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Helen Pearce papers

Identifier: WUA107

Scope and Contents

The Helen Pearce papers consist primarily of photographs of Willamette University's campus dating from approximately the 1950s; photographs of herself from around the same time; and photographs of May Weekend from the early 20th century, possibly from her time as a student. Other material includes her diplomas and certificates granted by Willamette University; her transcripts; a letter from her father, George J. Pearce, to Willamette President John Coleman in 1906 regarding a spade contributed by his company to break ground on the Kimball School of Theology; an unbound copy of Helen Pearce's dissertation; and various Willamette programs.


  • 1894-1958


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections.

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.

Biographical / Historical

Helen Pearce was born October 19, 1890 in Salem, Oregon. She attended Willamette University, graduating in 1915. Pearce went on to earn a master's degree in 1926 from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts and a doctorate in English literature in 1930 at the University of California, Berkeley.

Pearce taught English at Willamette from 1920 to 1955 while also earning her advanced degrees. She became the first woman graduate of the university to earn a doctorate. She was a scholar on the writings and reputation of Alfred Lord Tennyson, who was the subject of her dissertation, and attended the Tennyson Society dinner in England in 1969. She served as the head of the Willamette English Department for fifteen years before her retirement in 1955 when she received Professor Emeritus status.

Beyond literature, Pearce was an authority on Salem and Oregon history, co-editing the first 10 volumes of Marion County History and the 100th anniversary history of the Salem First Presbyterian Church. She also edited the augobiographies of Willamette President Carl Gregg Doney and Professor James T. Matthews.

In addition to her pursuits as a scholar, she was a charter member of the Salem branch of the American Association of University Women and the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Helen Pearce died on November 11, 1978 in Salem, Oregon.


.5 Linear Feet (1 box)


The papers of Helen Pearce include photographs of Willamette University's campus and other subjects, her dissertation, and documents relating to her life and time attending and teaching at Willamette.


This collection is primarily arranged by material type.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library
Guide to the Helen Pearce papers, 1894-1958
Finding aid processed by Amber J. D'Ambrosio.
© 2017
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States