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Reuben P. Boise family papers

Identifier: WUA012

Scope and Contents

The Reuben P. Boise family papers consist of letters, speeches and writings, legal documents, and photographs. There are letters to and from Boise, his first wife Ellen Francis Lyon Boise, Matthew Deady, Asahel Bush, and Senator B. F. Harding. The writings and speeches appear to have all been authored by Reuben P. Boise. The speeches cover a wide range of subjects including tariffs, the history of the Jason Lee house, the legal system in Oregon, and slavery. Included among the legal documents is a copy of Reuben Boise 2nd’s will.

The collection also contains photographs of Boise family members as well as people such as Asahel Bush, Matthew Deady, Senator B. F. Harding and others. A collection of postcards of California includes places such as San Francisco and San Diego.


  • 1805-1937


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The 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

Reuben Patrick Boise (pronounced ‘Bois’) was born in Blandford, Massachusetts on June 9, 1818 or 1819 (there is some confusion as to the correct year). He was raised on his father's farm, attended public schools, and took a classical course at Williams College, from which he graduated with honors in 1843. Following graduation, he taught school for two years in Missouri and then returned to Massachusetts where he read law with his uncle, Patrick Boise, who was a distinguished lawyer in Westfield. After three years' study of the law, he was admitted to the bar in 1848, and began to practice in Chicopee Falls, where he remained two years. He immigrated to Oregon in the fall of 1850, via the Isthmus of Panama.

He began his law practice in Portland, but moved to Polk County in 1852. During the next fifty-two years Boise served as the prosecuting attorney for Districts 1 and 2, covering most of the Willamette Valley; represented Polk and Tillamook counties in the Territorial Legislature; helped codify Oregon’s laws; was the democratic delegate to the Oregon Constitutional Convention; and served on the Territorial and Oregon State Supreme Court for seventeen years. He was elected a state circuit court judge in 1880, served until 1892 and then entered private legal practice for eight years. Boise returned to the circuit court in 1898 where he served until his retirement in July 1904. Boise died on April 10, 1907.

Boise married Ellen Francis Lyon, of Boston Massachusetts, in 1852 and the couple had three sons: Reuben P., Whitney L., and Fisher A. Ellen died in 1865. In 1867, Boise married Emily A. Pratt, also from Massachusetts. They had two daughters, Ellen S. and Mae E. Emily Pratt Boise died in March, 1919.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


Papers of the Reuben P. Boise family include letters, Boise family legal documents, speeches, essays and other documents related to the Boise family. A collection of travel postcards and photographs of family and friends are also in the collection.


The collection is arranged in the following series: Series I: Boise family papers, 1819-1932; Series II: Photographs and travel postcards. Series I is divided into subseries by family members. The subseries are arranged alphabetically and documents are arranged chronologically within each folder.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Related Materials

Asa Culver Collection, Five College Archives & Manuscript Collections

Separated Materials

The photographs have been removed from the collection for preservation purposes. They are available upon request.
Guide to the Reuben P. Boise family papers, 1819-1932
Finding aid processed by Rose Marie Walter.
© 2008
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