3.7 cubic feet (8 boxes, including 3 oversize
The Gifford Collection Documentary
Materials consist of paper records, artifacts, and ephemera documenting
the Gifford Family's activities as photographers in Oregon. The Gifford
Family included four notable Oregon photographers spanning three
generations: Benjamin A. Gifford; his son, Ralph, and Ralph's wife, Wanda;
and Ralph and Wanda's son Ben L. Gifford.
Oregon State University
Funding for encoding this finding
aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the
The Gifford Family is considered Oregon's first family of photography.
Beginning in 1888, when Benjamin A. Gifford emigrated to Portland from
Kansas, they began a photographic tradition that lasted into the 1950s and
spanned three generations. Benjamin A. Gifford worked as photographer in
Portland and The Dalles, Oregon, from the late 1880s until about 1920,
when his son Ralph took over his studio in Portland. In 1936, Ralph became
the first photographer of the newly established Travel and Information
Department of the Oregon State Highway Department, a position he held
until his death in 1947. After her husband's death, Wanda Muir Gifford
took over the family's photography business and continued to take and sell
photographs through the mid-1950s. Ben L. Gifford, the son of Ralph I. and
Wanda Gifford, joined his mother in the family's business in early 1950s
and also worked for a Salem photography studio from 1951 until 1955. Three
generations of Gifford photography began to come to a close when Ben took
an engineering job with the State Highway Commission in 1955.
The Gifford Collection Documentary Materials consist of paper records,
artifacts, and ephemera documenting the Gifford Family's activities as
photographers in Oregon. The documentary materials include biographical
information on each photographer and other family members, business
records, publications that include Gifford photographs, technical manuals
and catalogs for photographic and motion picture equipment, artifacts, and
ephemeral materials created for the Giffords' photography business. The
ephemeral items include envelopes, invoices and order forms, business
cards, and labels. The bulk of the business records is correspondence with
magazines, other publications, and stock houses regarding purchase and use
of Gifford images. A descriptive booklet about the Fred Archer School of
Photography in Los Angeles is also included.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation :
Gifford Collection Documentary Materials (P 218-SG 7), Oregon State
University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.
The Gifford Collection Documentary Materials are arranged in 9 series:
I. Gifford Family Biographical Information, 1897-1996; II. Business
Records, 1926-1957; III. Fred Archer School of Photography Information
Booklet, circa 1950; IV. Publications with Gifford Photographs, 1902-1987;
V. Technical Manuals and Equipment Catalogs, circa 1937 - circa 1953; VI.
Signs, circa 1940; VII. Oil Portrait of Ralph I. Gifford, circa 1940;
VIII. Ephemera, circa 1905 - 1964; and IX. Artifacts, circa 1936-1947.
Custodial History :
The materials were donated to the Oregon State University Horner Museum
in 1986 by Ben L. and Beth Gifford.
Acquisition Information :
The materials were transferred from the Oregon State University Horner
Museum to the University Archives in July 1996.
The Archives holdings include several collections documenting
photography instruction at Oregon State, including the
McDole Papers and the John Garman Photographic Collections (P
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series I: Gifford Family Biographical
Series I includes biographical information for Gifford Family members
and consists primarily of photocopies that were provided by the family
when the photographs were donated to Oregon State University. The
documents include obituaries as well as news articles and other
compilations of biographical information.
Benjamin A. Gifford, 1929-1993
Rachel M. Gifford, 1973
Ralph I. Gifford, 1946-1947
Wanda M. Gifford, 1989
L. Gifford, 1944-1996
Excerpts, "History and Genealogy of the
Gifford Family in America (1626-1953)", 1984
My Story of the
Last Indian War in the Northwest, 1954
Gifford Family Scrapbook , 1897 - circa 1968
News clippings about Ralph I. Gifford
and Ben L. Gifford, 1944-1947
Series III: Fred Archer School of Photography
Information Booklet, circa 1950
Series III consists of a booklet with information about the Fred Archer
School of Photography in Los Angeles, California, including facilities,
faculty, the 2-year course of study, and admissions requirements. Ben L.
Gifford attended the Fred Archer School in 1950-1951.
Series IV: Publications with Gifford
Series IV consists of publications that include photographs by the
Gifford Family photographers, primarily in the 1940s and 1950s; several of
the publications featured Gifford photographs as the cover images.
Snap Shots on the
Photocopy; see Benjamin A. Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 1) for
Mountain: The Most Beautiful Spot on the Pacific Coast, by Lewis M.
Events Illustrated, March, June
& August 1938
March, June Published by Beaver Engraving Co.
The Oregon State
Employee, August-September 1944
Cover photos by Ralph I. Gifford.
Oregon Tuberculosis Association annual
The Oregon State
Employee; Salem Cherry Festival program, May-June
Cover photos by Ralph I. Gifford.
Along the Union
Pacific Railroad, July
International Evergreen Empire; tourist
brochure on Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, circa 1947
Officer magazine, June
Works magazine, December
The Northwest Calendar for
Oregon: Cool green
vacation land, tourist brochure, undated
Snogo snow removal ad, undated
Undated tear sheets from
Pacific Pathways, National Geographic and unidentified
Series V: Technical Manuals and Equipment
Catalogs, circa 1937 - circa 1953
Series V consists of manuals and catalogs assembled by the Giffords for
photography and motion picture film equipment and photographic processing.
Information about cameras, lenses, and projectors as well as photograph
films, papers, and processing are included.
Formulas notebook, undated
Temporary Strobonar Seven Instructions
(electronic flash unit), circa 1953
Ansco Formulas on
Black and White Photography, 1946-1948
Papers: Their Properties, Processing and Application, 1947
Made Easy (Ansco), 1947
Choosing Film for
Your Camera for Black and White Photography (Ansco), 1947
Made Easy (Ansco), 1947
Book of Formulas
for Eastman Professional Films and Plates, May
Kodak Data Books
Processing, 1946 and
Kodacolor Film, 1947
Shutters and Portra Lenses, 1948
Exposure and Your
Camera, C.I. Jacobson, 1948
Photo filter information, undated
Peerless camera store
Zeiss Ikon cameras catalog, undated
Stanley-Marsh picture frame tools
catalog, circa 1937
Bolex motion picture film equipment
catalog, circa 1941
Bell & Howell Filmosound "Master"
motion picture film projector manual, circa 1939
History of the Cine-Kodak
Eastman 8mm and 16mm home movie
equipment catalog, fall
Secrets of Good
Projection, Frank E. Gunnell, undated
Series VIII consists of materials created for the Giffords' photography
business and includes envelopes, invoice and order forms, business cards,
and labels. Extra postcards and view sets created by Ralph Gifford are
part of this series. Original paper sleeves that housed negatives when
they were received by the Archives are included. Duplicates of a Benjamin
A. Gifford advertisement include color transparencies and color
photocopies made in the late 1990s.
Benjamin A. Gifford advertisement, circa 1905
4 frames of 120 color film
Ralph Gifford envelope from film
business, circa 1930
Ralph Gifford, circa 1940
Covers for Scenic
Oregon Album Prints
Labels for photoplaques
Photo order form
Miniature sets envelopes
Letterhead, Travel Information
Department, Oregon State Highway Commission
Ben and Beth Gifford Christmas card
mock-ups, 1964 and
Photographic products and business
forms, circa 1935-1945
Includes extra postcards, view sets (in envelopes), blank invoice
forms, business cards, and photoplaque labels.
Original negative sleeves, circa 1920-1955
Includes original negative sleeves for photographs made by Ralph I.
Gifford, Wanda Gifford, and Ben L. Gifford.