Special Collections Archives help students, community members delve into rich campus history

Jackie Keating, Forum contributor

Sunlight streamed through the panoramic windows of the special collections archives as I began my quest for Oregon State University history on Monday, April 25.

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center, or the SCARC as it is affectionately known, is located on the fifth floor of the Valley Library, and offers stunning views of the library quad and surrounding mountains as well as housing “the university’s unique collections of manuscripts, archives, photographs and books,” according to the SCARC website.

When I went in, I instantly got a cool, scholarly vibe—you can tell immediately that this is a place where people go out of their way to learn. I walked past the entrance, which is currently showing an exhibit on owls, and got to the main room.

It’s simple, but elegant: a series of tables are surrounded by bookshelves full of local history, like old yearbooks and collections of newspapers.

It was the newspapers I was after—specifically, I wanted a copy of our very own Barometer from 50 years ago to see what has changed.

I was made to take my coat and backpack into a small locker room, and then fill out a form identifying who I was and the purpose of my research. Then, I got to exchange my OSU ID card for a huge bound book of school papers ranging from September 1965 through August 1966.

I suppose I was expecting a lot to be different, and a lot was. The papers themselves are huge and dense, and some of the ads were on the sexist side, but a lot of the content seemed eerily the same. I jumped to Tuesday, April 26, 1966’s edition of The Daily Barometer to get a taste of what life was like around the same time as today. For instance, one headline declared “KBVR Plans Special Show,” outlining that KBVR would be hosting a mother’s weekend radio show titled “Hats off to Mom.” Another story announced the winners of ASOSU elections, and one small headline shouted “IFC Sing Ends Moms Events.”

I was somewhat surprised at how little some things have changed here at OSU. I didn’t realize just how embroiled in tradition the school was.

Still, the year was 1966, and there were some stories to prove it. One story, for example, outlined the arrival of the breathalyzer to Oregon, proclaiming that “a new breath-testing machine was used by state police in Corvallis two weeks ago for the first time since Oregon’s ‘implied consent’ law was implemented on April 1.”

The article went on to explain what a Breathalyzer is, and warned the drivers of the 60s to know their rights when submitting to a Breathalyzer test. There was also a humorous ad for “Whammo’s blind dates,” asking readers to “let our IBM 7090 computer (the world’s most perfect boy/girl matcher) select 5 ideal dates for you!”

Overall, it can be really fun to sit down for a moment and wonder what life was like decades before we were born.

And if you’d like to look past the old newspapers and yearbooks and see old manuscripts or photographs, that can also be arranged. Whatever the case, if you want to take a quiet moment to reflect and explore, head up to the SCARC. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The opinions expressed in Keating’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer staff.

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