T.J. Starker studied forestry at Oregon Agricultural College (OAC) and graduated in the first class of foresters from OAC in 1910. He earned an MS in forestry in 1912 from the University of Michigan. He returned to Oregon and worked for the U.S. Forest Service near Baker and in Portland and for the Western Pine Association. In 1922, he returned to Oregon Agricultural College as a professor of forestry, a position he held until 1942. During the 1930s, he began purchasing cutover timberland in the area of Marys Peak and the Coast Range near Corvallis, which became the extensive second-growth holdings of Starker Forests. Starker served on the Oregon State Board of Forestry, was elected a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters, and received numerous awards and honors.
Starker was a prolific contributor of letters-to-the-editor to the Corvallis Gazette-Times and a civic leader. He was instrumental in leading a community effort to pave Van Buren Street in 1923 and to acquire Avery Park for the city.
The T.J. Starker Collection consists of materials written and assembled by Starker, including newspapers clippings; letters-to-the editor and guest editorials written by Starker and submitted to the Corvallis Gazette-Times and other regional newspapers; correspondence; and autobiographical essays about Starker's student years at Oregon Agricultural College and the University of Michigan, his civic accomplishments, and forestry work.
The bulk of the collection consists of newspaper clippings pertaining to the 1980-1982 eruptions of Mt. St. Helens, the Oregon economy during the early 1980s, Governor Vic Atiyeh, logging and the timber industry, Corvallis civic activities, and other newsworthy topics in the early 1980s. The clippings are roughly arranged in chronological order.