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Office of the President: Donald Milton Erb records

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: UA 001-007

Scope and Contents

The collection contains records from the Office of the President, 1929-1941.

The collection is organized by accession and as of 2013 there is only one accession.

Accession 10044.A: consists of subject files, correspondence, and a thesis, 1929-1941. Most of the records regard the issues surrounding the Oregon University System reorganization during the early 1930s.

Correspondence includes letters by Register Guard editor William Tugman to UO people and supporters regarding problems with the State Board of Education (1933-1935), and correspondence regarding the proposed reorganization of higher education in Oregon in the Zorn-McPherson bill, especially relating to curriculum.

Subject files include folders of material regarding the "Science Curriculum Controversy" from 1939-1941, reports on the "completeness" of UO and Oregon State as individual universities, and files regarding curriculum issues between UO and Oregon State. There is also a file concerning Oregon State System of Higher Education expenditures from 1940.

Also included here is a Master's thesis by Mathilde Veit, titled, The Oregon State Board of Higher Curricula: A Sequence of its actions relating to the University of Oregon and the Oregon Agricultural College, August 1929.


  • 1933-1942


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. Permanent University Archive public records are available for research, and are subject to state, and in some cases federal freedom of information laws. In compliance with applicable state and federal laws, including, but not limited to, FERPA and HIPAA, specific records that are legally protected, sensitive, private, or confidential are exempt (not subject to disclosure) and closed to protect individual privacy. Access to paper records will be granted after a professional review of the records occurs based on regulations in state and federal laws. Contact Special Collections and University Archives well in advance in order to access these records.

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

Donald Milton Erb served as the President of University of Oregon from 1938 to 1943.

Erb first came to UO in 1927 as an assistant professor of economics, teaching mainly in the field of transportation. He took a year's leave from the university in 1929 to earn a Ph. D. from Harvard. He returned to Oregon in 1930, as a professor of economics, where he stayed until moving to Stanford in 1933. While at Stanford, he served for a year as the acting chairman for the department of economics.

In 1937, Donald Erb was selected to replace Clarence Boyer as university president. The decision was based largely on faculty opinion and preference and made Erb the youngest university president to-date. After several UO presidents who had served relatively short terms, Erb was selected at age thirty-seven, in part because it was believed he would give the university a president with a long tenure.

In 1929, the state legislature created the Oregon State System of Higher Education and the University system in Oregon underwent a reorganization that resulted in classes and programs being eliminated at some colleges to avoid duplication. Many science programs at UO were eliminated. Erb worked to restore upper-level science courses to the UO, eventually seeing his work realized when the state board of higher education approved the re-establishment of major work in pure sciences in 1941.

With the national economy improving somewhat, Erb used his considerable patience and powers of persuasion to gain the return of science classes to the UO. World War II saw students and faculty members depart for military service, but Erb foresaw their return and worked to prepare the university for an influx of ex-GIs when the war ended. In line with this, he also successfully lobbied the state board for funds for a student union building, an idea that had originated with former President Campbell in the 1920s. Erb, however, did not live to see this project completed, as he died of pneumonia in 1943 at age forty-three. The completed student union was named after Erb and dedicated as a memorial to him and to those from the university who served and died in World War II.


0.5 linear feet (1 container) : 1 manuscript box

Language of Materials



Donald Milton Erb served as the President of University of Oregon from 1938 to 1943. The collection contains records from the Office of the President from 1933 to 1942.


Material within this collection has been organized by accession. This organization reflects the fact that the collection has been acquired in increments over time. This organization is also based on the decision not to merge the various accessions and organize them as a whole at this point in time, give the fact that future accruals are anticipated and/or that this organization is deemed sufficient for access.

Researchers should note that materials within a series or accession may overlap and/or relate to materials found in other accessions or initially processed materials. For example, correspondence may be found in all or only some groupings. In order to locate all relevant material within this collection, researchers may need to consult each accession.

Researchers should also note that similar materials can be arranged differently in each accession, depending on how the material is organized upon receipt or during initial processing. For instance, correspondence is one accession may be arranged alphabetically, while correspondence in another accession is arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records have been acquired through occasional transfers from the Office of the President.


Continued transfers of records from the Office of the President are expected indefinitely.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Tanya Parlet, 2013.

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

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal organization and rehousing. Multiple accession(s) for the collection have not been merged or organized as a whole. Each accession is described separately.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents.

Guide to the Office of the President: Donald Milton Erb Records
Complete Description
Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is 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