Western History

Western History

History is flourishing at the Pacific University Archives and Special Collections repositories.

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The Archives recently became home to pioneer items donated by Pacific University Trustee Ken McGill. The donation includes two chairs, likely dating from the 1850s, along with a handwritten note from McGill’s late mother, Edith Hansen McGill ’30.

One of the chairs, with a leather thong seat, “was brought West in a covered wagon in the 1850s when Uncle Jim & Uncle Levi Martin (my mother’s uncles; her mother’s brothers) came West,” she wrote.

Pacific’s archivist, Eva Guggemos, notes that Edith McGill’s great uncle Jim Martin was a Civil War veteran and that the brothers were part of a pioneer family who moved from Virginia sometimes between 1800 and 1820, eventually settling in what are now Oregon’s Washington and Yamhill counties.

“We do not know how old the chairs are,” Guggemos said. “But it’s possible that they journeyed with the family from as far back as Virginia.”

Pacific’s archives include not only historical artifacts from the university’s past, but also from the history of the region. Another notable recent addition includes the complete papers of former Gov. Vic Atiyeh, who is a Pacific University trustee emeritus and received an honorary degree from Pacific in 1996.

Atiyeh made Pacific the official home of his personal papers, photographs and memorabilia, and the collection is in the process of being archived and made digitally available to researchers and the public. A celebration of the public opening of the collection is planned for this fall. n