Guide to the Gifford Collection Photographs by Unknown or Other Photographers
circa 1915-1955

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Gifford family.
Title: Gifford Collection Photographs by Unknown or Other Photographers
Dates: circa 1915-1955 ( inclusive )
1935-1950 ( bulk )
Quantity: 0.5 cubic feet, including 273 photographs (6 boxes, including 2 oversize boxes.)
Collection Number: P 218-SG 6
Summary: The Gifford Collection Photographs by Unknown or Other Photographers consists of images created and assembled by the Gifford Family. Many of the photographs may have been taken by Ralph I. Gifford, his wife Wanda, or his son Ben L. in the course of their photographic work. The photographs include portrait photographs; scenic views of Oregon landmarks; and images of agriculture, primarily in the Willamette Valley, and public buildings and businesses in Salem, Oregon.
Repository: Oregon State University Libraries
University Archives

121 The Valley Library
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331-4501
Phone: 541-737-2165

Languages: Materials in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical Note

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.

Content Description

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.

Use of the Collection

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.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

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

Series I:  Unknown Photographers, circa 1915-1955
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.

12 Electric generating station at night
3 4x5 negatives
12 Profile of a man sitting and drinking
2 4x5 negatives
12 Long shot of a farm
2 4x5 negatives
12 A soldier and his family
5 4x5 negatives
12 Mural in the state capitol
4x5 negative
Portraits of people
62 Tilda and cat
5x7 negative
62 Tilda alone
5x7 negative
62 Pinkey
5x7 negative
62 Baby Hagedon
5x7 negative
62 Colgan boys
4 5x7 negatives
62 Harlan's mother and father
2 5x7 negatives
62 Dalby copy negatives of old photos
2 5x7 negatives
7 Portrait of a young girl
4 prints
7 Portraits of a young woman
3 prints
Two shoulder portraits and one view in swimsuit.
7 Portrait of young woman with lace scarf on dress
7 Portrait of a young woman in a swimsuit
7 Portraits of U.S. Navy officers
4 prints
7 Man standing in front of a wall
Snapshot print.
7 Wedding photo -- Helen Mulkey
Snapshot print.
12 Portrait of an older man
4x5 negative
12 Woman sitting at picnic table built into rock hillside
4x5 negative
12 Woman walking with a child; Mt. Hood in background
5 4x5 negatives
7, 12 Painting of a U.S. Army officer
print and 4x5 copy negative
12 Man standing in front of trees
4x5 copy negative
7 Portrait of an older man
7 Dinner at Silver Falls Lodge, 1947
7 Military officers standing next to Japanese Zero airplane
2 prints
7 Jeeps with rocket launchers in action, World War II?
2 prints
Two men and a woman
7 Eating dinner
7 Holding fish
Perhaps paying for a lost wager.
7 Group sitting is a yard eating watermelon
Photograph taken at night.
7 Young woman with a flower hat sitting in an orchard under a tree in bloom
7 Copy photo of a family group, circa 1900
7 Coos Head Lighthouse at Cape Arago, Charleston, Oregon
7 North Head Lighthouse at Ilwaco, Washington?
7 Man viewing haystack rocks from cliff
7 Skiers at Mt. Hood
2 prints
7 Two women with waterfall in background
7 Hot springs near near Lakeview, Oregon
12 Two girls standing near edge of cliff, Oregon Coast
2 4x5 negatives
12 Man and woman watching waves break, Oregon Coast
4x5 negative
12 Two men fishing in a river
2 4x5 negatives
7 Three people on a dock with their fishing catch
7 Pack horses and riders in a meadow; mountain in background
7 Man and a woman on horseback with dog running in front of them; Mt. Hood? in background
12 Military officers: eating, at logging site, at desks
11 4x5 negatives
12 Man releasing fish at fish hatchery
4x5 negative
12 Painting of a man with a horse and cart
4x5 copy negative
12 Central Oregon river? Three Sisters in the background?
2 4x5 negatives
7 Flag on back of boat on the Columbia River?
7 Trucks on a highway, Willamette Valley, Oregon?
7 Highway embankment near underpass covered with grass and flowers
7 Highway through an unidentified town
7 Applying asphalt on a road?
Close-up view.
7 Laying gravel on a road bed, circa 1921
7 State Capitol
12 State Library Building
4x5 negative
7 Branch of cherry blossoms
7 A young prune orchard on the Red Hills of Marion County
Copy print of published photograph and caption.
12 Old farmhouse
3 4x5 negatives
12 House on a hillside in the woods
2 4x5 negatives
7 Front yard of a house
7 School or state office building
7 Stucco apartment complex
7 Men working a sheep herd, Central Oregon?
7 Hen and chicks
7 Copy print of four cattle photographs
7 Two calves grazing on a field
7 Sunsets
3 prints
7 Onion field
7 Man shocking grain
7 Panoramic view of a farm
7 Boy hoeing a garden
7 Tomato packing operation
7 Blackberry patch at dusk
7 Flower garden
2 prints
7 Scotty tractor with plow attachment
7 Woman driving front end loader loaded with gravel
12 View of creek and mountains
3 4x5 negatives
12 View of trees and mountain
4x5 negative
12 Rock slide or blasting?
4x5 negative
12 Aerial view of forested mountains
4x5 copy negative
7, 12 Basalt formation next to highway
print & 2 4x5 negatives
7 View of lake or reservoir; Mt. Hood? in background
7 Road next to mountain stream; Mt. Hood? in background
7 View of arid lands from mountain
2 prints
7 Pasture, fence and mountains (Steens Mountain area?)
7 Man looking at rock formation, John Day fossil beds?
7 Crater Lake and Wizard Island in winter
7 Boat dock on lake
12 Boat at dock on lake
4x5 negative
12 Deer walking through snow in a forest
2 4x5 negatives
7 Courtroom in a courthouse
Possibly in new Marion County Courthouse.
7 Aerial view of Salem bridges over the Willamette River, circa 1952
7 Aerial view of Willamette River and Salem downtown area, circa 1952
7 Aerial view of south Salem, circa 1940
Capitol and early state buildings, Salem, circa 1915
60 Capitol
2 nitrate negatives
60 Marion County Courthouse
2 nitrate negatives
60 Pioneer monument
nitrate negative
60 Unidentified building
nitrate negative
7 Road under construction?
7 High dam on river in arid area
Snake River?
7 Lake or reservoir in arid area
12 Dog lying on the ground
4x5 negative
7 Three men playing cribbage
2 prints
7 Women diving into a pool
2 prints
7 Young boy in car merry-go-round
7 Group gathered in a living room
7 Man sitting at a desk
2 prints
12 Man sitting in basement or utility room
4x5 negative
7 Woman looking at map of Salem
7, 12 Children and older man in a swimming pool or water tank next to a greenhouse
5 prints and 2 120 negatives
7, 76 Gnarled tree next to beachhouse door
3 prints
7 Family group? at beach, Oregon Coast
5 prints
12 View of coast
2 4x5 negatives
12 Land survey map
4x5 copy negative
12 Large stack of logs
4x5 copy negative
12 Sheep grazing
4x5 copy negative
7 Snow covered cabin
7 Snow covered garden and lawn?
7 Snow covered mountain, Eastern Oregon?
7 River and snow covered bluff
7 Deer hunters
2 prints
7, 76 Barn, corral and men on horseback
3 prints
7 Camp at base of mountain
7 Young boy holding fly rod and caught fish
7 Fishing boats in a river
7 Man holding catch of fish
Berg's Supermarket, Salem
35 prints
Includes views of store interior with and without shoppers including produce, meat, and shelves with canned foods and an aerial view of the store and parking lot. Some of the photos to taken (or printed) by McEwan's Photo Shops in Salem.
Canning and processing operations
7 Green beans, Santiam Cannery, Stayton
8 prints
7 Mushroom growing and canning
7 prints
7 Strawberry processing
2 prints
7 Loading railroad cars with frozen food cases
2 prints
7 Crop dryer
2 prints
7 Cannery building
7 Man in office, December 1946
7 Silage?
7 Boys in a pole bean field
2 prints
76 Welder
76 Southern Pacific steam locomotive going through downtown Salem, Oregon
76 Gnarled trunk of a grapevine?
76 Heceta Head lighthouse, framed by two trees
76 Gem of the Sea, ship in drydock
76 Marina views, Los Angeles?
3 prints

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Series II:  Other Photographers, circa 1930-1955
11 prints

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.

7, 77 The Columbia Gateway: Bonneville Dam and Mt. Hood
postcard print and hand colored mounted print
Copyright 1938 by Samuel Lancaster.
7 Man and woman viewing Columbia Gorge
Photo-Art Commercial Studios, Portland
7 Mitchell Point tunnel, Columbia River Highway
Angelus Commercial Studio, Portland, #59380
7 Apple orchards of the Hood River Valley nestling under the slopes of the eternally snow-clad Mt. Hood
Angelus Commercial Studio, Portland; courtesy Oregon State Highway Dept.
7 Fossil beds, home of the pre-historic three toed horse, John Day Highway, Oregon
Sawyers Scenic Photos #C 12560
7 Bull M M Prince Royal 17
Photograph by Edward J. Saxton, Helena, Montana.
7 Pharmacy? with Ralph Gifford's photomurals
Photo-Art Commercial Studios, Portland
7 Woman harvesting commercially grown mushrooms
Photograph by Joseph Tompkins, Salem.
77 Still life of fruit and flowers
By Charles Conkling.
77 Winter Shadows
Photograph by Ray Atkeson; art print engraving by Hicks-Chatten Engraving Co.

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    • Subject Terms :
    • Agriculture--Oregon.
    • Fruit processing plants--Oregon.
    • Landscape photography--Oregon.
    • Portrait photography--Oregon.
    • Vegetable processing plants--Oregon.
    • Geographical Names :
    • Cascade Range.
    • Pacific Coast (Or.)
    • Salem (Or.)
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Film negatives.
    • Nitrate negatives.
    • Photographic prints.
      • Other Creators :
      • Gifford, Ben L.
      • Gifford, Ralph I.
      • Gifford, Wanda.

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