Robert Denison Holmes papers, 1957-1959  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Holmes, Robert D.Oregon Education AssociationOregon. Governor (1957-1959 : Holmes)
Robert Denison Holmes papers
1957-1959 (inclusive)
2.25 linear feet, (5 containers)
Collection Number
Ax 048
Robert Holmes (1909-1976) was governor of Oregon from January 14, 1957 to January 12, 1959. The collection consists of materials related to Holmes' reelection campaign, legislation, and general political correspondence.
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 and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

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

Robert Holmes (1909-1976) was governor of Oregon from January 14, 1957 to January 12, 1959.

Holmes was born in Canisteo, New York in May 11, 1909. After he graduated from Rochester's West High School in 1925, his family moved to Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1932 and married Marie Hoy in 1934. After some newspaper experience on The Oregonian and the Oregon Journal he went to Astoria and managed radio station KAST.

Holmes showed an interest in improving education and served on the Gearhart City and the Clatsop County rural school boards before 1948. He changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and was elected to the State Senate in 1948 and reelected in 1952. In 1953 he was named chairman of the Senate Education Committee by Republican Governor Patterson and won statewide recognition for his efforts to strengthen the state's system of education. Just days after Governor Patterson's death in 1956 Holmes declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He defeated Elmo Smith in the general election.

In his two years as governor Holmes worked at revising state government to make it more efficient and responsive. He created the first Department for Economic Planning. He reduced taxes by sixteen percent and was instrumental in creating new social welfare and education laws. He pressed for improved conditions and wages for workers, for public power development, and for the abolition of capital punishment in Oregon.

After he was defeated by Mark Hatfield in the 1958 general election, Robert Holmes returned to consulting, public relations, and public service. He conducted Portland's KOIN-TV program, "Let's Face It", which discussed issues of the day. He was named to the State Board of Higher Education in 1969 and resigned in 1974. He served on the commission to draft a revision of the Oregon Constitution during 1961 and 1962. Holmes died of cancer on June 6, 1976.


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Materials in the collection cover the term of Holmes' governorship, from 1957-1959. These include offers of support, promotional materials, scripts, and correspondence.

Offers of support are from private citizens and party members.

Promotional materials include press releases, TV scripts, and mock-ups of campaign billboards. There is also a file on promotional dances as fundraisers for Holmes' campaign and an extensive file of promotional materials for Oregon's centennial.

Large files of speeches and radio scripts are included with no discernible filing order. In general, the intended audience of radio station is printed on the material.

Correspondence includes individual files for the Oregon Education Organization, as well as individual files for radio and t.v. stations, educational organizations, professional organizations, and labor unions. There are also separate correspondence files related to legislation from April, 1957 and from January-March, 1957. There is an entire folder dedicated to "Legislation - Retarded Children". Finally, there is a folder of miscellaneous correspondence consisting primarily of personal appeals ot the governor for assistance on issues ranging from suspended driver's license to child welfare, most of which have an attached copy of the gubernatorial response.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Governors--Oregon
  • Political campaigns--Oregon
  • Politicians--Oregon
  • Personal Names :
  • Holmes, Robert D.
  • Holmes, Robert D.
  • Corporate Names :
  • Democratic Party (Or.)
  • Oregon Education Association--Records and correspondence
  • Oregon. Legislative Assembly (49th : 1957)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Oregon--Centennial celebrations, etc
  • Oregon--Politics and government--1951-
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Campaign literature
  • Correspondence
  • Radio scripts