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University of Oregon

Luella Clay Carson


The first Head of the English Department (from 1888-1909) was Luella Clay Carson, a professor of rhetoric at Oregon and later president of Mills College in California from 1909 to 1913. Her papers can be found in Knight Library Special Collections, including letters from former students and official letters concerning her work at Oregon and at Mills College. There are eight volumes of syllabi, grade books, and memorandum books.  In the first decade of the twentieth-century, she published several editions of a widely-used textbook, Handbook of English Composition: A Compilation of Standard Rules and Usage (currently available in facsimile), English, and Public School Libraries for All the Grades.  Carson Hall is named after her, and a quotation from her adorns the east stairwell in Knight Library leading to the second floor.  In her notes from the archives on “preparation of orations,” she writes, “Settle your beliefs and convictions…and then write from yourself…. The thoughts which are your own—of your own creation and conviction are those that burn—and are full of interest to you and those who hear them.”