Friday Feature: Karl & Mike’s Excellent Adventure – Part Deux

Mike and Karl took another road trip this week, to the far ends of the earth. Okay, really just to the Oregon coast. Mike wrote up this post about their trip — enjoy!

A popular misconception is that archivists spend their days cooped up with dusty old documents and a box of file folders. This may hold some truth, but occasionally a road trip is in order.

Tasked with retrieving the personal papers of Dr. Paul R. Elliker, a famous professor from the Bacteriology Department at Oregon State College, SCARC’s Karl McCreary and Mike Dicianna set out on another “most excellent adventure” to pick up papers being donated by Beth Elliker (see left).  The bonus was they were located in the town of Otter Rock, on the beautiful Oregon Coast!

Dr. Elliker built a wonderful retreat for his family in Otter Rock, retiring there in the early 1980s. Just a few blocks from Devil’s Punch Bowl State Park, the views from this property were spectacular and Elliker spent his final years working in an office that overlooked the Pacific surf.  Currently, his grand-daughter, who is a writer, has been using this office. She finally had to move into a back bedroom, facing a blank wall, to get anything accomplished! It is not difficult to imagine why…

Paul Elliker was born in 1911 in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. He received his B.S. (1934), M.S. (1935), and Ph.D. (1937) degrees in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the faculty of Purdue University’s Dairy Husbandry Department in 1940. During the years 1944-1945 Elliker served at Fort Detrick, Maryland in the United State Army’s Bio warfare Group. In 1947, he was appointed a member of the faculty in the Bacteriology Department at Oregon State College. He taught at Oregon State until his retirement in 1976, serving as department chair from 1952-1976. His areas of research included germicides, bacterial viruses, aerobiology, nutrition of lactic acid bacteria, and psychrophilic bacteria.

This biographical note from the current “MSS Elliker” collection only begins to describe the life of this man. What we found was thirty boxes of his passions; research, travel, collaboration with other scientists, and most importantly—CHEESE!  The doctor’s papers included a treasure trove of his personal research notes, course materials, and speeches (Beth called them his “cheese talks”). We also found a vast amount of research data on bacteriology, sanitation, and dairy practices. Manuscripts of his books and journal articles, with his personal notes will be of great interest to researchers in this field.  The Elliker collection is currently small, 1.2 cubic feet, and only contains a representative sample of Dr. Elliker’s work. We now will have a much more complete picture of his research with this addition: we have his thoughts, words and interests.

All in all, this road trip was a huge success! SCARC obtained an important collection of one of OSU’s most prominent scientist and educators — 30 boxes of documents, teaching materials, and some great scrapbooks will be added to the “MSS Elliker” collection over the next few months.  So researchers looking for information about bacteriology, food science and sanitation, and of course… CHEESE will have the opportunity to spend hours of quality time in Dr. Elliker’s papers.

Here we see Karl contemplating the accession process for Paul Elliker’s papers.

Of course it didn’t hurt that the acquisition was located in one of the most beautiful locales on earth, and on a spectacular day full of sunshine and good history!

With our “Chive Van” filled, it behooved us to take a short break and see if the Pacific Ocean was still there! And indeed, it was.

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