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Oregon Food and Farming History

Archival and Manuscript Collections on Local Food History

Arnold Ebert of KOAC interviewing a cow, 1950

Agriculture Photograph Collection, ca. 1890-1970

Several groupings of photographs were made by/for the Extension Service and the Agricultural Experiment Station, and depict the Emergency Farm Labor Service and Branch Experiment Station buildings and activities. Agricultural activities shown on campus include brooder houses, chicken coops, farm machinery classes, and the dairy barn. A small number of photos scattered throughout the collection were made by the USDA in Oregon around 1910. Approximately 92 photographs were probably collected by Wallace Kadderly for use in Western Farmer magazine, and include images of dairy and beef cattle, Canadian agriculture, groups of agricultural editors, and barns. Photographers, when known, are indicated next to each image listed in the inventory. Series II covers the Emergency Farm Labor program.

Edna P. Amidon Papers, 1924-1979

The Edna P. Amidon Papers are comprised of materials relating to Amidon's efforts as an international leader in home economics. Included are materials documenting her work as Regional Agent (1929-1938) and Chief (1938-1964) of the Home Economics Education Service, particularly during the Great Depression and World War II; drafts of speeches and publications given in support of home economics; records of professional activities in Germany (1947), Sweden (1947), and France (1954); professional literature; and biographical materials.

Of note in the collection are publications authored by Amidon, including an annotated typescript of "American Women: Education for Family Living." Also included in the collection are pamphlets and booklets from the U.S. Office of Education ("School Children and the War" and "Family Saving and Spending in Wartime"); U.S. home economics programs ("Measuring Home Management" and "The History of Home Economics"); France ("Feminine Work and Work at Home" and "Rational Construction of a Home"); and Sweden ("The Postwar Programme of Swedish Labour" and "Social Benefits in Sweden").

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. 

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. This large collection has a wealth of material related to food labor and supply during World War II.

Of note in the collection are materials relating to wartime labor and agriculture, and conservation and production of food for the war effort.

 Oregon's Agricultural Progress Summer 1974 coverOregon's Agricultural Progress Magazine, 1953-2016

Oregon Agricultural Progress Magazine is a report to the taxpayers of Oregon from Oregon State University's Agricultural Experiment Station demonstrating how agriculture contribute to the economy, environment, and social structure of Oregon and the world. The print magazine was first published in 1953. Issues of the magazine from 1953-1995 are available online in Oregon Digital.

Oregon Counties Long-Range Planning Conference Reports, 1924-1971

The Oregon Counties Long-Range Planning Conference Reports document the economic conferences sponsored by the Extension Service in Oregon counties beginning in the 1920s. The reports include statistics on population, land use, farm incomes, and market value of agricultural products for the county at the time of the conference and recommendations regarding agriculture, land use, and economic development for the county. The reports include information about agricultural history of the county; railroads and highways; soils, irrigation, and water resources; livestock, poultry, and dairy; farm crops; horticultural products; farm home and rural life; 4-H and youth programs; and forests and timber production. Later reports include information pertaining to recreation; minerals and mining; cultural and religious life, and health and medical services. 

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 student of five individuals familiar with farm labor in Oregon during World War II.

Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection, 1975-1978

The Oregon Pioneers Oral History Collection consists of 33 interviews conducted primarily in the summer of 1975 by Oregon State University students to document various aspects of local history from 1880 to 1929 in preparation for the United States bicentennial in 1976. 

Of note in the collection is Floyd Mullen's interview, which discusses the Southern Pacific railroad, Willamette Valley farming, the Ketchum family, donation land claims, Lebanon paper mill, Quartzville and pioneer life.

Oregon Tilth, Inc. Records

The Oregon Tilth, Inc. Records chronicle the establishment and emergence of Oregon Tilth, Inc. from Tilth, which originally was established in 1974 in Washington State.  Oregon Tilth, Inc. is an organic agriculture certification and education organization based in Corvallis, Oregon. The materials reflect the growth of sustainable agriculture in the Northwest and later, globally. It includes materials generated and collected by the organization.  The collection includes Oregon Tilth board materials, newsletters, audio recordings, video recordings, manuals, photographs, the organization's websites, and educational materials.

Oregon Tilth Oral History Collection

The oral histories include interviews with three different people (Lynn Coody, Harry MacCormack, and John Graham) over the course of five sessions.

Stock's Cash Store Records, 1880-1897

The Stock's Cash Store Records are comprised of three ledger books documenting sales and purchases made by Stock's Cash Store, a general store located in Corvallis, Oregon, between 1880 and 1897. The ledgers contain itemized records of daily transactions and the balances of individual customer and vendor accounts.

Local Food History in the Main Collection

Searching the Main Collection through the library catalog 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 important to note that there is a plethora of sources in the Special Collections and Archives regarding Oregon food and farming, and there's a potential for the sources you do find in 1Search may actually be from Special Collections and Archives.  There is also a good chance many of the sources you find will be available digitally and the catalog will link you to external databases like HathiTrust.  If you're unsure where to go to find a specific resource, don't be afraid to ask a librarian for research tips!

Some key terms that could help with research relevant to Local Food:

Local Food History in Rare Books Collections

You can also search for books in our Rare Books collections by searching the library catalogue as well! To search our book collections specifically, limit your search to "Special Collections and Archives" from the default "Books, media, and articles" in the dropdown menu of the search bar.

Here are the same searches run previously, within SCARC collections:

Local Food History in ScholarsArchive@OSU

Fighters on the farm front : a story of the 1943-46 Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Program 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, including theses and dissertations. 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:

Local Food History in MediaSpace

OSU MediaSpace is where the OSU community can post recordings, most of which are recent recordings of lectures. classes, or events.  

SCARC's presence on Media Space consists largely of oral history interviews, digitized copies of SCARC films, and presentations hosted by SCARC.

Some keywords to to search include:

Early Farming in the Willamette Valley

While the Donation Land and Homestead Acts helped settle the are now known as Oregon, our local area saw settlers before that, including one of the first Black woman settlers, Letitia Carson.

In fact, because of the exclusion of the blacks in the aforementioned Land Donation Act, the Oregon Territory's new exclusion laws, and the death of her partner in 1852, Carson was forced off her land.  In the mid-1850s, she filled two lawsuits against the administrator of the estate, eventually winning her claims.

To learn more about the life of Letitia Carson and her continued impact on Oregon see the Letitia Carson Legacy Project.


Willamette Grange and Community HallGranges are an important part of agricultural communities in the United States, and can refer to both the physical location and the national- and state-level organization.  A center of the local community, the Grange supports the agricultural way of life, through both education and recreation by hosting lectures, and social events to bring the community together.  The National Grange states that it seeks to strengthen "individuals, families and communities through grassroots action, service, education, advocacy and agriculture awareness."

For more information about local granges, check out a search for "grange" on our website or a search for "grange" on Oregon Digital.

Additional Resources Relating to Farming in Benton County

Corvallis Orchard Company HouseBenton County is a main hub of agriculture and local food.  Between being the location of Oregon State University and acres of farmland, it's full of rich farming and agricultural history.  Below, you will find general links and information about Benton County to help get your research started.  Though not all information will be provided, these pages will be a great starting point to further your own research! 

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 Farm2015 Century Farm & Ranch Program Awards Ceremony

  • 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.

Census of Agriculture

  • The Ag Census provides a lot of information about the types of agricultural use for the farms in Benton County, and the United States as a whole. 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
    • Recording Fees

Benton County Historical Society and Museum 

  • Located in downtown Corvallis, the museum holds a wide array of information about Benton County - including farming and agricultural history!              
  • 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.