Image: Guide to the Robert C. Notson papers
Guide to the Robert C. Notson papers
Robert C. Notson papers
Professional Files
Personal Files

Guide to the Robert C. Notson papers


Guide to the Robert C. Notson papers


Consists of the personal and professional papers of Robert C. Notson, journalist, editor and publisher of The Oregonian from 1925 to 1975 and long-time Willamette University Board of Trustee member. The collection also contains materials related to his involvement in the Society of Mayflower Descendants and scrapbooks of Notson’s life as well as scrapbooks belonging to his wife, Adelia (White) Notson, and daughter, Jane (Notson) Gregg, documenting their respective experiences while students at Willamette University.

Source Format

Collection Guide





Willamette University University Archives and Special Collections

Repository Address

900 State Street; Salem, Oregon; 97301 USA ; Phone: 503/370/6764; Fax: 503/370/6141 ; Email:; URL:

Location of Collection

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Collection Number



Materials are in English.


The papers are organized into four series: I. Professional, II. Monographs, III. Personal and IV. Scrapbooks. These series have been further organized into subseries, which are described in detail below.; Specific arrangements for each series and subseries are described in the series descriptions below. Folders largely maintain original order. There is a certain amount of subject overlap between series as well as duplicate materials in various folders. Researchers are encouraged to examine the entire collection in order to cover all material addressing their interest.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Carver Notson was born in Lexington, Oregon on December 28, 1902, to Samuel Edward Notson (1867-1937) and Mary Ann Notson (nee Nelson), a family whose ancestors came to North America on the Mayflower. He attended grade school in Heppner, Oregon, and high school in Salem, Oregon. Notson’s career in journalism began at age twelve when he edited and printed a community newspaper, The Heppner Budget. While at Salem High School, Notson served as editor of The Clarion newspaper and The Clarion Annual. After graduating in 1920, he enrolled at Willamette University, where he wrote for The Collegian and edited The Wallulah yearbook his junior year. During his senior year Notson served as news editor of The Oregon Statesman. Notson also participated in debate teams both in high school and college and toured nationally with Willamette’s debate team. Notson’24 married classmate Adelia White’25 on June 5, 1926, and they had two children, Jane (Notson) Gregg ‘54 and Ann (Notson) Poling’57.

After graduating from Willamette Notson attended Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City, and then worked for the Brooklyn Eagle. He returned to Portland and was hired by The Oregonian to cover the Rose Festival in June of 1925, the start of a 50-year career at that newspaper.

Beginning as a reporter in 1925, Notson moved to the position of Assistant Night City Editor in 1933. In 1934 he was promoted to Night City Editor, a position he held for two years before moving up to City Editor in 1936. In 1941 Notson was made Managing Editor. From this position he moved to Executive Editor in 1965 and in 1968 he became the publisher of The Oregonian, which position he held until his retirement in 1975.

While at The Oregonian, Notson also served on various committees and boards. He was director of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) from 1962 to 1968 and served as president from 1966 to 1967, during which time he had occasion to meet with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House. He was President of Willamette University’s Alumni Association in 1930 and served on the Board of Trustees from 1931 to 1971 (vice president from 1958 to 1971), later honored as a Willamette University Life Trustee. He served as a board member of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association (APMEA) from 1959 to 1965 and he was a member of the Advisory Council of the University of Oregon Health Sciences Center (UOHSC) after his retirement from The Oregonian. In his capacity as a Mayflower descendant, Notson was an active participant in both the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) and the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Oregon (SMDSO), serving, among other roles, as deputy governor and program chair of the latter organization.

Notson received many honors during his life time. He was given the Oregon Newspaper Association’s Voorhies Awards in 1974 for his outstanding contributions to journalism. He was made an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Willamette University in 1971. He also received the Les Sparks Medallion from Willamette’s Alumni Association in 1994, in recognition of his years of loyalty and service to the University.


1.75 linear feet

Content Description

The Robert C. Notson papers consist of correspondence, writings, speeches, clippings, photographs, and scrapbooks dating from 1905 to 1999 and measuring 1.75 linear feet. The bulk of the materials are from the 1960s through the 1980s and document his career in journalism, including serving as editor and publisher of The Oregonian newspaper and president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The collection also includes files relating to his position on Willamette University’s Board of Trustees

his involvement in the Society of Mayflower Descendants

family correspondence (1945-1948)

family photographs

his retirement

correspondence and speeches relating to the book he authored, "Making the Day Begin," and the book he co-edited with his wife, Adelia (White) Notson, "Stepping Stones: The Pilgrims Own Story." Many of Notson’s speeches and writings have handwritten annotations and include such topics as Watergate, prayer in schools, and social security. Also included in the papers are scrapbooks documenting Notson’s career and scrapbooks belonging to his wife, Adelia (White) Notson, and his daughter, Jane (Notson) Gregg, documenting their respective experiences as Willamette University students.


Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous) (1913-1994)


The Oregonian

General Society of Mayflower Descendants

Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Oregon

Associated Press Managing Editors Association Journalism

Publishers and Publishing

Special Collections

Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.; For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library.; Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.


Finding Aids


Robert C. Notson papers