Pacific University’s Story from a Pacific Family

While the story of Pacific University has been written before, a posthumous publication provides the perspective of an author who was married to a Pacific University president, earned a degree from Pacific University, taught at Pacific, and befriended the children and grandchildren of the university’s founders: Marion Fisk Giersbach.

A College Grows in Oregon: The Splendid Audacity of Pacific University is Giersbach’s account of the men and women who were integral to the founding of Pacific. The book is based on her personal research and conversations with the founders’ families—most notably Wheelock Marsh, the eldest son of Sidney Harper Marsh, first president of the university—and Giersbach’s narrative is largely built around the correspondence and personal writings of these men and women. Giersbach completed the manuscript shortly before her death in 1991 and her son, Walter Fisk Giersbach, has edited the manuscript and prepared it for publication. Walter Giersbach grew up while his parents were at Pacific University and also knew many of the founders’ children that his mother drew on as sources for the book. In order to share Marion’s work most broadly, Walter has partnered with Bee Tree Books, a cooperative publishing service of the Pacific University Libraries.

About Marion Fisk Giersbach

Marion Fisk Giersbach was born in Chicago, IL and raised in Sabetha, KS, Chester, VT, and Cleveland Heights, OH. She received a diploma in children’s education at Oberlin College in 1922. In 1926-27, she studied dramatics and music at Bush Conservatory in Chicago.  In 1928, she married Walter C. Giersbach, DD, PhD. Her education continued at the Cleveland Art School in 1930 before receiving her BA degree in English from Pacific University in 1946.

Her career included teaching kindergarten and elementary school in Youngstown and Cleveland; serving as a cartographer and researcher at Chicago Theological Seminary; and teaching a summer course in Oregon history at Pacific in the 1940s. 

In 1941, she moved with her husband to Forest Grove, OR, while he served as president of Pacific University.  While there, she organized the Tualatin Valley Historical Society and a Junior Historical Society in Forest Grove, and opened the museum in Pacific's Old College Hall. 

She moved with her family to South Pasadena, CA, in 1953, and the following year to Montclair, NJ, where she worked with Dr. Giersbach, who served as secretary for special gifts for the Board of Home Missions of the Congregational Church (later, United Church of Christ).  Later moves took her to Cherry Hill, NJ, and finally to Howell, NJ, where she died on September 27, 1991.

About Bee Tree Books

Bee Tree Books is a publishing service of the Pacific University Libraries. Through Bee Tree, the Libraries publish books that are either written by Pacific University community members or have a direct connection to Pacific's history or academic programs.

Titles published under the Bee Tree imprint are not edited for content or peer-reviewed; authors are responsible for the accuracy and quality of content. The Libraries primarily facilitate access to printing and distribution networks, and may also provide authors with limited copyediting, design, and production assistance. Depending on the nature of the project and the extent of services required, authors may be responsible for the costs of some services.

Bee Tree titles are generally published both in digital open access editions and print editions, which are sold via the Libraries’ print-on-demand distributors. Authors retain copyright for all works published through Bee Tree.

Monday, Oct. 24, 2016