James C. Howland earned an engineering degree from Oregon State College in 1938 and attended graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After serving with engineering units in Hawaii and Saipan during World War II, he returned to Corvallis, Oregon, in 1946. With fellow Oregon State alumni Holly Cornell, T. Burke Hayes, and Fred Merryfield, Howland founded CH2M, an engineering consulting firm, in 1946. Howland served as general manager for 20 years and chairman of the board in 1974-1977.
Howland married Ruth (Meisy) Meisenhelder in 1941 and they had four children: Mark, Joyce, Eric, and Peter. Howland was active in the Madison Avenue Task Force to beautify the avenue which connects the Oregon State University campus with downtown Corvallis and was instrumental in the development of the Riverfront Park project in downtown Corvallis in the 1990s. Howland was an active member of the Oregon State College Class of 1938 and participated in reunion planning beginning in 1963. Howland was also an accomplished artist, focusing on silk-screen printing. Howland was born in Oregon City on June 2, 1916; he died in Corvallis on August 28, 2008.
The James C. Howland Papers consist of materials generated and assembled by Howland that document his student years at Oregon State College, military service during World War II, engineering career, community involvement and civic leadership, family, and role as an artist. The Papers include certificates, class notes, correspondence, meeting minutes, notes, photographs, posters, publications, scrapbooks, student papers, sketch books, a videotape, and drafting tools.
The collection includes several scrapbooks. They include clippings, brochures, correspondence, greeting cards, programs, memorabilia, and photographs. Several of the scrapbooks pertain to Howland's family, CH2M engineering projects, Howland's artwork, and awards he received. One of the scrapbooks was prepared to commemorate the Howlands' 50th wedding anniversary in 1991. Another scrapbook includes about 115 color photographs of the 50th reunion of the Class of 1938, held in 1988. Two of the scrapbooks document Howland's military service in Saipan during World War II; they consist predominintly of photographs (about 220 images) and sketches by Howland. Loose photographs in the collection depict Howland's military service during World War II (20 photographic prints and Oregon bridges (154 color slides), which were the subject of much of Howland's artwork. A videotape recording (VHS format) of a presentation by Howland about CH2M Hill is included in the collection.
Materials from Howland's student years at Oregon State include papers and class notes, a survey map for a student project, and posters promoting student dances.
Howland's records of the work of the Corvallis Riverfront Commission and the Riverfront Enhancement Task Force are part of the collection as well as the Oregon State Class of 1938 reunion committee for 1963-2003.