Guide to the Don C. Foster Photographs
circa 1944-1964

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Overview of the Collection

Photographer: Foster, Don C., 1895-1971
Title: Don. C. Foster photographs
Dates: circa 1944-1964 ( inclusive )
Quantity: .55 cubic feet (1,683 color slides in 2 boxes)
Collection Number: Org. Lot 134
Summary: This collection contains color slides of the Pacific Northwest and Washington D.C., photographed by Don C. Foster and others from circa 1944-1964. There bulk of the photographs consist of Alaskan landscapes, wildlife, and peoples, as well as various locations in the state including the Aleutian Islands, Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Kotzebue and the Alcan Highway. The images also depict Alaskans engaged in a variety of activities from ice fishing, reindeer racing, and walrus hunting to training in hospitals and attending school.
Repository: Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Contact Information: Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
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

Don C. Foster, a long-time resident of the northwestern United States, is notable for his lengthy career in public service with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Born in 1895 near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, Foster attended Oklahoma State University and New Mexico State University. After serving in the Army during World War I, he held several jobs during the 1920s and early 1930s, including managing his father's Oklahoma ranch, acting as superintendent of Floyd Consolidated School in New Mexico, and serving as a county extension agent in New Mexico.

In 1935, Foster began his career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He traveled throughout the country working for the group, beginning in Warm Springs, Oregon as the head community worker, then moving on to act as superintendent of the Carson Indian Agency in Nevada from 1940-1944, general superintendent of the Alaska Native Service from 1944-1950, Minneapolis area director from 1950-1954, and Northwest area director from 1954 until his retirement in 1961. In his final position in Portland, he oversaw the Klamath Termination Act and helped establish guidelines for the sale of timberland. He also assisted in the development of the Kah-nee-ta Resort on the Warm Springs Reservation. In 1959, Foster received the Distinguished Service Award from Fred Seaton, the United States Secretary of the Interior.

Foster died in 1971 at the age of 75.

Content Description

The collection consists of 1,683 color slides of the Pacific Northwest and Washington D.C., photographed by Don C. Foster and others from the mid-1940s through the mid-1960s. Photographs of Alaskan landscapes, wildlife, botany, and peoples constitute the bulk of the collection; most images were created during Foster's tenure as the general superintendent of Alaska's National Service. The collection documents various locations in the state, including the Aleutian Islands, Anchorage, Nome, Juneau, Fairbanks, Kotzebue and the Alcan Highway, and shows the state's Native American inhabitants engaged in a variety of activities from ice fishing, reindeer racing, and walrus hunting to training in hospitals and attending school.

Particularly noteworthy items include images of Russian Orthodox churches in the state, the city of Anchorage after the 1964 earthquake, and images from Foster's trip aboard the North Star, a passenger freighter that traveled to remote coastal regions in Northern Alaska. Additionally, the state's abundant beauty and natural resources are well-represented in the collection with photographs of rugged mountain vistas, native wildlife including grizzly bears, reindeer, caribou, seals, beluga whales and salmon, and several types of wildflowers. A small number of scenic images of Warm Springs and Crater Lake in Oregon and Washington D.C. photographed during Foster's family vacations complete the collection.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

The collection is open to the public.

Restrictions on Use :  

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation :  

Don C. Foster Photographs Collection, Org. Lot 134, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The collection is arranged into the following series:

  • Series A: Alaskan locations, circa 1944-1964
  • Series B: Alaskan subject files, circa 1944-1955
  • Series C: Foster family, circa 1944-1955
Acquisition Information :  

Library accession no. 15918

Processing Note :  

An earlier inventory of the Don C. Foster Photographs Collection labeled the three series as C, D, and E. Since no references to other portions of the collection have been located, the series have been renamed A, B, and C.

Related Materials :  

For more pictures of Alaska during the 20th century, see the Amos Burg Photographs, Org. Lot 450, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series A:  Alaskan locations, circa 1944-1964
824 images.
Arranged alphabetically by location.
1/1-1/2 Aleutian Islands
Includes Atka, Atto, Belkofski, Egegik, King Cove, Kodiak, Kodiak Island, Perryville, Priboloffs, Nikolski, unidentified locations and individuals, Attu, Hooper Bay, Nelson Island, Scammon Bay, Russian cannons, schoolchildren, and Unalakleet
1/3 Anchorage and Anchorage earthquake
Includes photographs of damage to downtown and general views of city.
1964; undated
1/4 Fairbanks
Includes photographs of Fort Yukon and unidentified Native Americans.
1/5 Juneau
Includes photographs of Minnie Fields, general view of area, and Governor's Mansion.
1/6 Kotzebue area
Includes photographs of Bulkland, Kivilina, Kotzebue, Norvick, beluga whales, ice fishing, hospitals, trading post, Native Americans, and schools.
1/7 Kuskokwim area
Includes photographs of Bethel, Akiak, Hooper Bay, Chevak, Kuskokwim River, Kwethiak, Nakaskiak, churches, fishing, Native American attire, John Egook, James B. Garner, and schoolhouse.
1/8 Matamuska Valleys 1945-1949
1/9 Metalakatla
Includes photographs of Sitka, aerials of Sitka area, general scenes of homes, Russian Orthodox Churches, and buildings in Metlakatla.
1/10 Mt. Edgecumbe School (Bureau of Indian Affairs)
Includes photographs of Sitka, hospital, fishing, ships, and August Anderson, Glenn Green, Ted Harris, and Thelma Jorgenson.
1/12-1/13 North Star voyage
Includes photographs of Elim, King Island, Little Diamomede, Nome, Nunviak Island, St. Lawrence Island, Makoryuk, Point Barrow, Delia Nayakik, housing in Wainwright, ancient graves, fishing, hunting, schoolchildren, and Native American attire.
1/14 Southeast Alaska
Includes photographs of Angoon, Chitina, Cordova, Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, Klukwan, Sitka, and mine, parade, pioneer's home, and school.
1/11 Tyanek--School undated

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Series B:  Alaskan subject files,, circa 1944-1955
490 images
Arranged alphabetically by subject.
1/15 Airplanes--Bush and seaplanes undated
1/16 Alaska game animals
Includes photographs of bear, big horn sheep, buffalo, caribou, deer, mountain goat, moose, porcupine, and ptarmigan.
1/17 Canneries and fish traps
Includes photographs of Bristol Bay, Hood Bay, and unidentified locations.
1/18 Flowers
Includes chickweed, fireweed, and unidentified flora of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
1/19 Glaciers--Grinnell and Mendenhall undated
1/20 Foster family along highways in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, Canada
Includes photographs of Alcan Highway, Glennallen Highway, and Richardson Highway.
1/21 Mountains--Arctic range, Mt. McKinley undated
1/22 Native American crafts
Includes photographs of Klukwan Totems, Tlinget tribe members, and unidentified Alaskan tribe totems.
2/1 Reindeer herding
Includes photographs of butchered reindeer, racing reindeer, and reindeer ranching.
2/2 Russian Orthodox Churches
Includes photographs of Atta, Sitka, Mt. Michael, and Unalakleet.
2/3 Sunsets undated
2/4 Unidentified
Includes photographs of Arctic scenes, Native Americans, and scenic views.

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Series C:  Foster family, circa 1944-1955
369 images
2/5-2/8 Foster family portraits
Includes photographs of Don C. Foster, Kara Lee Foster, Katie Lee Foster, Ted Harris-Foster, Sandra Mahaffey, Dr. Moore, Dr. Rabau, and Keith Roberts, as well as images of Columbia River, Crater Lake, Crown Point, Maryhill, Mt. Hood, Multnomah Falls, the Native American Festival at Warm Springs, and Warm Springs.
2/8 Foster family trip to Washington D.C. and New York
Includes photographs of Arlington Cemetery, Grant's Tomb, Jefferson Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Supreme Court Building, The Mall, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, White House, and unidentified locations.

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This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Personal Names :
  • Foster, Don C., 1895-1971--Photographs.
  • Family Names :
  • Foster family--Photographs.
  • Corporate Names :
  • United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Aleutian Islands (Alaska)--Photographs.
  • Anchorage (Alaska)--Photographs.
  • Crater Lake National Park (Or.)--Photographs.
  • Fairbanks (Alaska)--Photographs.
  • Juneau (Alaska)--Photographs.
  • Kotzebue Sound region (Alaska)--Photographs.
  • Nome (Alaska)--Photographs.
  • Warm Springs Indian Reservation (Or.)--Photographs.
  • Washington (D.C.)--Photographs.
  • Subject Terms :
  • Botany--Alaska--Photographs
  • Fishing--Alaska--Photographs
  • Hunting--Alaska--Photographs
  • Indians of North America--Alaska--Photographs
  • Mountains--Alaska--Photographs
  • Russian Orthodox churches--Alaska--Photographs
  • Wildlife--Alaska--Photographs
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Color slides.

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