Walter Meacham papers, 1923-1942  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Meacham, Walter E., 1879-1951Miller, Joaquin, 1837-1913
Walter Meacham papers
8.0 linear feet, (10 containers, 7 volumes)
Collection Number
Ax 065
Walter E. Meacham (1879-1951) was a historian and Oregon Trail enthusiast. The Meacham papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, and a variety of materials associated with the Old Oregon Trail Association and Meacham's promotional activities.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 541-346-3068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Walter E. Meacham (1879-1951) was born and raised in Baker County, Oregon, the son of Oregon pioneers. He developed a fascination with the history of the Northwest, its Native American tribes, and the pioneer settlers who came via the Oregon Trail. This fascination motivated a lifetime of research and writing of Oregon history.

Meacham's father, Joel E. Meacham, served as superintendent for the construction of the famous "Eldorado Ditch", a 100-mile long canal built to transport water from the Upper Blunt River to the mining camp at Eldorado (later Malheur City).

Meacham wrote numerous books and articles on the Oregon Trail and Northwest history, including The Old Oregon Trail: Road Which Saved an Empire, Bonneville the Bold, and Old Oregon Trail: Roadway of American Home Builders. Contemporary critics praised him for his careful documentation of facts, and his attempts to ensure the authenticity of his stories.

In addition to his research and interviewing efforts, Meacham was involved in activities promoting Oregon and the Oregon Trail. He organized the 1923 Oregon Trail Pageant in Meacham, Oregon, which was attended by President Harding on his tour of the west. Meacham founded the Old Oregon Trail Association and served as its president for many years. He promoted development of the Old Oregon Trail as a major highway which would attract affluent eastern tourists to Oregon and the Northwest.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Meacham papers are comprised of correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, and a variety of materials associated with the Old Oregon Trail Association and Meacham's promotional activities.

The general correspondence series dates from 1923 to 1943, and includes letters regarding the American Pioneer Trails Association, the Oregon Trail Memorial Association, other related organizations and Oregon pioneers. Within groupings of periods of several years each, letters are arranged roughly alphabetically by correspondent and/or subject. There is one file containing letters written by Meacham family members, from 1900-1916.

Book-length manuscripts, along with associated correspondence and notes, are followed by manuscripts of short articles and stories. These manuscripts are extremely diverse in nature; some are actually chapters from larger book-length manuscripts (many of the pioneer stories may be found in the manuscript for Wagon Wheels), some may have been designed as speeches or press releases (as with those articles associated with The First Covered Wagons to the West announcing the Covered Wagon Centennial in Portland, 1930, etc. The articles are grouped alphabetically by title or subject. The files with pioneer and explorers' stories are followed by a collection of Northwest Native American legends. There are two files containing a small sampling of "Oregon Trail" and Northwest poetry by Meacham, Joaquin Miller, and others. These poems are roughly identified by subject.

The series containing research notebooks is described by headings Meacham himself wrote on each of his notebooks. As there is little order or logic apparent in the organization of the notebooks, and several subjects appear in a number of different volumes, Meacham's headings prove very useful.

The next series contains materials associated with Meacham's activities in the Old Oregon Trail Association. There is a separate folder of correspondence regarding these events. In addition, there are brochures, pamphlets, programs, magazine articles, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks.

There are six albums of photographs of Oregon Trail related pageants and events that were separated out of the collection for preservation reasons. The photographs are filed under the call number PH106. Photographs document Meacham's interest in the Trail and several Baker County celebrations and reenactments, including one circa 1919 and one in 1943 attended by President Harding. Additional albums include a commemorative album of the 1943 launching of the tanker ship "Oregon Trail'; an album of the SF Pan-Pacific Intl. Expo, 1915; and two albums of Meacham's travels and life in Baker.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Walter Meacham papers, Ax 065, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Papers, 1923-1942Return to Top

4.0 linear feet

Prints (PH106), 1905-1917Return to Top

1.25 linear feet
Meacham, Walter, 1923-1942
Description Dates
Print Titles
PH106_07: [Wood and steel model of Washington Car Lifter]
1.0 mixed
6 x 11 inches
PH106_06: Be kind to your tires by using a Washington Car Lifter [Promotional brochure of A.W. Rademaker of Tacoma, WA, with model].
1.0 sheet
6.5 x 15 inches
Lee., F.J. of Tacoma, WA
PH106_05: John Adrian Rademaker & his sister, Annie Cornelia Rademaker, 1324 South L. St., Tacoma, demonstrating the Washington Car Lifter. [Boy lifting car using device. Accompanying brochure and model of device]
1.0 photographic print
12 x 14 inches
Lee., F.J. of Tacoma, WA
PH106_04b: [Team portrait of 1906 Phildelphia Athletics with Connie Mack. Top of image showing portion of stadium cut away. Pyle image mounted on verso. "Proprty of Chas. W. Furlong]
1.0 photographic print
12 x 19 inches
Pearce, Jos. N. of Philadelphia, PA
PH106_04a: [Pilgrims being addressed by a noble and his guard on the beach. Signed, with sketch of 17th century man] To Charles W. Furlong, with the kind regards of Howard Pyle, March 26th 1907
1.0 photographic print
12 x 19 inches
PH106_03: [Wagon train]
1.0 photographic print
15 x 18.5 inches
Curtis, Edward
not yet assigned
PH106_02: [Wagon fording river, #463-143]
1.0 photographic print
15 x 18.5 inches
Curtis, Edward
not yet assigned
PH106_01: [Wagon train, #512-124]
1.0 photographic print
15 x 18.5 inches
Curtis, Edward
not yet assigned
Print Container List
(7) Prints
(8) Car Lifter, Large Prints

Photograph Albums (PH106)Return to Top

(1) Trail Pageant, 1923
(2) Baker Reenactment
(3) Along the Trail
(4) San Francisco Expo
(5) Nevada/Utah
(6) Launching

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Authors, American--Oregon
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Oregon National Historic Trail
  • Historians--Oregon
  • Indians of North America--Northwest, Pacific--Folklore
  • Oregon
  • Overland journeys to the Pacific
  • Photographs
  • Pioneers--Oregon
  • Pioneers--Oregon Territory
  • Personal Names :
  • Meacham, Walter E., 1879-1951
  • Meacham, Walter E., 1879-1951--Correspondence
  • Corporate Names :
  • American Pioneer Trails Association.
  • Old Oregon Trail Association.
  • Oregon Trail Memorial Association.
  • Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915 : San Francisco, Calif.).
  • Family Names :
  • Meacham family--Correspondence
  • Geographical Names :
  • Baker County (Or.)--History
  • Oregon National Historic Trail--Centennial celebrations, etc
  • Oregon National Historic Trail--Description and travel
  • Oregon National Historic Trail--Photographs
  • Oregon Territory--Historiography
  • Oregon--Historiography
  • Oregon--Poetry
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Correspondence
  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Research notes
  • Short stories