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Robert Denison Holmes papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Ax 048

Scope and Contents

Materials in the collection cover the term of Holmes' governorship, from 1957-1959. These include offers of support, promotional materials, scripts, and correspondence.

Offers of support are from private citizens and party members.

Promotional materials include press releases, TV scripts, and mock-ups of campaign billboards. There is also a file on promotional dances as fundraisers for Holmes' campaign and an extensive file of promotional materials for Oregon's centennial.

Large files of speeches and radio scripts are included with no discernible filing order. In general, the intended audience of radio station is printed on the material.

Correspondence includes individual files for the Oregon Education Organization, as well as individual files for radio and t.v. stations, educational organizations, professional organizations, and labor unions. There are also separate correspondence files related to legislation from April, 1957 and from January-March, 1957. There is an entire folder dedicated to "Legislation - Retarded Children". Finally, there is a folder of miscellaneous correspondence consisting primarily of personal appeals ot the governor for assistance on issues ranging from suspended driver's license to child welfare, most of which have an attached copy of the gubernatorial response.


  • 1957-1959


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

Robert Holmes (1909-1976) was governor of Oregon from January 14, 1957 to January 12, 1959.

Holmes was born in Canisteo, New York in May 11, 1909. After he graduated from Rochester's West High School in 1925, his family moved to Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1932 and married Marie Hoy in 1934. After some newspaper experience on The Oregonian and the Oregon Journal he went to Astoria and managed radio station KAST.

Holmes showed an interest in improving education and served on the Gearhart City and the Clatsop County rural school boards before 1948. He changed his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and was elected to the State Senate in 1948 and reelected in 1952. In 1953 he was named chairman of the Senate Education Committee by Republican Governor Patterson and won statewide recognition for his efforts to strengthen the state's system of education. Just days after Governor Patterson's death in 1956 Holmes declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. He defeated Elmo Smith in the general election.

In his two years as governor Holmes worked at revising state government to make it more efficient and responsive. He created the first Department for Economic Planning. He reduced taxes by sixteen percent and was instrumental in creating new social welfare and education laws. He pressed for improved conditions and wages for workers, for public power development, and for the abolition of capital punishment in Oregon.

After he was defeated by Mark Hatfield in the 1958 general election, Robert Holmes returned to consulting, public relations, and public service. He conducted Portland's KOIN-TV program, "Let's Face It", which discussed issues of the day. He was named to the State Board of Higher Education in 1969 and resigned in 1974. He served on the commission to draft a revision of the Oregon Constitution during 1961 and 1962. Holmes died of cancer on June 6, 1976.



2.25 linear feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



Robert Holmes (1909-1976) was governor of Oregon from January 14, 1957 to January 12, 1959. The collection consists of materials related to Holmes' reelection campaign, legislation, and general political correspondence.


The materials are loosely organized into the following series: Offers of Support, Promotional Materials, Scripts, and Correspondence.

Material within this collection is minimally arranged. Any arrangement is either derived from the records' creators or custodians or from staff at the time of initial processing. It may be necessary to look in multiple places for the same types of materials.

Related Materials

The Oregon State Archives holds a Robert Denison Holmes collection.

Physical Description

4 manuscript boxes, 1 legal half manuscript box.

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

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.

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

Guide to the Robert Denison Holmes Papers
Complete Description
Austin Munsell and Kira B. Homo.
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