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Rootworks records

Identifier: Coll 345

Scope and Contents

The Rootworks records collection is composed of six different series of materials. These series comprise of events, correspondence, land administrative records, subject files, water rights, and community documentation.

Rootworks, as a part within a larger network of Oregon women’s lands, includes correspondence to and from other communities within Oregon and nationally, as well as materials from local and national events, newsletters subscribed to, and letters from organizations and individuals. This can help the researcher connect Rootworks, as well as rural Oregon intentional communities broadly, to the larger women’s rights, back to the land, gay and lesbian rights, and feminist separatist movements.

The events series will help researchers see what subject areas Rootworks community members were most concerned with or interested in, how members organized events on the land, and what areas and issues the larger movements were focusing on through conferences, workshops, and speakers. This series is organized alphabetically by event name.

The correspondence series will connect Rootworks to many other intentional communities, as well as provide insight into the different relationships, friendships, and hardships women on the land faced. This series is arranged alphabetically by letter or correspondence name.

The land administrative records series provides resources referred to during the construction process of Rootworks, maps of and directions to Rootworks and neighboring communities, as well as legal and financial information. This series is arranged alphabetically by record type.

The subject file series offers an assortment of resources, publications, and materials on different projects. This series is organized alphabetically by subject name.

The Water Rights series provides insight into Jean and Ruth Mountaingrove’s fight for rights to water on BLM land, which had been used as the only fresh water source by Rootworks for years before BLM served them a trespass notice. This led to a battle over those rights spanning several years. Within this series the researcher can follow the struggle through incoming and outgoing correspondence to BLM, Oregon legislators, Oregon Forestry, and C and D Lumber, the appeal process, as well as information regarding the BLM and Rootworks’ legal information. In addition to this fight for water usage, Rootworks also came into contact with the BLM while protesting their pesticide use and when sections of their water pipe were stolen. This series is split into five subseries: Appeal, BLM, Correspondence, Environmental Resources, and Legal Information. All of these subseries are arranged alphabetically by file name.

The community documentation series includes home movies and audio recordings, including oral histories, created by members of the Rootworks community, a communal diary and guest book detailing farm activities and crop growth, as well as photographs of the commuity buildings and members.


  • Creation: 1966-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1975 - 2000


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.

Collection digital files may be requested through Special Collections and University Archives Reproductions and Permissions Request Form.

Conditions Governing 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 & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival material 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.

Biographical / Historical

The formation of the Rootworks commune occurred as part of the back-to-the-land and feminist movements. During the 1960s and 1970s there was an influx of the establishment of intentional feminist lesbian communities throughout America, and Oregon was home to a large network of these groups. The land was used as a safe, creative, intentional space for women to host events, from retreats to spiritual festivals, a place for women to learn new and useful skills, a refuge from daily patriarchal oppression, and a space for building connections with other women and nature, with an emphasis on personal growth. Materially, these lands went without amenities, including electricity, bathrooms, running water, and heating. Women on the land struggled with fighting their personal battles with sexual, physical, and emotional violence, internalized misogyny, and finding their own identities, while attempting to create an oppression-free space. This led to endless conversations on racism, sexism, and homophobia, as well as the necessity of navigating a community forum in which all issues could be honestly, openly, and equitably discussed. Through communes like Rootworks, women were able to lead a rural and safe life among like-minded women.


9 linear feet (6 containers) : 5 record storage boxes and 1 legal size flat box

Language of Materials



Rootworks was established during the back-to-the-land movement of the 1960s and 1970s as an intentional feminist lesbian commune to provide a rural living space for women to escape patriarchal society, heal personal struggles, and live among an intentional network of women. This collection contains event descriptions, correspondence, legal and financial records, resources consulted in the construction and continuation of the land, personal creative and autobiographical writing, various publications, photographs, audiovisual material, and information regarding Rootworks’ struggles with the Bureau of Land Management.


Collection is organized into the following 6 series:

Series 1. Events, 1985-2007 Series 2 Correspondence, 1979-2006 Series 3. Land administrative records,1974-2000 Series 4. Subject files, 1966-2000 Series 5. Water rights,1977-1989 Series 6. Community documentation, 1975-1992

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Jean Mountaingrove in 2007.

Existence and Location of Copies

Selected sound recordings are available as digital audio files from Special Collections & University Archives.

Related Materials

Other collections relating to Rootworks at Special Collections and University Archives include: OWL Trust records, Coll 342; Jean Mountaingrove Papers, Coll 276; SO CLAP! (Southern Oregon Country Lesbian Archival Project), Coll 266; WomanSpirit records, Coll 346.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lindsey Holman, February 2012. Revisions by Alexandra M. Bisio, 2020.


Guide to the Rootworks records
Complete Description
Finding aid by Lindsey Holman, 2012. Revisions by Alexandra M. Bisio, 2020
2012, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA