Historic photos, documents of Oregon conservationists digitized, will tour the state

man near tree branch

William Finley feeding a bird.

Oregon State University has collaborated on a digital project that is making 40 years of Oregon wildlife conservation photos and documents available to the general public.

The new digital collection features photographs and manuscripts by noted conservationist William L. Finley, his wife Irene and friend Herman T. Bohlman. Finley’s interest in wildlife conservation began when he and Bohlman, a boyhood friend, began photographing birds around Oregon at the turn of the 20th century. Together their work was crucial in helping establish wildlife refuges in Oregon.

The Oregon Historical Society’s Davies Family Research Library and Oregon State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Research Center worked together to digitize a large array of documents related to that work, including photographs, manuscripts, publications, correspondence and other materials. The project began in July 2016 and will be completed by June 30, 2017, and will include approximately 6,500 photographs and 8,600 pages of manuscript material.

In addition to the online collection, the work will be shown at lectures around Oregon in late April through early June.

The project, “Reuniting Finley and Bohlman,” is funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through its Library Services and Technology Act grant program. Many of the photographs and documents are already available on the project’s digital collection website at http://oregondigital.org/sets/finley-bohlman.

The photographs include Finley and Bohlman’s trips to Malheur Lake, the Klamath Lakes and Three Arch Rocks on the Oregon coast – and these photographs played a key role in President Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to create wildlife refuges at those locations.

The public lecture and slide presentation, “On the Road with Finley and Bohlman,” started in Burns, Oregon, on April 25 and will also be offered at these locations:

  • May 13 – Oregon State University, Valley Library’s Willamette Rooms, Corvallis, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • May 14 – Netarts Community Club, Oceanside, 2-3:30 p.m.
  • June 7 – Oregon Historical Society, Portland, 6:30-7:30 p.m.


More information about these lectures is available at http://www.ohs.org/finley.

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