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Wanda Gifford Photographs, 1948-1958

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

Collection Overview

Title: Wanda Gifford Photographs, 1948-1958

ID: P 218-SG 4

Primary Creator: Gifford, Wanda.

Extent: 2.0 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The Wanda Gifford Photographs are arranged in 3 series: I. Numbered Photographs, 1948-1957; II. Unnumbered Photographs, 1949-1958; and III. Color Transparencies, circa 1950s.

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The Wanda Gifford Photographs consist of images taken by Wanda Gifford during the late 1940s and 1950s that document post-war Salem, Oregon; agriculture in the Willamette Valley; and scenic views of Oregon landmarks, the northern Cascades in Washington, Glacier National Park in Montana. After Ralph Gifford's death in 1947, his wife Wanda Muir Gifford took over the family's photography business and continued to take and sell photographs through the mid-1950s.

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

Scope and Content Notes

The Wanda Gifford Photographs were taken by Wanda Gifford during the late 1940s and 1950s and document the changing face of post-war Salem, Oregon; agriculture in the Willamette Valley; and scenic views of Oregon landmarks, Mount Baker and the northern Cascades in Washington, and Glacier National Park in Montana. The collection also includes images of family and friends and portrait photographs of individuals, family groups, and special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries. Children were one of Wanda Gifford's favorite subjects. Numerous images of snow scenes in the Willamette Valley are included in the collection.

Oregon landmarks that are depicted in the collection include Mount Hood, the Oregon Coast, Multnomah Falls, the Wallowa Mountains, and Steens Mountain. Agricultural images include orchards, strawberry fields, dairy herds, and other livestock. Of special note are numerous images of Mary Kueny and the Kueny Ranch in southeastern Oregon near Steens Mountain. Photographs of the Detroit Dam are also included.

The images of Salem, Oregon, include the original Marion County Courthouse, the Oregon State Capitol and other state buildings, churches, businesses and street scenes, schools, and homes. The courthouse photographs include interior and exterior views and images of offices and workers in the building.

The majority of items in the collection are 4x5 and 120 format film negatives; accompanying prints are included for about a third of the negatives. There are only a few prints without accompanying film negatives. A small percentage of the 4x5 negatives are diacetate-based that are degraded and in poor condition; these are housed separately. The collection also includes 96 color transparencies, primarily 4x5 format. Some of the color transparencies were probably made by Ben L. Gifford.

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

Biographical / Historical Notes

After Ralph Gifford's death in 1947, his wife, Wanda Muir Gifford (1894-1989) took over the family's photography business. Wanda, born in Florin, California, was a 1916 Oregon Agricultural College home economics graduate. She taught home economics in the Portland schools for several years. Ralph and Wanda Gifford had two sons, Ralph Arthur Gifford, who attended Oregon State College before his death in 1939, and Ben L., who carried on the family's photographic tradition for a third generation.

Wanda took and sold photographs from 1947 through the mid-1950s. Largely self-taught in photography, she worked primarily on weekends -- in addition to her job with the County Clerk's office in the Marion County Courthouse. "As Mr. Gifford preferred to photograph landscapes, I am very much interested in child photography," she wrote to a magazine editor about a year after Ralph's death. "With all those fine cameras and a complete laboratory left me I must carry on." Wanda also took many photographs of agriculture subjects, and as Ralph had done, marketed the family's photographs to trade publications, such as American Fruit Grower and U.S. Camera magazines, newspapers, advertising firms, and corporations.

Wanda retired from the Marion County Clerk's office in 1958 and lived in Salem for most of the remainder of her life. She died in Sublimity, Oregon, in 1989.

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 3670 photographs; 15 boxes, including 2 oversize boxes, and 1 map folder

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The photographs 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); Ben L. Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 5); Gifford Collection Photographs by Unknown or Other Photographers (P 218-SG 6); and Gifford Collection Documentary Materials (P 218-SG 7).

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

Preferred Citation: Wanda Gifford Photographs (P 218-SG 4), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

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


Gifford, Wanda.
Gifford, Ben L.

People, Places, and Topics

Baker, Mount (Wash.)
Cascade Range
Detroit Dam (Or.)
Gifford, Wanda.
Glacier National Park (Mont.)
Hood, Mount (Or.)
Landscape photography--Oregon.
Marion County (Or.)
Multnomah Falls (Or.)
Natural Resources
Oregon--Description and travel.
Oregon State Capitol (Salem, Or. : 1938-)
Pacific Coast (Or.)
Portrait photography--Oregon.
Salem (Or.)
Steens Mountain (Or.)
Wallowa Mountains (Or.)

Forms of Material

Color transparencies.
Film negatives.
Photographic prints.

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