Daily Archives: August 27, 2009

Cool things about Fred Kiser

As promised yesterday, here’s is part two of the “cool things about Fred Kiser” post!

In 1907, a Kiser Exhibition opened at the Portland Hotel, attracting what was described as “an Admiring Crowd.” Again, I reach for the book Oregon Photographers: Biographical History and Directory.

“In many ways the finest art collection ever on exhibition in Portland is to be seen in the parlors of the Portland Hotel. The pictures are the results of eight years work by F. H. Kiser, one of the best scenic photographic artists in this country, and cost to produce over $40,000. On the walls of the two rooms are hung 200 exquisitely colored scenes of Oregon scenery, while on the tables are over 800 additional views.”

After the exhibit in Portland, the collection traveled to Oregon’s coastal towns and then headed to the east coast on a “Mission of Education.” And what an exhibit it was! Mayor Lane, in his introductory remarks said this:

Ladies and gentleman, I have been called upon to be present at the opening of the Kiser exhibit, a collection of photographs of the mountain scenery of the State of Oregon. It is a pleasure and an honor; we owe as a master of justice, many words of thanks to the gentleman who has risked his life and been to great expense and trouble to produce such an elegant collection of views as we see here today; and he has many more which are not an exhibition at this time.” He goes on to say that “In his efforts as an artist, Mr. Kiser has become, as a matter of fact, a public benefactor to the state. His work will live after him, and will bring great good to the state; for an exhibit of this kind cannot be made in the Eastern States.”

Finally, and I think this is the best part, he reports that “People in the East do not comprehend that such scenery as this exists; they would not believe it if we tried to describe it to them by word of mouth; if we made oath to it they would still doubt. They might even dispute the work of the painter, saying that it was the product of his imagination. But these cold facts as they are presented by the camera, a scientific and accurate instrument, is astonishing to those who are unacquainted with Oregon. Such an exhibit throughout the East will be of great advantage to the state; it will bring us tourists, hundreds and thousands of people who travel all over the world in the Summer season, many of them visiting places that have no such scenery as we have here.” Believe it — Oregon really is that beautiful!

You can read the entire article on Kiser on the genealogy.com forum page.

Lest you think that you’ll get away from this post without a random Flickr Commons connection, here it is: Kiser was also the official photographer for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Expo! Check out our Commons set to see some great images.

And, in a special release to celebrate Kiser’s Mazamas membership, we’ll be launching a new set tomorrow into our Commons account! 17 brand new images will be added to the Williams Collection. Here’s your sneak peak…

Bad News from Southern Oregon

The Southern Oregon Historical Society tries to preserve own future: Historical Society president says most operations will be closed for six months, vows to reorganize and reopen

“A worsening financial crisis at the Southern Oregon Historical Society will require shutting down its Jacksonville museums for six months and laying off most of its staff to restructure an organization that is the guardian of local history. ‘We will close most of the operations,’ said Terrie Martin, president of the SOHS board. On Sept. 7, the museums as well as the research library in Medford will be shut down, historical society officials said Thursday.” To read more, check out the Mail Tribune article from August 14th.

Ironically, I have been corresponding with a man who is interested in donating his research notes from a great genealogy project to an archives or historical society in Oregon. He’s frustrated and feels like the value his work isn’t being recognized. It’s hard not to understand, especially when the work he has done is the sort of thing archivists and historians love. And I’m sure I can speak for most of the archivists and historians I know when I say that we’re in business because there are people who save things, people who research things, and people who produce books/collections.

Unfortunately, inquiries about a donation come at a time when the historical societies are cutting and closing. As the current President of the NW Archivists, the professional association of archivists in WA, OR, ID, MT, and AL, my entire term has been spent thinking about the larger implications of massive lay-offs or the closing of cultural institutions…

What does this all mean for donors? In many cases, it means that repositories just can’t accept anything new. And it’s not just for the space/staffing/preservation/access issues you might immediately think of – ethically, we have a code that says that we are committed to preserving and providing access to the historical record. Again, what does this mean for donors? It means that it’s ethically “wrong” for us to accept anything that we know we can’t preserve or provide access to. It means we can’t take in materials that we know will sit indefinitely in a box on a shelf with little more than the report that was produced when the items showed up.

So please, remember the value of archives, support your local museums and historical societies, and keep collecting — fingers crossed that we come out of this budget crunch and can start chugging away again!