Donald W. Otis papers

Identity elements

Reference code

US US kmk 2017-18.009

Level of description



Donald W. Otis papers


  • 1950 - 1998 (Creation)


54 Linear Feet, 125.00 Boxes

Post-Fire Oversize Extent:
2 Oversize Boxes (16.5x20.5); 509S: 20/30/5

Name of creator


Biographical history

Donald Wayne Otis Sr., born on September 12th, 1930, the son of Walter S. and Mildred J. (Nordling) Otis, in Osage City, KS, had a long career in civil engineering based in Kansas.
While an engineering student at Utah State University, he worked intermittently in grain elevator construction for the engineering and contracting firm of Chalmers and Borton in Hutchinson, KS from 1947-1953.  Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1953, he served for three years as an Engineering Officer in the U.S. Air Force.  In 1955, he returned to Chalmers & Borton as a structural engineer, and became Chief Engineer for the firm (now Borton, Inc.) in 1961.  In 1967, he was brought on as Director of Engineering for the Jarvis Construction Company in Salina, KS.  He founded his own private consulting engineering company, Otis & Associates, in Salina, KS in 1984, specializing in the inspection of grain terminals, elevators, storage, mills, feed operations, processing plants, and bulk handling facilities, as well as the investigations of fires, explosions, failures, and collapses of the same.  He closed his company and retired around 1995.  He died on April 7th, 2005 in Wichita, KS at the age of 74.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Winona on April 29<emph render='super'>th</emph>, 1995, and survived by his children, Donna Jo (Otis) Wilson and Donnie Wayne Otis, Jr.
He was registered as a professional engineer in eleven states (Kansas, Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, & Wisconsin), and was a member of a number of professional organizations, incuding the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE, now ASABE), the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM), the American Society of Non-Destructive Testing (ASNT), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the Kansas Engineering Society, the American Concrete Institute (ACI), and the American Society of Metals (ASM).
His professional honors and distinctions included: selection as the Outstanding Young Engineer of 1965 by the Kansas Engineering Society; selection by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) for the “People to People” Agricultural Alternate Energy Source Delegation to Europe, Africa, and Brazil in 1981; and selection by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for the Materials Handling Delegation to China in 1985.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection includes business records, personal papers, and publications related to Donald W. Otis' professional career as an engineer, consultant and investigator specializing in grain storage, milling and processing facilities, ranging from 1950-1998, with the bulk of material ranging from 1983-1998. Material formats include correspondence, reports, legal and financial documents, photographs, audio and video tapes, slides, blueprints, and publications.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged into seven series based on content and type of material: 1) Personal Papers & Vita, DATE RANGE, undated; 2) Borton, Incorporated, DATE RANGE, undated; 3) Mel Jarvis Construction Co., Inc., DATE RANGE, undated; 4) Otis & Associates, DATE RANGE, undated; 5) Photographs and Negatives, DATE RANGE, undated; 6) Other Media (Audio, Video, Slides, Artifacts), DATE RANGE, undated; 7) Blueprints & Schematics [Unprocessed], DATE RANGE, undated.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Limited access restriction: All materials are open for research, with the exception of the unprocessed blueprints.

Physical access

Technical access

VHS, camcorder, and audio cassette tapes will require appropriate players. Slides and blueprint microfilms will require appropriate viewers.

Conditions governing reproduction

The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

  • Latin

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

It received accession number 2017-18.009.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acqusition Source: Donna Wilson and Donnie W. Otis
Acqusition Method: Donation.
Acqusition Date: 20050801

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


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Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

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Related descriptions

Specialized notes

  • Citation: [Item title], [item date], Donald W. Otis papers, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Alternative identifier(s)

Archon Collection ID


Description control element

Rules or conventions

Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Sources used

Archivist's note

Finding Aid Author: Patrick C. Dittamo
Processing Information: Patrick C. Dittamo, graduate student at Kansas State University, began processing the collection in Fall 2017. Processing was interrupted by the May 22, 2018 Hale Library roof fire, and resumed by Patrick Dittamo in the summer of 2019 in an ad hoc processing space at AG Press, with the assistance of fellow graduate student Amy Wedel on housing photographs and negatives. Blueprints were not processed due to a lack of proper conditions for their processing and preservation; and some final elements of processing could not be completed before the obligatory termination of student employment following graduation. Notes for future processing follow below.

Archivist's note

-Blueprints were not processed due to a lack of proper conditions for their processing and preservation post-fire. Two 15" boxes of blueprints are housed in hanging folders with project numbers that correspond to Otis' project files, and should be in a subseries of project blueprints. Some folders at the end of the second box are not directly associated with project file numbers, and should be part of a non-project file blueprint subseries. The other boxes of blueprints have not been inspected (9 of which were created when three boxes of blueprint rolls were discovered during the packout after the Hale roof fire).

-The extent of the collection will need to be updated after the blueprints are properly housed. Their boxes are not included in the currently displayed extent.

-Locations will need to be updated upon returning to Hale. Boxes #1-57 should reside in G: 2/13/1 through G: 2/16/2.

-ALL folders need to be labelled with their box and folder number, and entered into AtoM.

-Some folders may require the addition of content dates. ALL folders in Series 4, Subseries 7, Subject Reference Files, will require the confirmation/addition of content dates, as the files accrued content during processing.

-Series where folders have not been entered into AtoM already have had their subseries' divided by tabs.

-In the "System of Arrangement" field in the finding aid, all series will need their content dates input after dating of folders is completed. The scope and content may require the dates to be updated as well when final processing is complete.

-NOTE: Boxes #35-57, consisting of small photo boxes, etc. are stored inside pre-firm file cartons with Belfor box numbers 15336, 15338, 15339, 15342, 15347, & 15332. When they move back to Hale from Ag Press, they will need to be removed from their outer boxes, which must be discarded.

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Physical storage

  • Cubic Foot Box: Box 1, A83412047420
  • Cubic Foot Box: Box 2, A83412047412
  • Cubic Foot Box: Box 3, A83412047462
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  • Cubic Foot Box: Box 16, A83412047496
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  • Box: Box 55, A13410590767
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  • 5" Flip Top, Letter: Box 57, A13410590759
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  • Box: Oversize Box, A83412153700
  • Box: Oversize Box, A83412153718