Bob Henderson’s connection with OSU spanned more than 70 years from 1933, when he enrolled as a freshman from Hermiston, until his death in early 2006. During this time he served student body president in 1937-1938, earned a BS in agronomy in 1938, and served as a Farm Crops faculty member and Assistant Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station from 1946 until his retirement in 1976. Henderson completed a masters degree at Cornell University and a Ph.D. in plant genetics at the University of Minnesota in 1949.
Henderson was an avid photographer and carried a camera wherever he went on or off campus; he was well-known throughout Oregon for his slide prsenations to schools and clubs on OSU's agricultural research. His 30-year retirement was an active one as he became known for his expertise in numismatics, participated in Triad Club and other OSU activities, and continued as a ubiquitous photographer.
Alice Welbes graduated from Oregon State College in 1937. She and Henderson married in 1938.
The Robert W. Henderson Papers document Henderson’s research as a plant breeder, including his work at the University of Minnesota during World War II to domesticate the Russian Dandelion (Kok-Saghyz) as an emergency source of natural rubber; his role as Chief Advisor for the cooperative research program between Oregon State College and Kasetsart University in Thailand in the late 1950s and early 1960s; his long-time interest in photography; and the slide presentations about OSU agricultural research that he developed and presented throughout the state.
The papers include biographical information, correspondence, research notes, photographs, architectural drawings, newspaper clippings, notebooks, photographs, publications, slide show scripts, speeches, sound recordings, and films as well as student memorabilia and other ephemera. The photographs primarily depict Henderson's Russian dandelion research; images of the OSU greenhouses, the Junior Agricultural Research Scientists’ Institute on campus, and a retirement reception for Dean Earl Price are also included.
The sound recordings include Henderson's slide presentations, Magic of Research, Scientists at Work, Benton County Country, and This is Oregon State; Experiment Station public service announcements; interviews with OSU faculty Warren Kronstad, Boersma, Wilber Cooney, John Bieber, and OSU President Robert MacVicar; special events such as the Marine Science Center dedication and an OSU Marching Band performance at Candlestick Park in San Francisco; and agricultural topics such as animal waste disposal, the Willamette airshed, the protein value of pork, and the Oregon beef industry; an interview with Governor Tom McCall; Triad Club meetings; and testimony before a 1975 legislative committee
One motion picture film includes footage from a Junior Agricultural Research Scientists' Institute (JARSI) workshop. "Home is Where the Heart Is" is a videotape interview of Bob and Alice Henderson made by their daughter, Alice Rampton in 1993-1994 at several locations on campus and at various houses where the Hendersons lived in Corvallis. The interview documents the Hendersons' student days, their early married years, neighbors connected with the university, household wares, and Bob's teaching career.