EOU looking into renaming Pierce Library

After decades of scrutiny due to its namesake’s connection to the Ku Klux Klan, Eastern Oregon University’s Pierce Library may be renamed.

Originally named Walter M. Pierce Library, after the 17th governor of Oregon who resided in Eastern Oregon, the building was renamed in 1999 to simply the Pierce Library to include the contributions of his third wife, Cornelia Marvin Pierce, who was Oregon’s first state librarian.

Walter supported the 1926 ballot measure to fund the Eastern Oregon State Normal School, which would eventually become Eastern Oregon University.

The building was renamed after a committee at EOU was tasked with looking into Walter’s connection with the La Grande Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. According to meeting minutes from the Campus Assembly in 1999, “It was determined that Walter M. Pierce was not a member of the KKK La Grande Chapter, while he did attend a few meetings.”

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