Historical Inquiry

Purpose of Historical Inquiry

The Building and Place Name Evaluation Process is an assessment of the “context” of a building namesake’s life and legacy. This assessment takes place through historical inquiry and community engagement. Historical inquiry informs community engagement – the community must learn about the lives and legacies of the building namesakes to determine how best to demonstrate OSU’s values through the naming of its buildings and places.

Process and Outcomes

A team of scholars, consisting of both OSU faculty and an external scholar, assessed available primary and secondary sources regarding the lives and legacies of Benjamin Arnold, Joseph Avery, Thomas Hart Benton and A.T. "Slats" Gill. The team produced individual historical analysis reports regarding Arnold, Avery, Benton and Gill and their related buildings. The historical inquiry process, coupled with input from the community, informed the Building and Place Name Evaluation Workgroup and Architectural Naming Committee, in providing recommendations to President Ray.

The historical analysis reports include:

The historical information gathered will also be used to create ongoing community education and engagement opportunities as recommended by the Building and Place Name Evaluation Workgroup and Architectural Naming Committee


The research team used a variety of historical resources, which are housed in a variety of locations, including the OSU Special Collections & Archives Research Center (SCARC), home to the university’s unique collections of manuscripts, archives, photographs, digital records and books. For more information, see the SCARC OSU Buildings History - SCARC Archival Resources online guide. While some materials are available online, the majority are only accessible by an in-person visit to conduct research in SCARC, located in the Valley Library, room 5069.