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Karl Onthank family papers

Identifier: Ax 622

Scope and Contents

The Karl Onthank family papers consist of Onthank family history and genealogy, Karl Onthank's diaries from 1900 to 1911, his correspondence from 1895 to 1967, and various of his manuscripts, speeches, subject files, and memorabilia. The collection also contains Onthank family correspondence from 1829 to 1969, diaries of Alton W. Onthank and Elizabeth Buell Onthank (Karl Onthank's parents), manuscripts of Ruth M. Onthank, family memorabilia, and photographs. The correspondence is arranged in chronological order.


  • Creation: 1829-1969


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

Born in Vineland, New Jersey in 1890, Karl Onthank moved to Hood River, Oregon with his family when he was thirteen. He entered the University of Oregon in 1909 and graduated in 1913. Onthank married Ruth McLaren in 1915. After a brief period during which he worked as a school teacher, principal, and superintendent in Hood River and Tillamook, Oregon, Onthank joined the University of Oregon staff in 1916 as executive secretary to President Prince Lucien Campbell. From 1924 to 1926 he was one of three members of an administrative team which took over during President Campbell's illness and began the search for his successor.

In 1930 Onthank was named dean of personnel administration for the university. In 1948 he became associate dean of students in charge of job placement, a position he held until his retirement in 1957.

Besides serving the university for many years, Karl Onthank was a lifelong conservationist. He and Ruth McLaren Onthank were active members of many conservationist groups and worked on various projects, such as the Oregon Dunes National Park. Karl Onthank died in 1968.

For Onthank's conservation papers see collection Ax 356.


7.5 linear feet (5 containers)

Language of Materials



Karl Onthank worked on the staff of the University of Oregon from 1916 to 1957. Onthank and his wife, Ruth, were active conservationists. The collection consists of family history and personal correspondence, manuscripts, and photographs.


The collection is organized into the following series: Series I. Karl W. Onthank files; Series II. Onthank family files.

Related Materials

Karl Onthank conservation Papers, Ax 356, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, OR.

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.


Guide to the Karl Onthank Family Papers
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Finding aid written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA