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The Papers of Camille B. Power:

A Guide to the Collection

MSS 61


Documenting the 50-year teaching career and family history of one of
 the original faculty members of Boise Junior College

Camille B. Power
MSS 61, Photo 011

Table of Contents

Biographical sketch
Scope and Contents Note
Series I: Personal Papers
Series II:  Biographical
Series III: Diaries
Series IV: Correspondence
Series V: Professional
Series VI: Travel
Series VII: Writings
Series VIII: Basque Materials
Series IX: Boise State University: 50th Anniversary
Series X: Photographs
Series XI: Videos

Camille B. Power: A Biographical Sketch


Camille B. Power was a member of the faculty of Boise State University from its founding in 1932 until 1967.  She was born in Taylorville, Illinois, to Fred C. and Estella Rockwell Barnett on May 6, 1900.  A few years later her family moved to Cody, Wyoming, where she spent most of her childhood.  In the fifth grade, she won a ten-dollar award for being the most outstanding student.  The family moved from Wyoming to Monmouth, Illinois, in September 1914.

Power went to high school in Monmouth and later received her B.A. degree from James Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.  She obtained her first teaching position at St. Margaret’s School in Boise, Idaho, after her graduation from college in 1922.  In 1923 she married Roland M. Power and moved back to Illinois.  She was widowed when her son, Kent, was two years old.  Power felt that she needed foreign study to be qualified to teach French.  She took her son and went to study in Tours, France, for a year.  When she returned to the United States, she still felt she was not ready to teach so she went to the University of Illinois and earned her Master’s Degree in French, with a minor in Spanish.

In the Spring of 1932, in the midst of the Depression, there were almost no job openings.  Power, however, received a letter from Bishop Middleton Barnwell asking whether she would be interested in a job at the new Boise Junior College.  She had an interview with Bishop Barnwell in Chicago, but he did not offer her a job.  After receiving a letter from the Bishop’s secretary, a personal friend, Mrs. Power was relieved to discover that Bishop Barnwell wanted her to teach but was too embarrassed to offer her the dismal salary of $1200 a year.  With little hesitation, Mrs. Power accepted the position teaching foreign languages at the junior college.  She was the only foreign language student from the University of Illinois to receive a teaching job in 1932.

So after an absence of ten years Camille Power came back to Boise to teach in the same building, but for a new school.  The 75 students in the first class of Boise Junior College and the dozen full-time and part-time faculty members were like a big family.  Faculty meetings were spent putting together the first catalog and establishing rules and regulations for the new school.

Mrs. Power achieved a reputation for offering students high quality education.  During her teaching years, she introduced new ideas and teaching methods that encouraged students to learn a second language.  In 1936, Eugene Chaffee became President of Boise Junior College and asked Power to be the first Dean of Women.  While serving in this position, she helped form a service club, the Valkyries, which functioned on campus until the 1960s. After a few years Power decided to go back to teaching.

During World War II, she was recruited to teach French to soldiers at the University of Idaho for a semester.  This experience prompted her to offer an advanced Spanish class at BJC.  The class met four hours each day and accomplished two years of work in one.  She also established the first language laboratory at BJC so students could improve their conversation by listening to tapes.  At lunch students practiced their conversation skill at the “Spanish Table” in the cafeteria.  For two years in the 1950s she taught French and Spanish to children age five through seven at Campus grade school.  Mrs. Power’s success as a teacher stemmed from her enthusiasm and belief in the capabilities of her students.

One project that she started at BJC was the program of French and Spanish plays.  The foreign language plays staged in 1933 were the first theatrical productions produced at Boise Junior College.  She took on these projects because she felt it was an excellent way for her students to use and feel at home with the language.  She did everything possible to give her students the opportunity to speak the language outside the classroom.  In her biography (Box 1, Folder 10), she wrote “I have been very innovative, always striving to improve my methods and the scope of my teaching.”

The Idaho Statesman honored Mrs. Power with the Distinguished Citizen Award in 1964 for her many years of service to BJC. and the community.  She retired from Boise State College in 1967 as Associate Professor Emerita.  In 1982, she served on a special alumni-faculty committee for BSU’s 50th Anniversary celebration.  Camille Power died on March 17, 1992.  Mrs. Power wrote in her biography: “It has been a unique privilege to have been one of the original members of Boise State University.  In a very special way we feel that this is OUR college; we made it from scratch; we saw every tree and shrub planted on the new campus and every building erected. Few people can claim such an experience; for this I am deeply grateful.”

Scope and Contents Note

Camille B. Power's papers consist of diaries, letters, travelogues, foreign language and Basque study materials, and Boise Junior College history.  The diaries and much of the correspondence are photocopies of papers still held by the Power family.  The earliest materials in the collection are her personal diaries which trace her young adult years, from 1910 to 1922. Both the diaries and her correspondence from France in 1930-31 are windows to the character of this energetic woman.  The latest material is correspondence from Power in 1984.

The papers are divided into eleven series: 1) Personal 2) Biographical, 3) Diaries, 4) Correspondence, 5) Professional, 6) Travel, 7) Writings, 8) Basque Materials, 9) BSU 50th Anniversary, 10) Photos and 11) Videos.  The collection is arranged in five boxes.  More complete descriptions of the series can be found below.  News articles have been photocopied for preservation reasons though a few unique items have been isolated and retained.  Photocopies of the photographs remain in the appropriate files while the photos have been removed to Box 4.

The papers were donated to Boise State University in 1984 by Camille Power.  Her son, Kent B. Power, made some additions following Power’s death in 1992.  In 1980, Power donated six 8mm films to the Archives.  The films are personal home movies of the late 1930's and early 1940's with scenes of both family outings and Boise Junior College activities.  The department has converted the films to a VHS cassette.

The Special Collections Department has other holdings related to the Camille B. Power Papers.  Boise State’s oral history collection contains three tapes of Power (OH #17 and OH #30) describing her life at BJC.  Correspondence from Power to BJC President, Eugene Chaffee appears in MSS 30, Box 2.

 The Camille Power Papers were initially organized in 1984.  They were subsequently divided into series in 1995 for conservation and research purposes.  At that time, the papers relating to Boise State University related materials were indexed on the University Archives data base.

                        Collection number:  MSS 61
                        Inclusive dates:  1863‑1984
                        Collection size:  ca. 2 ft. (in 5 boxes)
                        Gift of Mrs. Power, 1984, with additions from her son, Kent B. Power, 1992
                        Processed by:  Don P. Haacke and Leslie Pass, 1984, and Mary Carter 1995

Series I: Personal Papers


This series contains documents of  Power's family and her personal life.  Included in the collection are letters written by Camille Power’s grandfather, Charles Victory Rockwell (1833-1888), to his wife, a childhood journal of Power’s mother, Estella (Rockwell) Barrett (b.1872), and other miscellaneous papers.  All items are  photocopies.

Power’s applications for teaching positions and contracts are in Folder 4-6.  Of special interest is her original 1922 contract with St. Margaret's School in Boise. Folder 7 contains financial records including a rental agreement for an apartment on Cambridge Square in London.

Power kept memorabilia from events she attended prior to World War I.  Included in the folder is a program from the George M. Cohan Grand Opera House in Chicago, a flier from a wild west show, a program of a chautauqua of Taylorsville, and a handbill from a side show at a fair.

Box 1: Family and Personal Papers

  Folder  1    Family Documents

               2     Charles Victory Rockwell Correspondence 1863-1879

               3     Estella Rockwell Barnett Journal  1884-1870

               4     Estella Rockwell Barnett Miscellaneous

               5     Employment Applications 1931

               6     Educational Records 1929-1965

               7     Teaching Contracts  1922, 1976-1977

               8     Financial Records  1976-1977

               9     Memorabilia

Series II:  Biographical


This series includes reminiscences of Power's early days at Boise Junior College.  These reminiscences were collected for Maude L. Cosho for inclusion in her book, An Idaho Hodgepodge.  Power also participated in the BSU Oral History project (see OH 17 and 30) and contributed the written memoirs of BJC during World War II.  These are  found in Folder 11 along with supplemental clippings.  "Letters Home" is a biography of Camille Power written by Neva Tanner as part of the requirements for an Archives class at Boise State University in 1985.

Box 1 Biographical

  Folder  10  Boise Junior College Reminiscences

               11  Boise Junior College during World War II  1942

               12  "Letters Home:  Account of Year in Tours, France"  by Neva Tanner         1985


Series III: Diaries

Power's diaries (in photocopy form) depict her life before her move to Boise in 1922.  Camille began the diaries at ten years of age.  They describe a life of school work, childhood activities, and her love of books.  The later entries are of her college experience at James Millikin University in  Decatur, Illinois.  Camille participated in many student activities and played on the women's basketball team.

Box 1: Diaries

   Folder   13   Jan. 5, 1911 ‑ May 5, 1911

                 14   May 7, 1911 ‑ July 12, 1911

                 15   1913

                 16   Jan. 1, 1914 ‑ Oct. 17, 1914

                 17   Oct. 17, 1914 ‑ Sept. 30, 1915

                 18   Jan. ‑ June, 1916 ‑ 1920

                 19   July ‑ Dec., 1916 ‑ 1920

                 20   Jan., 1921 ‑ May 22, 1922 and April 10, 1923


Series IV: Correspondence


The first file contains a letter describing Power's work as the personal secretary to businessman and collector, Albert M. Todd, in 1924.  The next several folders contain photocopies of letters Power wrote in 1930‑1931 to her family as she traveled to and studied at the French Institute in Tours.  Each letter details her life for the year, the schooling, the food, and new friendships.  Camille writes of the adjustments necessary to sharing a home with a French family.  Much of the text within letters pertains to her four-year-old son, Kent, who accompanied her to France.

While traveling in Mexico and Guatemala in 1947, Power wrote letters home describing her stay in the Guatemalan ambassador's home in Mexico City and the dinners and parties she attended in Guatemala City with the country's President.

Several of Power's students and colleagues wrote to her with thanks and praise for her excellent instruction. Her knowledge of the Spanish language initiated her interest in the Basque Country.  Her interest coincided with her growing friendship with Jon (Juan) Bilbao, whom she met while helping with BJC registration in 1939.  A refugee of the Spanish Civil War, Bilbao eventually became professor of Basque studies at the University of Nevada.  His correspondence with Power (Folder 8 and 9) is primarily in Spanish.  Power also corresponded with Martin Delegalde concerning the possibility of translating his history of Basques from Spanish into English (Folder 16).  This file is also in Spanish.

Box 2 Correspondence

 Folder  1   Kalamazoo, Michigan  1924

              2   Peoria, Illinois to Tours, France  August ‑ October, 1930

              3   Tours, France  November ‑ December, 1930

              4   Tours, France  January ‑ May, 1931

              5   From Mexico and Guatemala  Summer 1947

              6   Language Courses  1949‑1965

              7   Basque Government in Exile                                          

              8   Jon Bilbao 1950-1983

              9   Basque Studies  1971-1983

            10   Ugalde, Martin de  1971-1972

            11   Miscellaneous

Series V: Professional


Camille Power was the first instructor of foreign languages at Boise Junior College.  As part of her Spanish and French curriculum she produced the first theatrical plays on campus.  The one act plays soon turned into a tradition, "Romance Language Night."  Power served as the first Dean of Women at Boise Junior College.  In this capacity, she planned and attended various social functions as publicized in the clippings found in Folder 13.  Preferring the teaching of foreign languages to the duties of Dean, and after a leave of absence, Power returned solely to the classroom in 1954 until her retirement in 1967.   In 1982, during a budget crisis, Boise State University eliminated the foreign language program as a separate department at the school. Folder 14 contains comments from Mrs. Power and others concerning the action.  Power was active in many community activities. Her academic and civic endeavors meshed in her participation in The Boise Valley Foreign Affairs. Her knowledge of foreign languages frequently established Power in the position of hosting foreign dignitaries visiting the area.  The last two folders of this Series contain articles of interest to Power.  A unique publication, Enduring Value in the Study of French, is most interesting. Written in 1940 after Dunkirk, it advocates the merit of learning a language of an occupied people.


Box 2: Professional

 Folder  12   Boise Junior College; Romance Language Plays  1961-1962                             

               13   Boise Junior College; Miscellaneous Activities  1942

               14   Boise State University; Elimination of the Foreign Language Department  1982

               15   Boise Valley Foreign Affairs  1961

               16   Enduring Value in the Study of French  1940

               17   Miscellaneous Clippings


Series VI: Travel

During her life, Power traveled extensively in Europe and Central America.  This series contains her journal of a trip to Mexico in 1938, and news articles of her trips to Mexico in 1939 and 1947.  Included, also, are narratives of her trips to Europe in 1958 and again in 1968.

Box 2: Travel

  Folder 18   Tours, France; Itinerary  1930

               19   Mexico Travelogue  June 16 ‑ July 6, 1938

               20   Mexico  1939

               21   Mexico  1947

               22   Europe  1958

               23   Basque Country; Itinerary,

               24   Europe  1968

               25   Memorabilia


Series VII: Writings


Power delivered the salutatory oration at her high school commencement in 1918.  Her topic was “America’s New Womanhood.”  In the address, she explained how the war gave women increased opportunities and a greater “feeling of democracy” in America.  Power stated it was time for equal suffrage for “the new robust class working and thinking women.”

Following her year of study in Tours, Power returned home to obtain a master’s degree at the University of Illinois.  As part of the requirements, she wrote French Opinion of America in the Correspondent.  She completed much of her research during her studies in France.  A copy of the thesis can be found in the Albertsons Library’s Archives.  Other than the thesis written in 1933, Power’s writings are arranged alphabetically in this series because several are undated.  The subject matter may enable the reader to estimate the period. 

Power taught foreign languages for the military and incorporated many methods into her techniques for teaching college students and elementary ones as well.  The Marriage of Conde illustrates Power’s ability to translate French, for both the original and the translation are in Folder 6.  She translated an article written by President of Guatemala to English, with hopes that his views would be published in the United States (Box 3, Folder 9).  Her interest in the Basque people is evident in her articles, “Basque Culture” and “Toward a Cultural Revival with the American Basque.”

Box 3: Writings

 Folder  1    High School Salutatorian’s Oration   June 1918

               2    Masters Thesis: French Opinion of America in  The Correspondent    1934

               3    Basque Culture 1974

               4    Batasuna (Unity) by Francois Maspero, translated by Camille B. Power  1970            

               5    Foreign Language in Elementary Schools  1956

               6    Language Training Methods

               7    The Marriage of Conde: Recollections, narrated by Armand Mercier,  translated by Camille B. Power

               8    Modern Spanish: Report of a Questionnaire  1964

               9    “Out of the Mouths of Babes”

             10    Pedalogical Scepticism, by Juan Jose Arevelo,   translated by Camille B. Power   1948

             11    Revitalized Interest in Foreign Language and What We Should Do About It

             12    Toward a Cultural Revival with The American Basques 1972

Series VIII: Basque Materials


Power’s interest in Basque people and culture is found in the collected materials in this series.  Of primary interest to her was the relationship of the United States government to the Basque citizenry as they attempted to gain autonomy.  Her interest in the preservation of Basque culture is at the forefront of the series.  See also Power’s Correspondence files in Box 2 for more correspondence with Jon Bilbao, and the  Basque Studies Program at the University of Nevada.

Box 3: Basque Materials

   Folder 13   United States - Basque Relations:  Frank Church  1970

                14   United States - Basque Relations: Congress  1971

                15   Boise State University - Basque Relations  1975

                16   Boise, Idaho Local Basque Events  1972

                17   Basque Studies at University of Nevada, Reno  1971

                18   Basque Alphabet

                19   Basque Nationalism

                20   Manuscript by Martin de Ugalde  1936

                21   Miscellaneous Basque Articles  1973

                22   Miscellaneous Basque Publications 1982


Series IX: Boise State University: 50th Anniversary


In 1982 Boise State University celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary.  Power served of  the program committee.  She corresponded with several alumni and faculty members whose letters can be found in Folder 23.  Folder 24 contains the master list for participants in the anniversary celebration.

Related material can be found in Manuscript collection 50 (MSS 50): 50th Anniversary Slide Presentation, and in the University Archives, RG 135.2.

Box 3: Boise State University: 50th Anniversary

   Folder 23    Correspondence  1982

                24    Alumni Master List  1932-1940

                25    Related Materials 1982


Series X: Photographs

Both posed and formal photographs of Camille as a child and as an adult are found in Box 4. Photos of her childhood include pictures with her brother, a tea party, with other children, and pictures posed with her many china dolls.  In the collection are negatives of her son, Kent Power, taken in the 1930's.

The photos in this collection document Power’s academic career. The collection contains a negative of her office at BJC, a publicity photo for the Idaho Statesman, a photo of the women faculty of St. Margaret’s Hall in 1932 and one of a BJC Women’s Association Tea in 1937.  Photos of the Language Department’s one act plays are evidence of the melodrama used to convey the action since many audience members were unable to understand the dialog.  A photo of the Spanish Club’s float for Homecoming (1950s?) is also in Box 4. Two photos of the Basques are indicative of her interest in the  culture.  Photos of a visiting Venezuelan delegation are also part of the collection.

              Photos 001-031       5 x 7 inches or smaller
              Photos 101-111       larger than 5 x 7 inches

Series XI: Videos

Camille Power donated with the collection six 8mm films of her personal home movies.  The movies have been converted to VHS.  The movies include activities of Camille and her family and friends as well as Boise Junior College.  Included in the scenes of BJC is the first commencement in 1934, Homecoming 1949, and general early campus views.  Both the original films and the tape can be found in Box 5.

Special Collections • 1910 University Drive • Boise, ID 83725-1430 • Phone: 208-426-1204 • Email: Archives