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Robert C. Notson papers

Identifier: WUA001

Scope and Contents

The Robert C. Notson papers consist of correspondence, writings, speeches, clippings, photographs, and scrapbooks dating from 1915 to 2003. 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.


  • 1915-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1990


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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 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.

Biographical / Historical

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, the 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.


5.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes and 12 scrapbooks)


The Robert C. Notson papers consist of the personal and professional papers of 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 the 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.


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.

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.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Custodial History

Jane (Notson) Gregg and Ann (Notson) Poling, daughters of Robert C. Notson

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated to Archives and Special Collections by Jane N. Gregg, Executor of the Estate of Robert C. Notson and the Estate of Adelia W. Notson on June 26, 2006.

Related Materials

Ralph W. Barnes papers

Robert Blanding Beta Theta Pi collection

Processing Information

Processed in 2006.
Guide to the Robert C. Notson papers, 1915-2003
Finding aid processed by Julie Sparks.
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