The connections between the University of Oregon and New York City stretch back to the founding years of the school when its financial troubles ("the pecuniary embarrassment" in the words of the Board of Regents) were assuaged by Henry Villard, the New York railroad magnate. Indeed, the University Library System still enjoys income from funds given by Mr. Villard and its shelves carry books bought with that fund as well as titles he presented to the library.
Over the past one hundred and twenty-five years other New Yorkers have also contributed to the enhancement of the University and its library collections. The Burgess Collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts and printed books was acquired in the 1930s from a New York collector whose sister, Julia Burgess, taught in the University of Oregon's English Department. As the Division of Special Collections and University Archives expanded in the post World War II period New York continued to be the source of gifts which enriched the resources of the University of Oregon.
This exhibition celebrates one of the most important of those gifts--the papers of Jane Grant and the endowment in her memory by William Harris, her husband, of the Center for the Study of Women in Society. The collection came to the library in 1976 as part of its program of documenting the achievements of American women. In 1974 Mr. Harris was approached for an endowment for the University and, after a visit to the school and negotiations with faculty and administrators, he complied.
Just as this collection and the Center for the Study of Women in Society arose out of a broad institutional collaboration, so too this exhibition has resulted from the cooperation of a number of people and departments in the campus community. The exhibition is the brainchild of Linda Long, Manuscripts Librarian in the Division of Special Collections and University Archives of the University Library System. Funding has been generously provided by the Office of the Provost, John Moseley, and by CSWS. The text was written by Susan Rich and the items were selected by Ms. Long, Ms. Rich, and Dorothy Knaus, Manuscripts Assistant. Judith Musick, Associate Director for CSWS, provided advice, assistance and encouragement throughout the project.
The exhibition should also remind us that this twenty-five year history of collaboration between CSWS and the University Library's Special Collections is an ongoing phenomenon. One of the subjects of last year's Feminist Voices and Visions exhibition, Abigail Scott Duniway, is the subject of a grant request to the Library of Congress/Ameritech Corporation's program of digitally enhancing the resources available for the study of American History. Ongoing collection development initiatives such as the Oregon Women's Political History Collection attest to the University Library's continuing commitment to documenting the multi-faceted role of women in American life. In all of these activities we have found collaboration to be not only the right thing to do but also, as we hope this exhibition demonstrates, the instructive and rewarding thing to do.
George Shipman, University Librarian