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Gifford Collection Documentary Materials, 1897-1996

By Finding aid prepared by Lawrence A. Landis; updated by Elizabeth Nielsen

Collection Overview

Title: Gifford Collection Documentary Materials, 1897-1996

Predominant Dates: 1926-1957

ID: P 218-SG 7

Primary Creator: Gifford family.

Extent: 3.7 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: 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.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]

Abstract

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.

Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Scope and Content Notes

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.

Images from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Biographical / Historical Notes

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.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 8 boxes, including 3 oversize boxes

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The materials were transferred from the Oregon State University Horner Museum to the University Archives in July 1996.

Related Materials:

This collection is one of seven related collections of visual materials created or assembled by members of the Gifford family from the late 19th through mid-20th centuries that are part of the holdings of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center.  The other six collections 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 Photographs by Unknown or Other Photographers (P 218-SG 6).

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center holdings include several collections documenting photography instruction at Oregon State, including the Robert E. McDole Papers (MSS McDole) and the John Garman Photographic Collection (P 095).

See also: The Gifford Photographic Digital Collection, a growing online repository of the Gifford Family photographers' documentation of Oregon from 1890-1950.

Preferred Citation: Gifford Collection Documentary Materials (P 218-SG 7), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Other URL: A preliminary container list was created for this collection on or before December 1, 2015.

Creators

Gifford family.
Fred Archer School of Photography (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Gifford, Ben L.
Gifford, Benjamin A.
Gifford, Ralph I.
Gifford, Wanda.

People, Places, and Topics

Gifford family.
Landscape photography--Oregon.
Natural Resources
Oregon--Description and travel.
Photographers--Oregon.
Photography--Equipment and supplies.
Photography--Oregon.
Photography--Processing.
Photography--Studios and dark rooms.
Photography--Study and teaching--California--Los Angeles.
Portrait photography--Oregon.
Selling--Photographs.

Forms of Material

Ephemera (general object genre)
Oil paintings (visual works)


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.