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 Photographs by Unknown or Other Photographers consists of images created and assembled by the Gifford Family. They include images for whom the photographer is not identified as well as a few images that were taken by other (non-Gifford family) photographers. Many of the photographs described as "unknown photographer" may have been taken by Ralph I. Gifford, his wife Wanda, or his son Ben L. in the course of their photographic work, but their is not enough information provided with the images to specifically and confidently determine the photographer. The images include portrait photographs; scenic views of Oregon landmarks; and photographs of agriculture, primarily in the Willamette Valley, and public buildings and businesses in Salem, Oregon. Of special note are a set of photographs of Berg's Supermarket in Salem, Oregon, and images of canning and food processing operations for green beans, mushrooms, and strawberries.
Images by other photographers primarily depict Oregon scenes such as the Columbia River Gorge and Highway, the Hood River Valley, and the Fossil Beds. Photographers include the Photo-Art Commercial Studios and the Angelus Commercial Studio in Portland.
Most of the images in this collection (about two-thirds) are prints without accompanying camera negatives; the remainder of the collection is camera negatives. These include 4x5, 5x7, and 120 film negatives and several nitrate negatives. Only a few items have both a camera negative and print of the same image.
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is open for research.Preferred Citation :
Gifford Collection Photographs by Unknown and Other Photographers (P 218-SG 6), Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.
The Gifford Collection Photographs by Unknown and Other Photographers are arranged in two series: I. Unknown Photographers, circa 1915-1955 and II. Other Photographers, circa 1930-1955.
Custodial History :
The photographs were donated to the Oregon State University Horner Museum in 1986 by Ben L. and Beth Gifford.Acquisition Information :
The photographs were transferred from the Oregon State University Horner Museum to the University Archives in July 1996.Related Materials :
This is one component of the Gifford Photographic Collection (P 218) held by the OSU Archives. Other components are: Benjamin A. Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 1); Ralph I. Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 2); Ralph I. Gifford Motion Pictures (P 218-SG 3); Wanda Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 4); Ben L. Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 5); and Gifford Collection Documentary Materials (P 218-SG 7).
Detailed Description of the Collection
176 prints and 86 negatives
Series I consists of photographs that were assembled by the Gifford Family, for which the photographer is not specifically identified and is therefore considered unknown. Many of these images may have been taken by Ralph, Wanda, or Ben L. Gifford, but there is not enough information to confidently determine the photographer. However, similar images of some subjects depicted in these series are part of other components of the Gifford Photographic Collection, which may be helpful in identifying the photographer. The images include portrait photographs; scenic views of Oregon landmarks, such as the Oregon coast and the Cascades; and images of agriculture in the Willamette Valley and public buildings and businesses in Salem, Oregon. Only a few of the images in this series are available as both a camera negative and print.
Series II consists of photographs assembled by the Gifford Family that were taken by other photographers. These include images of Oregon scenes such as the Columbia River Gorge and Highway, the Hood River Valley, and the Fossil Beds.