Getting the Drop on Nature

William Finley filming while dressed as a goat. Glacier Park, Montana, 1929.  OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley D1024.

William Finley filming while dressed as a goat. Glacier Park, Montana, 1929.
OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley D1024.

Halloween is just a week away. In celebration, this month’s installation of our Reuniting Finley and Bohlman series takes a look at costumes—the innovative wildlife photographer’s best friend.

William Finley and his collaborators are renowned for their ingenuity and stubborn determination in ensuring that they got the best shot. Several photographs show Finley and Herman Bohlman burrowed deep into haystacks or perched precariously in the treetops waiting for birds to land in just the right place (often persuaded by a snack kindly left by the photographers). Finley’s earliest photography blind was a large wagon with a heavy green tarp hung down the sides, inside which he and Bohlman concealed themselves and their camera. In later years, particularly after Finley’s future son-in-law, Arthur Pack, joined the expeditions, the disguises got noticeably more creative.

The Infamous Goat Men of Glacier

On a 1928 expedition to Glacier Park in Montana, Finley and Pack took their efforts to photograph wildlife a step further than hiding in a blind: They donned a white flannel goat costume, complete with horns and whiskers. Writing of the experience later, Finley noted:

Carefully smoothing out my false whiskers, I crawled on to a point where I got good pictures within fifty feet. His white form almost filled the finder as I pressed the trigger. I shot pictures as fast as the film would run, and on to the end; after all, it was rather a simple thing to get the goat at fifty feet and less. It was perhaps just a matter of whiskers—white whiskers.”

To our great fortune, Finley and Pack’s goat antics are preserved in a 1930 Nature Magazine short film, “Getting our Goat.” The 15 minute film features stunning vistas of Glacier’s rugged terrain, intimate depictions of wildlife behavior, and of course, a be-goated Finley doing his best to get the drop on a group of wary goats.

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Illustration from Modern Mechanics and Inventions featuring Arthur Pack's cactus disguise.

Illustration from Modern Mechanics and Inventions featuring Arthur Pack’s cactus disguise.

A Prickly Situation

Costumes were deployed again on a 1930 expedition to Arizona and New Mexico that Finley co-led with Pack. This time, Pack hid inside a giant cactus held up by suspenders that concealed both man and camera. As he roamed the desert of the southwest in search of vantage points from which to lie in wait, Pack succeeded in capturing images of some of the region’s most elusive species. Though, given the lack of visible ventilation and seemingly fixed position of the camera, coupled with the extreme heat of the American Southwest, one has to wonder whether this effort led to more frustration than success.

 

Excerpt from March 1931 issue of Popular Science featuring Arthur Pack's cactus design.

Excerpt from March 1931 issue of Popular Science featuring Arthur Pack’s cactus design.

Learn More

To see more, be sure to check up on the Reuniting Finley and Bohlman Collection on Oregon Digital throughout the year as additional materials are uploaded.

This blog series is part of a yearlong partnership between the Oregon Historical Society Research Library and Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives to digitize the Finley and Bohlman photograph and manuscript collections held by our libraries and to unite them online through Oregon Digital and the OHS Digital Collections website (currently under development). Stay tuned in coming months for future installments about Finley, Bohlman, and their birding adventures around the state.

This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.

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“War on Rabbits Begins Sunday: Ritual Rabbit Slaughter and the Oregon Extension Service,” Jason Hogstad’s Resident Scholar

hogstadJason Hogstad, a Ph.D. student in the History department at the University of Colorado-Boulder, is the twenty-fourth individual to be supported by the Resident Scholar Program, operated by the Oregon State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC). The Resident Scholar Program awards stipends of up to $2,500 for a month’s study in the OSU Libraries. Historians, librarians, graduate, doctoral, or post-doctoral students as well as independent scholars are all welcome to apply.

Hogstad’s visit made use of SCARC’s massive body of agricultural history collections. He focused in particular on the records of Oregon State’s Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Stations, materials which showcase an important part of the university’s history.

In his Resident Scholar lecture, titled “War on Rabbits Begins Sunday: Ritual Rabbit Slaughter and the Oregon Extension Service,” Hogstad explored the role of the Oregon Extension Service during a period of change. His specific focus was on methods of pest control, rabbit drives and rabbit poisoning in eastern Oregon, and how the standard methods for controlling rabbits changed in the years between 1900 and 1925. In particular, Hogstad wanted to learn why people in eastern Oregon considered rabbit drives, a rather violent form of pest control, to be completely normal, and even fun. He also considered the reasons why people today find this bizarre and inappropriate.

In his presentation, Hogstad led off with a story about a rabbit drive in Echo, Oregon that took place in January, 1904. He explained how hundreds of people from neighboring rural areas, towns, and even cities gathered to kill jackrabbits. In this instance, the participants formed a line and walked through the area, attempting to herd 12,000 jackrabbits into a corral. About half of these were captured in the corral and beaten to death. The other half, however, had escaped, so area farmers asked participants to come back for another drive.

According to Hogstad’s research, this was standard operating procedure for rural communities in eastern Oregon. By the early 1900s, the area had only been settled for about twenty years, and the area was not easy to farm, given that it is very dry and subject to major temperature swings. As farming technology improved, specifically irrigation, more farmers came into the area. And it wasn’t just the human population that was increasing: irrigation increased the amount of food available to jackrabbits, while a bounty on coyotes decreased predation, leading to a boom in rabbit populations.

In response, farmers began to advertise rabbit drives, asking people from surrounding areas to come help. Newspapers published articles vilifying rabbits and advertised rabbit drives and associated activities, such as dinners or a performance from an orchestra. The drives themselves were seen as fun, as a celebration.

In his talk, Hogstad spoke of the rabbit drives as more than a way to remove a threat to farmers’ financial security. They also seemed to provide an outlet for the frustration and lack of control that area farmers grappled with as they sought to make a living in a harsh agricultural environment. Through a contemporary lens, Rabbit drives might now compare to modern fishing tournaments or bird watching events, where the goal is to see how many you can “get.”

Despite the popularity of the drives, they really didn’t make much of an impact on the jackrabbit population as a whole. Indeed, it would take a whole new method of control to bring about the drastic population decline that farmers sought.

The Oregon Extension Service was created in 1911, its purpose being to bring knowledge and information from researchers at Oregon Agricultural College to farmers throughout the state. However, many county agents had trouble convincing farmers to listen to someone whose credentials were mostly academic. Amos E. Lovett was one of these state agents and, in 1915, he put a plan into action that changed the fate of Extension. Seeing increasing rabbit populations and noting the lack of impact that rabbit drives were making, Lovett decided to become an expert in pest control. As such, he began traveling the state, talking with farmers and writing articles.

Lovett and a colleague eventually formed improvement organizations to show farmers how to mix rabbit poison – a combination of strychnine and alfalfa. The clubs also empowered county Extemsion agents to communicate with people in different areas, and to show what they could do for the area’s residents. For the farmers, there was a bit of a catch to the poisoning campaigns: to get poison, they had to join an improvement club. But once they did, the poison was free. Like the rabbit drives, farmers and their families managed to make poisoning campaigns fun, even holding so-called “poison picnics.” And unlike the rabbit drives, poisoning worked: in 1918 alone, an estimated $750,000 worth of agricultural production was saved.

When the rabbit populations around Echo boomed again in 1922, farmers this time turned to an Oregon Extension Service agent. The result was a staggering 110,000 rabbits killed; almost twenty times the number claimed in the rabbit drive held eighteen years earlier.

Near the conclusion of his talk, Hogstad branched out to look at the consequences of the change from rabbit drive to rabbit poisoning. He found that the shift in who was involved in pest control – namely the disappearance of urban residents – changed the ways in which these people viewed agricultural life. This disconnect between rural and urban dwellers inevitably changed the relationship between the two groups of people. Poisoning also turned pest control into an area for experts only, as it now required professionalism and science, not just the enthusiasm that propelled the rabbit drives.

Of course, people were not the only populations affected by the switch to mass poisoning as a method of jackrabbit control. Once jackrabbits were mostly eradicated, the farmers then moved on to other groups of pests, such as mice and ground squirrels, both of which experienced population booms as the jackrabbits, their primary competitors for food, disappeared. Potentially broader impacts on the environment were not considered.

The Resident Scholar Program at OSU Libraries is now in its ninth year of operation. For more about past Resident Scholars, please see the program’s homepage.

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What’s new on the OMA blog? Hear the Stories: Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection

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The OMA hosted the first of SCARC’s 2016 Archives Month events and we have it recorded for you to view online! “Hear the Stories: Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection” featured the oral historian, filmmaker, and educator, Michael “Chappie” Grice sharing the stories of Oregon’s African American railroad porters, including his personal experiences.

Read the rest at http://wpmu.library.oregonstate.edu/oregon-multicultural-archives/2016/10/12/oh-29-event/.

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Oregon Archives Month 2016!

OSULP's OAM 2016

OSULP’s OAM 2016

SCARC is so excited for another great set of events planned for 2016 Oregon Archives Month – all of which are free and open to the public!

We have three events in October:

Hear the Stories: Oregon African American Railroad Porters Oral History Collection
A presentation by Michael Grice, oral historian, filmmaker, and educator, sharing the stories of Oregon’s African American railroad porters.
Location: 5th Floor SCARC Reading Room in the Valley Library
Date: Wednesday, Oct 12th
Time: 3-5pm

Recipe Showcase “Taste of the ‘Chives”
Celebrate the legacy of Obo Addy at the launch of the new i-Book on the Obo Addy Legacy Project with a showcase of prepared selections from the organization’s Hot and Spicy Cookbook.
Location: Willamette Rooms, 3rd Floor of the Valley Library
Date: Friday, October 21st
Time: noon-1:30pm

Glitter in the Archives! Using History to Imagine Queer and Trans Futures
An opportunity for community members to participate in an evening of crafting using archival materials and, of course, learn about OSQA (OSU Queer Archives) and OSU + Corvallis area queer history.
Location: 5th Floor SCARC Reading Room in the Valley Library
Date: Wednesday, October 26th
Time: 4-6pm
This event is also a part of the OSU Pride Center’s Queer History Month

Also, if you are headed to the Oregon Archives Crawl  in Portland on Saturday, October 8th, 11am-3pm, be sure to stop by the OSU table!

And coming to the SCARC Reading Room in November in celebration of OSU’s Year of Arts and Science, join us for two more events:

Photograph 51
A play about the famous photo by scientist Rosalind Franklin that led to Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA.
Date: November 2nd
Time: 7pm

“Collections at the Center”
A public talk by historian William Robbins and archival materials from SCARC’s historical collections.
Date: November 3rd
Time: 4pm

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What’s new on the Pauling Blog? Deer Flat Ranch, A Kind of Paradise

Linus Pauling harvesting abalone, 1963.

Linus Pauling harvesting abalone, 1963.

In the years immediately following Linus and Ava Helen Pauling’s purchase of Deer Flat Ranch, the space quickly fulfilled its potential as a refuge from an extremely busy existence. A few years after buying the property, Ava Helen told her husband

Do you know, we have been here for one week, you and I, without seeing a single other person? This is the first time in our 40-odd years of marriage that this has happened.

More than a refuge even, the ranch gradually emerged as a kind of paradise for the Paulings. One could reliably harvest ten abalone off the adjacent rocks at low tide, and Linus found that he greatly enjoyed harvesting these sea snails with his wife, pounding them shoreside to tenderize them for dinner.

Read the whole post on the Pauling Blog!

This is part 2 of 3 in “The story of Deer Flat Ranch.”

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What’s new on the OMA blog? Sabor Latino ~ a Yamhill County Celebration!

sabor-latino

On September 24th, in celebration of Latino/a Heritage Month 2016, Yamhill County hosted “Sabor Latino” at the Chemeketa Community College Yamhill Valley Campus – and the OMA project Nuestras Voces y Herencia was there to share the stories gathered so far!

Read more on the blog! 

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What’s new on the OMA blog? OSQA at the 2016 Pride Center Connect Event

osqa-table

It’s the beginning of a new academic year and the beginning of OSQA’s 3rd year! We were thrilled to be invited by the OSU Pride Center to participate as part of its PC Connect event. OSQA shared a table with the Queer Studies Program and spoke with over 50 attendees! Our table included OSQA flyers, printed blog posts of our many events and collections, and i-Pads featuring the collections’ digital content.

Read the whole post and see all the pictures!

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What’s new on the Pauling Blog? The Story of Deer Flat Ranch, part 1.

1 deer flat

The kitchen at the Paulings’ original Deer Flat Ranch cabin, 1958.

In 1955, Linus Pauling and his wife Ava Helen headed to Berkeley, California from their home in Pasadena to attend a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Helen Hay Whitney Foundation. On the drive back from this event, the couple decided to take the scenic route along Highway 1 down the California coast. Passing through the Big Sur area, Pauling noted a point of land projecting into the ocean with a cabin and barn and a herd of grazing cattle. He suggested to his wife that such a location would be ideal as a country home for rest and relaxation. Ava Helen smiled and directed his attention to a For Sale sign on the side of the road.

Want to know more, read part 1 of 3 on the Pauling Blog!

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Herman Bohlman, the Man Behind the Lens

Bohlman in a Field of Gulls

Herman T. Bohlman standing in a field with a the sky full of gulls. Klamath Marsh, 1905.
OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley A1713.

Herman T. Bohlman sitting with young burrowing owls. OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley A1751.

Herman T. Bohlman sitting with young burrowing owls. OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley A1751.

In this month’s installment of our ongoing series, Reuniting Finley and Bohlman, about our efforts to digitize the collections of nature photographer William Finley, we shift our focus to explore the life of Herman Bohlman, Finley’s childhood friend and partner in crime on his earliest photography endeavors.

Herman Theodore Bohlman was born in Portland, Oregon on April 15, 1872. Friendship kindled between Finley and Bohlman shortly after the Finley family’s move to Portland in 1887. In high school, Bohlman and Finley’s interest in ornithology and collecting inspired them to start a side business selling biological specimens, including bird skins and eggs, to scientists and private collectors. By the late 1890s, however, the impact of over-collecting on bird populations led to a shift in public sentiment on the practice. The pair traded their collecting kit for a camera and embarked on a decade long partnership of artistic and scientific works. Between 1899 and 1908 Bohlman and Finley photographed and wrote about thousands of birds on expeditions throughout Oregon and California.

Bohlman passes Finley a glass plate as they are perched on a branch high in a tree photographing an eagle nest near Mission Peak, California, 1904. OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley A441.

Bohlman passes Finley a glass plate as they are perched on a branch high in a tree photographing an eagle nest near Mission Peak, California, 1904. OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley A441.

Of the two, Bohlman is often credited with having the more artistic eye behind the lens and some of the most iconic images to come from their collaboration bear only Bohlman’s name on the copyright. However, both men had cameras in the field and often worked in tandem to capture photographs from some truly precarious of vantage points. Bohlman’s photographs appeared in several U.S. and international publications, including Finley’s 1907 book, American Birds.

Herman Bohlman and Maud Bittleston on their wedding day in 1908. OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Herman T. Bohlman Photograph Collection, ca. 1898-1925 (P 202)

Herman Bohlman and Maud Bittleston on their wedding day in 1908.
OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center, Herman T. Bohlman Photograph Collection, ca. 1898-1925 (P 202)

Bohlman’s partnership with Finley largely came to an end in 1908 with Bohlman’s marriage to Maud Bittleston and the birth of their son, H. Theodore Bohlman. After that point, while their friendship endured, Bohlman shifted his focus to domestic responsibilities and his work within the family plumbing business. While he continued to be an active member of what would become the Oregon Audubon Society and to maintain his interest in birds, Bohlman rarely accompanied Finley into the field after marriage. He did, however, continue artistic pursuits through his love of oil painting later in life.

To see more examples of Bohlman’s photography, be sure to visit the Reuniting Finley and Bohlman Collection on Oregon Digital throughout the year as additional materials are uploaded.

This blog series is part of a yearlong partnership between the Oregon Historical Society Research Library and Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives to digitize the Finley and Bohlman photograph and manuscript collections held by our libraries and to unite them online through Oregon Digital and the OHS Digital Collections website (currently under development). Stay tuned in coming months for future installments about Finley, Bohlman, and their birding adventures around the state.

Bohlman Walking with a Pelican

Herman T. Bohlman and a pelican walking side by side near Klamath Marsh, 1905. OHS Research Library, Org. Lot 369, Finley A1796.

This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.Institute of Museum and Library Services Logo

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Having fun at University Day!

The OSU Library had a table at University Day this year ~ and look who showed up!

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Ida Kidder, first university librarian

There was also a nice array of goodies.

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And of course Benny was there.

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And so were we…

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