to the history of farming and agriculture; indeed, this is one of our strongest collecting areas, made up of many sub-collections related to the history of farming crops, soil quality, and planning for farms. Materials span five centuries, and are primarily related to farming in America and England. To find these materials, search for the following keywords:

Farming and Agriculture in the Main Collection

Searching the Main Collection of the library is extremely beneficial for sources. Though the terms and searches may not be obvious in the beginning, the deeper you dig, the better the finds! It's also important to note that there is a plethora of sources in the Special Collections and Archives regarding Farming and Agriculture at OSU, and there's a potential for the sources you do find in 1Search may actually be from Special Collections and Archives. However, this shouldn't deter you! If you're unsure, don't be afraid to ask a librarian for research tips.

Some key terms that could help with research:

* All searches above were done with "Oregon State University" as a term as well.

Farming and Agriculture 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.

Some key terms to consider when searching ScholarsArchive:

Farming in Benton County

There are several key places within the county that have a lot of farming history. The next few pages will go more into depth about more centralized areas such as Corvallis, Alsea, and Kings Valley / Hoskins area. Though not all information will be provided, these pages will be a great starting point to further your own research! 

It will include links of all kinds:

  • Archives
  • Newspapers
  • Images
  • and more!

Below, you will find some general links and information about Benton County to help get started!

Benton County is full of rich farming and agricultural history that may not always be obvious. 

There's Oregon State University, which was named the Oregon State Agricultural College in 1882. Agriculture and farming has been very prevalent in the college's history from early on, which you will see in the "Corvallis" tab. 

Below, you'll find more information about the Benton County Historical Society and Museum, which is a great resource for Agriculture and Farming history.

Here's a map of what Benton County looks like:


As you can see, it's pretty large and encompasses many towns and cities. The county is roughly 679 square miles, and as of 2014 boasts a population of approximately 86,000 (huge compared to the 1850 population of 814.)

To help navigate Benton County more fully, here are some great resources.

Benton County Records Inventory 

  • This records inventory boasts a wide array of information, and directs you towards where you can find the physical copies of the information. Here are the most beneficial inventories to the local farming history:
    • Land Subdivision Records (1851 - Ongoing):
      • Series documents the subdividing and partitioning of land within the county. Records include survey notes, correspondence, photographs, satisfaction of agreements, maps of subdivided and partitioned land, and contracts and permits. Information includes subdivision names; lot, street, and alley dimensions; and township, range, and section numbers of land to be subdivided or partitioned.
    • Maps, Plans, Drawings (1855 - Ongoing):
      • Series provides a visual representation of the county and of physical structures constructed on county lands. Series includes maps, plans, and drawings that vary in size, scale, and date. Included are maps, plans, and drawings of counties and cities, election precincts, courthouses and other county buildings, cemeteries, rivers, Indian reservations, school districts, construction projects, and soil classifications. General road maps may be found in the series titled Road and Bridge Records. Technical road survey maps may be found in the series titled Road Maps and Survey Notes.
    • Farm Name Registration Records (1911 - 1959):
      • Series documents the application for and registration of farm names with the county clerk or recorder. Records may include registers, original applications, or certificates. Information includes owner's name and address; farm name, location, and description; and date and number of application and final application. Series may also include an index arranged either alphabetically by name of owner or by farm name. Farm name records have been inventoried through 1964.
    • Land Title Registers (1865 - 1971):
      • Series records the ownership of land within the county. Records may include title registers, land indexes, land registration registers, torrens registry of titles, indexes to registered land, certificates of title, town lot indexes, ownership registers, and plat books. Information includes parties involved, land descriptions, dates, number and nature of titles, subdivisions, title holders, terms, discharge dates, and registrar's signatures. The torrens system of land registration was abolished in 1972 by Oregon law. Additional land ownership records may be found in the Deeds and Indexes series.

Century Farm

  • A Century Farm or Centennial Farm is a farm or ranch in the United States or Canada that has been officially recognized by a regional program documenting the farm has been continuously owned by a single family for 100 years or more. This database gives an idea of the farms that have been in the local area and in one family's hands for 100 years.

Extension Services - Benton County

  • OSU Extension faculty work with business people, growers, foresters, youth, and community leaders. They see first-hand what’s working, and what’s not working, in Oregon communities. Extension educators consult with scientists at Oregon State University, where they focus their research on the real issues important to real people. Results from that research circle back to the community through Extension programs. Knowledge grows from this cycle of reaching out and engaging the people who use it.
  • They also have a free online newsletter Small Farms, that concentrates on both commercial small farm entrepreneurs as well as non-commercial small acreage landowners.

Ag Census - Benton County 

  • The Ag Census is from 2012, but it provides a lot of information about the types of agricultural use for the farms in Benton County. It also details out the land values, as well as some statistics on the operators of these farms.

County Surveyor 

  • The Benton County Surveyor’s Office files surveys of property lines, property line adjustment surveys, partition and subdivision plats and oversees the public land corner restoration program and the county road list. Here are the types of documents that they have:
    • Plats, Surveys, Benton Map and Road List Links
    • Record of Survey
    • Property Line Adjustment
    • Partition Plats
    • Subdivision Plats
    • Recording Fees
    • The Corner Restoration Program

The Benton County Historical Society and Museum is a treasure trove of information (and also a fun place to visit!) Just outside of Corvallis in Philomath, it holds a wide array of information about Benton County - including farming and agricultural history!               

  • In 1868, Corvallis College is designated State Agricultural College in 1862 under the Morrill Act.
  • In 1870, the farmers of Benton county hold a mass meeting and unanimously agree to organize a Farmers' Club.
    • In the same year, the Corvallis Brewery burns down.

Some key names/words and search terms found while searching through their database:

  • Seavey Farms - Corvallis, OR
    • James W. Seavey
  • Oregon Apple Company - Monroe, OR
  • Kenagy Berry Farm - Benton County, OR
  • Bloomington Fruit and Nut Company - Benton County, OR
  • Mayers Beaver Creek Truck Farm - Benton County, OR
  • Musk Melon Farm - N/A
  • Brownsville Canning Company (Corvallis Facility) - Corvallis, OR
  • Benton County Growers Association
  • Ireland Hop Yard - Benton County, OR
  • Western Oregon Packing Corp. - Corvallis, OR
  • Asa Peacock Farm - Albany, OR
  • W.R. Read - Farm Owner
  • Edwin Russell Jackman - E.R. Jackman Institute for Agriculture Resources
  • Bill Lewis
  • J.C. Mann - Farm Owner - Philomath, OR
  • F.H. Hughson - Farmer
  • F.A. Horning - Farmer - Corvallis, OR
  • George Mercer
  • Ernest C. Haley
  • L. E. Harris
  • H. J. Moore - Philomath, OR

Also of note, the Benton County Historical Society has a Historic Benton County Business Directory, dating back to as early as 1867. From here you can look up businesses by name, location, year, and individual people!

Corvallis Farming

Corvallis is a main hub of agriculture and local food. Between being the location of Oregon State University and several acres of farmland, there's bound to be lots of history, which there is!

Corvallis History

  • Mary Gallagher, from the Benton County Historical Society, compiled the information for this extensive and thorough history of the city of Corvallis. More information about each decade of time is provided in the links and what is written here is just a quick overview. In addition to Agriculture information, the guide encompasses many aspects of Corvallis business and culture.
    • Agriculture (1851 - 1869):
      • Stock raising and general grains such as wheat and oats were a primary trade within Corvallis.
    • Agriculture (1869 - 1879):
      • Wheat was most important commercial grain crop in the area, and towards the later years, fruit growing and companies became a key part of Corvallis.
    • Agriculture (1880 - 1900):
      • Beginning in the 1890's, specialty farms began to rise in popularity as the grain needs began to die down.
    • Agriculture (1900 - 1929):
      • By the turn of the century, wheat production had given way to more diversified agricultural pursuits, of which the most important to the Corvallis economy were fruit crops, poultry and egg production, and dairying.
    • Agriculture (1930 - 1945):
      • Local agriculture encountered many different obstacles: the Great Depression, World War I and II, and the emigration of people from the Mid-West due to the Dust Bowl.

Historic Newspapers

  • A great resource to search and find content by local newspapers. Below you'll find links to specific local newspapers, as well as a few search terms used across all of the local newspapers.
    • The Benton Democrat (1871 - 18??)
      • It covered the Corvallis area and was printed on a weekly basis, though the collection has less than fifteen issues.
    • Corvallis Daily Gazette (1909 - 1909)
      • It covered the Corvallis area and was printed on a daily basis between May 3rd and June 30th of 1909.
    • Corvallis Gazette (1900 - 1909)
      • It was a semi-weekly publication that focused on the Corvallis area.
    • The Corvallis Gazette (1862 - 1899)
      • It was a weekly publication that eventually merged with another Corvallis publication.
    • The Corvallis Times (1888 - 1909)
      • A semi-weekly publication that also merged with another publication.
    • The Daily Gazette-Times (1909 - 1921)
      • A daily publication that covered the Corvallis area and merged with another publication.
    • The Gazette-times (1909 - 1909)
      • Only has one publication in the collection, it's dated July 2nd, 1909.
    • Oregon Union (1897 - 1899)
      • It was a weekly publication that eventually merged with another publication. There's less than twenty publications in this collection.
    • The Oregon Union (1862 - 1863)
      • A weekly publication that only has one publication in the collection, it's dated February 28th, 1863.
    • The Union Gazette (1899 - 1900)
      • It was a weekly publication that covered the Corvallis area.