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Harry S. Stamper, Jr. papers

Identifier: Coll 361

Scope and Contents note

This collection documents the activities of Harry S. Stamper, Jr., a longshoreman, folksinger, and union activist who spent most of his working life in Coos Bay, Oregon. Materials cover the years from 1965 to 2012. Written and graphic documents include songs, fiction, poetry, articles and essays, journal entries, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and performance flyers. Audio-visual documents include full albums, single songs, live performances, and documentary materials in analog and digital formats. Documents contain information on national and regional labor history, occupational health and safety issues, environmental politics in Coos County, Oregon, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, songwriting, folk music revivals, and historical figures such as Pete Seeger and Harry Bridges.


  • 1955 - 2013
  • Majority of material found within 1965 - 2013


Conditions Governing Access note

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.

Conditions Governing Use note

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 note

Harry S. Stamper, Jr. (1944-2012) was born on September 20, 1944 in Roanoke, Virginia to Harry S. Stamper, Sr. and Viola Stamper. After World War II, Stamper's family moved to San Francisco, California, where he began playing music and writing songs at the age of 13. In 1967, he joined the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10. Stamper moved to Coos Bay, Oregon, in 1971 and joined ILWU Local 12. He married Holly Hall in 1985. He was active locally and nationally as a songwriter and folksinger, performing at union events, festivals, and folk music venues. He wrote many original songs about the labor movement, environmental politics, and other topical issues. His song "We Just Come To Work Here (We Don't Come To Die)" was recorded and performed by a number of other musicians, and it was featured on Classic Labor Songs from Smithsonian Folkways. In 1983, Stamper performed at the Great Hudson River Revival Festival at the request of folksinger Pete Seeger. In the 1990s, he performed at the Highlander Center for Research and Education and at the San Francisco memorial for ILWU founder Harry Bridges. In 2000, ILWU president Brian McWilliams invited Stamper to sing at the union’s national convention in Portland, Oregon.

In 1997, Stamper began taking courses in creative writing and poetry at Southwestern Oregon Community College. He retired in 2005, but remained active as a songwriter and community activist. He passed away on March 9, 2012 at the age of 67. His music was the subject of an Oregon Art Beat television profile in 2002 and a documentary "We Just Come To Work Here:" The Music of Harry Stamper (available at the Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore, University of Oregon). His songwriting was also featured in Joe Glazer's book, Labor's Troubadour (University of Illinois Press, 2001).


8.5 linear feet (7 containers) : 4 record storage boxes, 2 manuscript boxes, 1 flat manuscript box

Language of Materials



Harry S. Stamper, Jr. (1944-2012) was a longshoreman and folksinger who spent most of his working life in Coos Bay, Oregon. This collection documents Stamper's musical and literary activities and contains information on regional labor history, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, environmental politics, and other subjects.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Series I: Writings Subseries A: SongsSubseries B: StoriesSubseries C: PoemsSubseries D: Non-fictionSubseries E: CorrespondenceSubseries F: Journals and notebooksSubseries G: School assignments Series II: Personal papers Subseries A: Labor and other work related papersSubseries B: Newspaper articles and clippingsSubseries C: Political documentsSubseries D: Music theory notes and literatureSubseries E: Memorial documents Series III: Family papers Subseries A: Writings by Harry S. Stamper, Sr.Subseries B: Writings by Holly StamperSubseries C: Writings by other family membersSubseries D: Writings by unidentified individualsSubseries E: Family correspondence Series IV: Sound recordings and related material Subseries A: Full albumsSubseries B: Single songsSubseries C: CompilationsSubseries D: EventsSubseries E: Assorted recordingsSubseries F: Album informationSubseries G: Performance notes Series V: Graphic documents Subseries A: PhotographsSubseries B: Promotional material Series VI: Moving images Subseries A: Events featuring Harry S. Stamper, Jr.Subseries B: Events featuring others

Related Archival Materials note

Audio interviews with Harry S. Stamper, Jr. and a documentary film titled "We Just Come To Work Here: The Music of Harry Stamper" are available in the University of Oregon's Randall V. Mills Archives of Northwest Folklore.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Nathan Moore. Text documents, sound recordings, and moving images in digital formats have not been processed.

Guide to the Harry S. Stamper, Jr. Papers
Complete Description
Nathan Moore
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid 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