Robert E. McDole entered Oregon State College (OSC) in fall 1948 and attended OSC until 1952, when he earned a BS in Soils. From 1952 until 1965, he conducted soil and range surveys in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho as a soil scientist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1964, he entered graduate school at the University of Idaho and earned MS (1968) and Ph.D. (1969) degrees in soil science. He also was employed by the University of Idaho as a research fellow and Extension Soils Specialist. McDole was responsible for all Extension Service soils programs in Idaho, including soil fertility, soil surveys, soil conservation, soil management, and youth programs. He also served as Chair of the Soils Science Division of the Department of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences at the University of Idaho from 1986 until his retirement in 1990.
A native Oregonian, McDole was born in Eugene, Oregon, and lived in Ontario, Oregon from 1933 until he graduated from high school. McDole lived in the Campus Club men's cooperative during his student years at Oregon State College.
The Robert E. McDole Papers consists of materials created or assembled by McDole during his undergraduate years at Oregon State College, as a graduate student at the University of Idaho, and in the course of his work as a soil scientist and Extension Soils Specialist. The collection documents McDole's undergraduate and graduate education, research and publications, and involvement in professional organizations. The Papers include biographical materials and a curriculum vitae, student materials, publications, reference materials, and books.
The materials from McDole's undergraduate student years at Oregon State College include records of the Oregon Chapter of the Alpha Zeta agricultural honorary society at Oregon State and class notebooks, examinations, laboratory and field notebooks, and term papers for courses taken by McDole. These include several soils and horticulture courses, introduction to journalism, a geology of Oregon course in spring 1952 taught by William Taubeneck, and an introductory photography course taught by John C. Garman. The notebook for the photography course includes photographs taken by McDole for the class, primarily of campus buildings. The geology notebook includes several maps. The student materials also include the 1951-1952 Fussers Guide (campus directory) and a program for the 1954 Oregon State versus University of Idaho football game.
The publications include McDole's thesis and dissertation, Some Properties of Loess in the Bannock Peak Transect in Southeastern Idaho (1968) and Loess Deposits Adjacent to the Snake River Flood Plain in the Vicinity of Pocatello, Idaho (1969); publications, primarily on Idaho soils, written by McDole; Oregon State Soils Department newsletters; and conference abstracts, programs, and proceedings. Loess Auger, the Oregon State Soils Club newsletter for 1958-1965 is included as well as the Soils Department alumni newsletters for 1979-1992. Conference abstracts, programs, and proceedings for the Western Society of Soil Science and the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) are part of the collection. A short report on the 1988 Natural Resources for the 21st Century conference is also included.
The reference materials include publications and reports on soils and irrigation in Oregon prepared in the late 1930s through early 1950s. Several of these were written by W.L. Powers. The collection also includes two sets of soil color charts.
The books include textbooks for geology ( Rocks and Rock Minerals by Louis V. Pirsson), soils (The Nature and Properties of Soils by T. Lyttleton Lyon and Harry O. Buckman), and bacteriology (Introduction to the Bacteria by C.E. Clifton) used by McDole at Oregon State College. The bacteriology text is covered with an Oregon State College Bookstore bookcover. A 1949 Handbook of Water Control and The Golden Mountain by Easurk Emsen Charr are also part of the collection.