Friday, December 01, 2006

Found! Hazards of welding fumes report

Well, after fourteen months of searching from the Pacific to the Atlantic, we have finally located that item which three people at OHSU and one person in Texas have been seeking: Report of the investigation of fume hazards at the Oregon Shipbuilding Company (Kaiser Company) at St. John's, Portland, Oregon by a special committee / made at the request of the Metal Trades Council of Portland, Oregon, and vicinity.

"special committee" consisted of four faculty members from the University of Oregon Medical School: Joseph Beeman, Norman David, Warren Hunter, and Frank Menne. So, it made sense that we should have a copy of it. There was a typed card representing the report in the faculty publications file, with the note that the report was submitted to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. So, they should have a copy, right? Also, the 1940s were a time at which faculty publications were routinely obtained and bound together into yearly volumes; so it should be in our series of Collected reprints, right? The report addressed conditions at a Kaiser shipyard, so it would probably be in the Kaiser Permanente archives, right?

Condensing fourteen months of research via phone and email, I'll tell you that it wasn't in our catalog, it wasn't included in the reprints, it wasn't available from any other libraries in WorldCat; neither the OSSHE (now called the Oregon University System) archives nor the archives at Kaiser could locate a copy; the Portland Metal Trades Council referred me to the national headquarters, who referred me to the Ramazzini Institute, who referred me to the George Meaney Archives. I emailed the Center to Protect Workers' Rights, the Oregon Historical Society, and the University of Oregon Special Collections.

Where was it found? In the first folder of the first box of the first unprocessed collection that we assigned to our new student on his first day of work. Pretty cool, huh? (Embarrassing that we had not found it to date, sure, but we've had much on our plates.)

Why so scarce? The foreword notes that five thousand copies of the report were printed: "Copies are being sent to every member of the present Oregon Legislature, to every physician and surgeon in Oregon, to the Maritime Commission, to the proper departments of the Army and Navy, to the U.S. Public Health, to the State Industrial Accident Commission of Oregon and the Department of Labor and Industries of the State of Washington, and several copies will be sent to each shipbuilding yard in the Portland area. Also, copies will be forwarded to all unions on the Pacific Coast whose members are employed in similar occupations, as well as to all international officers of the unions affiliated with the Metal Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor."

Not a librarian or archivist among them--except one!

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