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Oregon Food and Farming History

Oral Histories regarding Food and Farming

group of farm workers in a field of hops

SCARC Oral History Program

The Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) is home to one of the more active oral history programs administered by any archive on the West Coast.  Since 2011, SCARC faculty and staff have conducted over 400 oral history interviews, in the process creating a body of work that has contributed greatly to the scholarly documentation of past events while also providing useful context on contemporary life at OSU and across the Pacific Northwest.

In that same timespan, the department has likewise collected dozens more sessions completed by OSU students and faculty as well as donors external to the university.  All of SCARC's more recent interviews have been cataloged alongside several decades' worth of legacy oral history collections that are maintained and preserved by the department.  All told, SCARC is the repository for over 2,300 oral interviews, the earliest of which was conducted in 1949. 

We have also created a detailed tutorial on Oral History Interviewing Methods and Project Management that is written for individuals interested in pursuing oral history projects of their own.  Included in this resource are thoughts on interview preparation, permissions and access, description and transcription, oral history ethics, and ways in which SCARC is able to assist external partners.

Here are specific oral history collections that touch the basis of food in relation to the LibGuide topics, some with accompanying transcripts and audio files:Lambs in pasture, 1950s

Basques of Harney County, Oregon, Oral History Collection, 1976-2001

The Basques of Harney County, Oregon, Oral History Collection consists of transcripts and audiotapes of 15 oral history interviews conducted in 1976 and 1979 as part of an inventory of historic sites in Harney County. Basque sheepherders immigrated to southeastern Oregon from the 1890s through the 1920s and worked as itinerant herders on the mountain ranges of Harney County until the 1930s. All of the audiocassettes held in this collection have been digitized and these files are available upon patron request.

History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings, 1956-2012

The History of Oregon State University Oral Histories and Sound Recordings consist of oral histories conducted in 1956 by Lillian Van Loan for her doctoral dissertation on the history of Oregon State College and subsequent interviews done by Ilona Fry in 1980 on the development of the liberal arts at Oregon State University. The collection also includes more contemporary interviews conducted by SCARC staff and relating to various aspects of OSU's history. All of the audiocassettes held in this collection have been digitized and are available upon patron request.

Horner Museum Oral History Collection, 1952-1993

The Horner Museum Oral History Collection consists of more than 250 oral history interviews conducted or assembled by the Horner Museum. The interviews address a variety of topics including the stories of Oregon State University faculty, students, and academic departments; the history of Corvallis and Benton County, Oregon; evolving economic and cultural perspectives on natural resources in rural Oregon; the life experiences of Native Americans and other ethnic minorities in the region; and the recollections of Americans born in the first few decades of the twentieth century. All of the audiocassettes held in this collection have been digitized and these files are available upon patron request.

Oral Histories of the James Cant Ranch (John Day Valley, Oregon), 1982-1985

The Oral Histories of the James Cant Ranch are comprised of interviews with fifteen individuals that tell the story of James and Elizabeth Cant's successful agricultural operation - established in northeast Oregon on the John Day River in the early 1900s - and of rural agricultural life in the region where the Cant Ranch was located. The Cant family raised irrigated crops and livestock for over sixty years on a tract of land that came to encompass over 11,000 acres. In 1975 the Cant Ranch complex was purchased by the National Park Service for incorporation into the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. 

Oregon Emergency Farm Labor Service Oral History Collection, 1992Old Oregon trail marker, ca 1920s. Sign reads: "This marks the crossing of the Old Oregon Trail used by pioneers and settlers of the Oregon Territory. This marker in honor of W. W. Weatherford, 1844-1926. Who followed this route across the plains at the age of 17, driving oxen and walking barefoot. He later settled on Shuttler Flat, five miles south of this marker, and was the first to engage in wheat farming in Gilliam County. Erected by M. Weatherford."

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 Hops and Brewing Archives

The Oral Histories, Video page includes countless oral histories dating from 2014 to present, as well as oral histories from the Benton County Historical Society. 

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 State University Extension Service Faculty and Staff Oral History Collection

In anticipation of its centennial in 2011, the Oregon State University Extension Service interviewed several of its emeritus faculty in 2007, 2008, and 2009. These interviews help to tell the story of Extension in Oregon over a fifty-year period following World War II, and cover topics including agriculture, 4-H, home economics, energy, community development, Sea Grant, communications, administration, and support. The interviewees who are included in the collection that is presented here are: Roberta Anderson, Len Calvert, Dean Frischknecht, John Hansen, Bob Jacobson, Duane Johnson, Alberta Johnston, Harold Kerr, Glenn Klein, Linda Modrell, Owen Osborne, Jack Ross, Jane Schroeder, Walt and Sally Schroeder, Greg Tillson, and Tom Zinn.

Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Collection, 2013-2017

The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Collection documents the history, culture and ambition of Oregon State University through interviews with alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, current students and supporters. Most of the items held in the collection take the form of life history interviews, their sole common thread being a given interviewee's association, past or present, with Oregon State University. A total of 243 interviews were conducted for the project, summing to more than 350 hours of recording time. The contents of this collection are available online through a dedicated web portal.