In October of the year 1915 a 16 page magazine, little bigger than a small pamphlet, was published and sent out by the Oregon State Alumni Association.
The Alumni Association was still relatively young and the cost of the membership due was only a dollar, but despite the low cost of membership very few alumni contributed much money to the organization and early issues of the magazine made clear that they were on fairly poor financial footing. OSU alumnus E.B. Lemon wanted to change that…
Seeking to gain greater financial stability, the magazine issue urged members to pay their dues and even talked about the creation of a special club within the Alumni Association for those who gave five dollars. One of the ultimate benefits of the increased funding was to be a designated alumni center on the Oregon State Campus. The magazine was created in part to demonstrate the neat features that the Association could put out regularly with more funding.
The Oregon Stater would become a hit with Alumni who wrote in letters to show their support for the publication, with one saying that “[w]ithout the assistance of an alumni publication there is little opportunity for graduates to keep in touch with their Alma Mater and to watch its progress.”
Over time the magazine grew in size and the content focus began to shift as well. Early issues of the Oregon Stater featured many statistics on OSU as an institution and how it compared in attendance and other factors to various Agricultural colleges around the nation. Sports topics were popular then as they are now and the early publications focused on things like the Beaver’s athletics teams, new coaches, transfers, and season outlooks. Early issues also featured several small poems, written about the Alumni Association itself or just the struggles of a freshman trying to pass chemistry. A large component of these magazines was also the focus on the comings and goings of Oregon State Alumni, whether it be jobs, marriages, the birth of children, the death of former graduates and even just reminiscing about former classmates that few people saw anymore. By 1920 this section had become “Who’s Who?” and the magazine had gotten a makeover in appearance and size.
Later articles in the Oregon Stater followed the increasing growth of the College as it added on buildings, departments, faculty and new services for students. During World War One the Oregon Stater began publishing letters from the front, sent by Oregon State graduates seeking to connect with former classmates and find out what everyone was up to even as the soldiers toiled in Europe.
The scope and size of the Oregon Stater has changed greatly over the years and its past issues offer a unique view of the growth and development of Oregon State. By looking at the growth of the University whether in buildings, students or new research the Oregon Stater is helping to keep alumni up to date with their Alma Mater and ensure that even after graduation anyone can still be a member of the Beaver family if they wish.
- The Oregon Stater is published by the OSU Alumni Association three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring) and distributed to all alumni households, and non-alumni members of the association.
- The archives of the Oregon Stater are available on the OSU Alumni Association site from April 2000 to the present; however, they include only excerpts of each magazine until the April 2006 issue and after are full PDF versions of the magazine as published.
- Looking for something in particular? The Oregon Stater index is available online at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/oregon-stater-index.pdf.
This post was written by Christopher Russell, a History student who will join the alumni ranks in June 2015. Research and quotations were taken from past issues of the Oregon Stater, accessed through the Oregon State Special Collections & Archives Research Center.