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Tabitha Brown Collection

Identifier: MS-113

Scope and Contents

This collection includes several original letters by Tabitha Brown and her husband Clark Brown, transcripts of her account of travels on the Oregon Trail (known as the "Brimfield Heroine Letter"), and other material related to the Brown Family. One notable section of the collection is a set of notes that Tabitha's great-granddaughter Liberta Brown Schoch compiled in the 1930s-1940s, documenting memories of older Brown family members and friends. The collection provides information about: Tabitha Brown's experience as a female settler in Oregon of the 1840s-1850s; early Forest Grove; the founding of Tualatin Academy and Pacific University; Brown family history and genealogy; and Tabitha Brown's husband Clark Brown's activities as a preacher.


  • 1797-2004


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Pacific University owns the copyright to some, but not all, of the materials housed in its archives. Copyright for materials authored or otherwise produced as official business of Pacific University is retained by Pacific University and requires its permission for publication. Copyright status for other collection materials varies. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical Note

Tabitha Brown was an Oregon pioneer and a founder of Pacific University. She was born in Brimfield, Masschusetts, in 1780, and was married to Reverend Clark Brown. Tabitha is well known for her journey to the Oregon Territory in 1846 as a widow aged 66 years old. She travelled with her late husband's brother, Captain John Brown, her children Orus and Pherne and their families. Tabitha, along with some others in her wagon train, split from the established trail and tried a new route to the Willamette Valley, but became stranded in the wilderness. She and her party walked through the mountains, arriving in Salem on Christmas Day. Tabitha later described her experiences in a letter that would be printed under the title, "The Brimfield Heroine." Once in Oregon, Tabitha Brown joined forces with the missionary preachers Harvey and Emeline Clark. The Clarks had settled on the Tualatin Plains in what is now Forest Grove. Tabitha and other Brown family members took land claims nearby. In 1848, Tabitha opened a school there in a log meeting house and took in children who had been orphaned to care for them. The next year, she and several other missionaries transformed the school as Tualatin (or Tuality) Academy, receiving a charter from the Oregon Territorial government. In 1853, Tualatin Academy would add a college division, known as Pacific University. Tabitha Brown is considered a founding mother to Pacific University and was named the "Mother of Oregon" by the 1987 State Legislature. She died in 1858.


1 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



Tabitha Brown was an Oregon pioneer and a founder of Pacific University. This collection includes several original letters by Tabitha and Clark Brown, copies of her account of travels on the Oregon Trail (known as the "Brimfield Heroine" letter), written documentation of Brown family memories, and other material related to the Brown Family.
Guide to the Tabitha Brown Collection
Eva Guggemos
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Pacific University Archives Repository

2043 College Way
Forest Grove OR 97116 United States