Other collections offer valuable opportunities for historical research. The Simeon G. Reed letters and private papers were once described by Reed archivist and professor Dorothy O. Johansen '33 as "without doubt, one of the most valuable sources of information available for the history of the Pacific Northwest between the years 1852 and 1905." They chronicle the early days of the Oregon Steam and Navigation Company, upon which the fortunes of Simeon Reed and thus the founding of Reed College were built. They also detail Reed's efforts to encourage scientific methods of farming and husbandry in the region, and they describe the growth of transportation, mining, and other industries in Oregon.

The Simeon Reed collection has an unusual history of its own. When Dexter Keezer, president of Reed from 1934 to 1942, sought to learn more about the origin of Reed and the lives of its founders, he was told that there were some papers somewhere that might be helpful, possibly stored in Eliot Hall. Eventually they were found "stored, but not intentionally concealed, under the false floor of the chemistry lecture room," according to an article by Johansen in January 1940. What other hidden treasures yet undiscovered still lie buried in obscure corners of Reed's older buildings?

On another set of shelves are the letters and papers of Thomas Lamb Eliot, whose influence led Simeon and Amanda Reed to will their money for the founding of the "Reed institute." Not only do the Eliot papers chronicle the early history of Reed College, but they are known by researchers of social reform, including the women's suffrage movement, as an invaluable source of information. In another corner is a little-known collection of the papers of Edouard Chambreau, an Indian scout for General O.O. Howard from 1876 to 1880 who had a passion for carefully recording what he saw. This collection was donated to the college by the family in order to ensure its preservation, although they apparently had no personal connection to Reed. What a treasure for someone seeking firsthand accounts of the relationship between white settlers and Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest during this period! In fact, a Reed thesis by Roy Ekland '65 was basedon these papers.

The wealth of history in this room is enticingly hidden. You have to know what you are looking for in order to get very far. Many of these records are confidential or restricted; many require permission for viewing. Certainly, unlike a library, archival collections do not lend themselves to casual browsing. Still, it would not pain me to be unexpectedly locked in this room. I am sure I could spend a happy week here pursuing the threads of Reed's history or the early voices of Reed poets. And I could always try out that jump rope.






Next Page
Next Page