1851 The Oregon territorial legislature passed an act whereby a university would be established at Marysville, which in 1853 was renamed “Corvallis” (a Latin compound meaning "heart of the valley"). Corvallis is within the traditional homelands of the Mary's River or Chepenefu band of the Kalapuya tribe.

1858 Corvallis College, which would become OSU, is founded. A year later, Oregon would become a state. Typical for the times, Corvallis College offered elementary through 12th-grade instruction; there would be no college-level curriculum until 1865.

1862 First Morrill Act, which established land grant colleges, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act offered every state grants of public land to help support colleges of agriculture and mechanic arts.

1865 A Collegiate Department offering a four-year, collegiate-level, liberal arts curriculum was added to the Primary and Preparatory Departments. The new college curriculum required three years of Latin, three years of Greek, three years of mathematics, and a senior year emphasizing ethics, morals and religious training.

1870 First graduating class – one woman and two men – graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees. These were the first degrees granted in the western United States by a state-assisted college or university. The first Bachelor of Arts degrees were conferred a year later. Professor Joseph Emery is elected librarian, and in 1872, he served temporarily as acting president.

1888 Main campus opens and Community Hall completed, which housed a library room. The graduating class includes six women and four men.

1890 The college is a national leader in gender equality by being one of three land grant institutions to offer scientific courses to women. The library of the Adelphian, a student literary club, is presented to the college and becomes the nucleus of the library’s collection, and the first full-time librarian position is established with May Warren. Faculty passed a resolution that no students would be allowed to smoke in buildings or on college grounds.

1892 For the first time, students of the opposite sex are allowed to work and study together.

1899 Student enrollment tops 350 and is the largest of any college in the state.

1904 Approval given by the Board of Regents to allow international students to attend the college for the first time.

1908 Ida (widely known as “Mother” by students) Kidder becomes the university’s first professionally trained librarian after earning a degree in librarianship.

1918 Kidder Library opens — originally named the Library Building, it was renamed Kidder Library to honor Librarian Ida Kidder, who died in 1920 and was succeeded as head librarian by Lucy Lewis.

[1908] When walking became difficult for Ida Kidder, the college’s first professional librarian who was beloved by students, she got around campus in a cart called the wickermobile. (P003)

[1918] Kidder Library after it opened in 1918. That building is now Kidder Hall, which is across the library quad from the Valley Library. (HC0075)

1935 First Ph.D. degrees conferred.

1941 Kidder Library (now Kidder Hall) west wing addition completed.

1945 William Carlson becomes University Librarian when Lucy Lewis retires.

1954 The college library is renamed the William Jasper Kerr Library to honor the longtime OSU president.

1961 An Oregon legislative act changes the name of the institution to Oregon State University. University Archives is founded, and OSU Press is founded and begins publishing books about the Pacific    Northwest.
1963 New Kerr Library building completed, and the old library building is renamed Kidder Hall.

[1945] Lucy Lewis, back row, fourth from right and wearing a hat, with other staff of the Kidder Library, 1929. (MSS Herse)

[1963] University Librarian William Carlson oversaw the construction of the new Kerr Library, and here is with staff as they carry their favorite books to the new library. (HC1932)

[1970s] Kerr Library and library quad, circa 1970s. (P57)

1984 Dr. Melvin George becomes University Librarian.

1986 OSU grad and scientist Linus Pauling, the only person to win two individual Nobel Prizes, designates OSU as the official repository of his papers and medals, which are located in the Special Collections and Archives Research Center in the Valley Library. Pauling was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1963 and the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954.

1990 OSU’s Guin Library in Newport opens at the university’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

1996 Karyle Butcher becomes University Librarian as Melvin George retires, and ground was broken for the $40 million expansion and remodel of the library.
1999 Valley Library expansion and remodeling completed; The Library Journal names the Valley Library its Library of the Year for 1999, the first academic library so honored.


[1980s] Celebrating the one millionth volume being added to the Kerr Library in the late 1980s were (left to right) Senator Mark Hatfield; Mel George, University Librarian; Library Director Emeritus William Carlson; OSU President John Byrne; and Anne Merrifield, chair of the Friends of the Library. (P94)

[1999] The Valley Library’s Rotunda (P083 acc 2004:052)

2001 The Board of Higher Education awarded the new branch campus in Bend to OSU, and classes at the new OSU-Cascades Campus began in September.

2008 Faye A. Chadwell becomes University Librarian after Karyle Butcher retires.

2011 50th anniversary of the founding of OSU Press and of University Archives, which is now the Special Collections and Archives Research Center within the Valley Library.

2019 OSU graduates a record 7,202 students during its 150th commencement ceremony. Remodeling is completed of the Valley Library’s third and fourth floors.
2021 Becky Johnson becomes interim president of OSU and the first woman to lead the university.

[2000s] Karyle Butcher led OSU Libraries and Press as head librarian from 1996 to 2010 and began working at OSU Libraries in 1981.