Archives & Documents

A Treasure Trove of History

Primary Documents

The Aurora Colony Historical Society houses a collection of personal letters, land and business records, music manuscripts and several thousand photographs that document life in the Aurora Colony.  Researchers may utilize the library’s resources or submit questions to the Curator.  Materials are constantly being collected that enhance our understanding of life within one of America’s most successful communal societies.

Scholarly Research

While many topics concerning the colony have been researched much is still required. Scholars have not as yet tapped into the majority of new documents that have been uncovered in recent years.  Some examples of researchers and their projects are available for your review.

A Colony Historian: William Bek

William Bek was a professional historian who visited the Bethel Colony in 1909 and wrote an appraisal of life with Dr. Keil’s Colony.  His full account was published in 1909 and 1910 editions of The German American Chronicles under the title of “The Community at Bethel, Missouri, and Its Offspring at Aurora, Oregon”  Start with the New Series, Vol 7, No. 5 September and October 1909. Bek’s work included the first translation of Dr. Keil’s letters from the Oregon Trail.  The originals are not currently located, though he had access to them.

A Colony Historian: Clark Moor Will

Cornelia Marvin, the Oregon State Librarian in the 1920’s, called Clark Moor Will’s personal notes “the missing link of Oregon history”.  It was Mr. Frederick Woodward Skiff who urged Clark Moor Will to jot down as much as possible of the conversations specially that of historical bearing saying “those friends of your father may not be with us much longer.”  From those days on he wrote and treasured many remarks made by the ex-colonists of which his foster mother and father were two.