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Ethel Nestell Fortner papers

Identifier: Coll 182

Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, biographical material, subject files, reviews, publications, scrapbooks, manuscripts by others, audio and reel-to-reel tapes, books, and photographs.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically (1964-1980) and includes both personal and business letters.

The manuscript series is separated into sections. The first section is book-length manuscripts comprised of Fortner's poem collections and the second section is made up of single poems with a few illustrations. The first two sections contain both published and unpublished poetry, drafts, revisions, and background material. The third section contains lectures and articles, and the fourth contains reviews by Fortner. All material is organized alphabetically by title. There is also one folder of manuscripts and publications by Larry (Lawrence) Fuller. The fifth section contains material for "New as a Wave," a book by Eve Triem that Fortner compiled and edited. This section contains poetry manuscripts by Eve Triem, sketches and illustrations by Fortner, and a transcription of an interview between Eve Triem and Kathryn Kaye, who acted as the book’s promoter.

The subject files series contains files on poets, publishers, editors, organizations and periodicals, and are organized alphabetically.

The reviews series consists of reviews of Fortner's work.

The publications series consists of publications that contain Fortner's poetry, or publications that Fortner edited or compiled. This series is arranged alphabetically by title of publication.

The manuscripts by other authors series contains manuscripts that were sent to Fortner for her criticisms, suggestions and editorial skill, and are arranged alphabetically by author.

Also included in the collection are scrapbooks that contain poems by others and poetry by Lawrence Fortner, biographical files, publicity files, interviews, photographs, and books written by or edited by Fortner, as well as anthologies that contain her work.

Fortner, Eve Triem, Ogden Nash, and Ron Bayes are represented on reel-to-reel and cassette tape interview recordings.

Photographs include pictures of Ethel and Lawrence Fortner, Eve Triem, and William Stafford.


  • 1958-1986


Conditions Governing Access

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. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and 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.

Biographical / Historical

Ethel Nestell Fortner (1907-1987) was born in Aspen, Colorado in February 11, 1907. The second of six children of Sam and Ida Nestell, Ethel was raised in the small mining towns of eastern Colorado. She attended public schools in Glenwood Springs. After fraduating from high school Ethel attained a provisional teacher's certificate, and at the age of nineteen began her teaching career in a one-room log schoolhouse. After two years of teaching she wpent on year (1927-1928) at Western States College in Gunnison and earned a lifetime certification to teach in Colorado. She then taught in a Colorado Mining Camp.

Believing that she could do better, Ethel Nestell came to Oregon in 1931. She accepted a teaching position at the Oregon School for the Blind in Salem and stayed there for twelve years, eventually becoming principal of the school. In 1937 she married fellow teacher Lawrence Fortner. She received her BA in psychology from the University of Oregon, also in 1937, by attending summer school and extension classes. She left her position at the State School for the Blind to become Vision Supervisor in the Oregon State Department of Education. After WWII she resigned that jog to join her husband in Seattle where he was working for the Veteran's Administration.

After a year in Seattle, the Fortners settled on a farm near Estacada, Oregon, and Ethel returned to teaching. She taught school and worked as a school administatro until she retired thirteen years later.

Retirement gave Fortner the opportunity to pursue other interests, especially water color painting and poetry. Although she ahd begun writing poetry in 1927, she was not published until 1962, when her poem "December Morning" was printed in the Oregonian newspaper. From that time on, over two hundred of her poems were published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. She also published four collections of poems. Recognition of her talent came in the form of several awards, including first place in the Oregon State Poetry Association contest in 1964 and the "Voice of the Year" publication awards in 1967. Ethel Fortner died on April 16, 1987.


21.5 linear feet (41 containers)

Language of Materials



Ethel Nestell Fortner (1907-1987) was a teacher, principal, and poet. The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, biographical material, subject files, reviews, publications, scrapbooks, manuscripts by others, audio and reel-to-reel tapes, books, and photographs.


Collection is organized into the following series: Correspondence, Manuscripts, Subject Files, Reviews, Publications, Manuscripts by Others, Publicity, Scrapbooks, and Volumes.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.

Physical Description

41 clamshell boxes

Processing Information

Collection processed by Robert Charbonneau, 1992.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Ethel Nestell Fortner Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team and Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA