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Orion B. Dawson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll 463

Scope and Contents

The majority of the Orion B. Dawson Papers include Drawings and photographs of various iron works that he produced during his time under the Federal Arts Project as well as independently. The collection was organized into albums by the donor, Dawson’s daughter, Dolores Dawson Ford. These albums include Dawson’s sketches, photographs of his public works and photographs of personal pieces given to family and friends.

Additionally, the collection includes various drafts and manuscripts written by Dawson. Included are manuscripts concerning the work of blacksmithing, his opinion and time in the army and his study of voice. The collection contains manuscripts titled The Old Blacksmiths, Why Die that Way, An Old Soldier Speaks out Against the Draft and What to Do About It and Bel Canto and the Aesthetics of Voice.

Along with the iron works albums, the donor also compiled albums of photographs of Dawson’s young life and family. Family photo albums are included in the collection along with photos from his time in the army and his time as a child.

Dates

  • 1917-2009

Creator

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.

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

Orion B. Dawson, born in 1896, was known as a master blacksmith for his iron work across Oregon. His projects include the Dads’ Gates at the University of Oregon, Gates at Oregon State University, the Gates at Timberline lodge and the Doors at Gresham Union High School.

Dawson was born in Arkansas in 1896. After his move to Los Angeles California, Dawson attended Polytectnic High School, studying engineering. This study included experience in blacksmithing and steam hammer smithing. Thus, with the onset of World War I, Dawson was sent to serve the US army as a horseshoer.

With the wars end, Dawson returned to the West Coast, first working in a steel ship yard and then as an apprentice for a metal craftsman. Dawson spent one year studying at the University Of Oregon in the school of architecture before he decided to move to Portland, Oregon and open his own studio.

When the great depression hit in 1929, the US government, though The Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal agency, funded the Federal Art Project. Dawson was one of the many artists employed by the project, aiming to curb the unemployment caused by the depression. Through this program, Dawson was able to build numerous iron works across Oregon, including the above mentioned Dads’ Gates at the University of Oregon, the Cascade dining room gates at Timberline Lodge, gates at Oregon State University and even the gates at the federal building at the New York World’s Fair in 1939.

Apart from his iron work, Orion B. Dawson was also very interested in Performance art and voice. He acted as a public singer for 60 years, even recording some songs. Dawson conducted his own personal study on the use of voice, writing a manuscript titled Bel Canto and the Aesthetics of Voice.

In Addition to Bel Canto and the Aesthetics of Voice, Dawson wrote various other manuscripts concerning blacksmithing as well as his time in the army. These writings include The Old Blacksmiths, Why Die that Way, and An Old Soldier Speaks out Against the Draft and What to Do About It.

Dawson passed away in 1977, leaving behind a legacy of art left for the enjoyment of Oregonians and many generations to come.

Extent

9 linear feet (5 containers and 2 folders)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Orion B. Dawson (1896-1977) was known as a master blacksmith for his iron work across Oregon. His projects include the Dads’ Gates at the University of Oregon, Gates at Oregon State University, the Gates at Timberline lodge and the Doors at Gresham Union High School. The majority of the Orion B. Dawson Papers include Drawings and photographs of various iron works that he produced during his time under the Federal Arts Project as well as independently. Additionally, the collection includes various drafts and manuscripts written by Dawson as well as photo albums of his family and personal life.

Arrangement

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Manuscripts

Series II: Blacksmithing and Metal Work

Series III: Correspondence

Series IV: Music and Performance

Series V: Photographs of Young Life and Family

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Dolores Dawson Ford

Physical Description

2 records storage boxes, 3 flat manuscript boxes, and 2 oversize folder

Processing Information

Collection processed by Marcella Hardin

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

Title
Guide to the Orion B. Dawson papers
Status
Complete Description
Author
Marcella Hardin and Stephanie Kays
Date
2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
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

Contact:
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA