Category Archives: Gifford Collection

Those fabulous Giffords and their great pictures!

Oh the places you’ll go… Oh the places those Giffords went…

You’ve had a good long wait for a new Flickr Commons set — and this one will not disappoint. Those fabulous Giffords, with their fabulous picture taking skills, have left us with such an amazing legacy of stunning photography. Pulling together a set of pictures for this “Travels with the Giffords” set was a cinch. So many stunners to choose from!

Ice Garden, 1925

Ice Garden, 1925

My favorites include the “Ice Garden,” above, which shows a frozen fountain and pond at Gifford home in Salmon River, Washington. Another spectacular shot, “Hot springs near Lakeviewis seen below.


Hot springs near Lakeview, Oregon

Hot springs near Lakeview, Oregon

Want some more details from the finding aid?

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 hotographer in Portland and The Dalles, Oregon, from the late 1880s until about 1920, when his son Ralph took over his studio in Portland.

Ralph I. Gifford with dog and horse, circa 1945

Ralph I. Gifford with dog and horse, circa 1945

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.



Rushing Waters and Steadfast Stones

Rushing Waters and Steadfast Stones

Great title for a great set! It’s the 3rd Wednesday and we’re celebrating that greenest of all events with a bunch of rocks and waves. You’ll find some gorgeous shots of the Oregon Coast, including hand colored postcards like this one with sea side “activity” in Seaside:

and this placid water on Cannon Beach:

Want to see some falls?

Or some blue?

Or maybe just a lighthouse or two?

Enjoy! And for those of you wanting a hit of Ireland, check out the Flickr set we released last year of Ralph Gifford’s Whiddy Island images.

Coming for St. Patrick’s Day!

Tomorrow morning you’ll be treated to 47 of Ralph I. Gifford’s amazing WWI pictures of Ireland’s Whiddy Island on our osu.archives Flickr page.

More about Whiddy Island

An island off Bantry Bay, Ireland, Whiddy Island is about 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. According to the Wikipedia article on the island, “As late as 1880 it had a resident population of around 450, mainly engaged in fishing and small-scale farming. It currently has a permanent, resident population of around 20 people, although there are many visitors in the tourist season, many staying in self-catering accommodation, in the form of several restored traditional island cottages. The island is linked to the mainland by ferry, with return trips several times a day. There is one pub, The Bank House, which opens at weekends and also serves food during the summer months. The local economy is mainly fueled by the fishing and farming industries.” While it now has a large oil terminal for berthing supertankers, in the last few months of World War I it was the site of a US naval air station. And that’s where Ralph Gifford’s pictures come in!

More about Ralph Gifford

Gifford was born in Portland, Oregon in 1894. As a young boy he worked in his father’s photography studio, accompanying his father on photography trips around Oregon. He married Wanda Muir Theobald in 1918 and spent the last part of World War I in the U.S. Navy– stationed on Whiddy Island. Gifford took over the family’s Portland-based photography business around 1920, selling it 8 years later to go into the motion picture business with F. C. Heaton. In 1936, Ralph became the first photographer of the newly established Travel and Information Department of the Oregon State Highway Commission. His landscape views of Oregon’s natural beauty were used for many years to promote tourism in the state; he also took motion pictures for the Highway Commission, including the 1941 color version of The New Oregon Trail (which you can watch by clicking here) and the 1947 Glimpses From Oregon State Parks, released shortly before his death. Ralph was also a commercial photographer, and many of his commercial shots were taken at the same time as his Highway Commission photos; his photographs could be purchased as postcards, view sets, individual prints, and photo-plaques.

More about the Gifford Collection

The Gifford Collection consists of photographs taken by Ralph I. Gifford; his father, Benjamin A. Gifford; his wife, Wanda M. Gifford; and his son, Ben L. Gifford. The pictures taken by Ralph and Wanda Gifford make up the bulk of this collection, with shots of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest from the 1910s through the 1950s. Between 1936 and 1947, Ralph Gifford extensively photographed the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake, Silver Falls, Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge, the Pendleton Roundup, the Wallowa Mountains, and the Snake River Canyon. Many of his photographs were made into postcards or view sets, which were sold at souvenir shops throughout the state. And, of course, his collection also includes several photographs he took while stationed at Whiddy Island during World War I. To read more, check out OSU’s collection guide. The Oregon Historical Society also has a large collection of Gifford pictures; however, its focus is on those of Benjamin A. Gifford.

More about how great it is that everything is connected

As it happens, there are also some great Gifford images on the Oregon Historic Photograph Collections site, which is managed by the Salem Public Library. Dating back to the mid 1800s, this site provides access to thousands of photographs of Oregon from the Library’s digital collections. Doing an advanced search bring up 127 Ralph Gifford images, including six from Celilo Falls! Those of you connecting the Flickr account dots will remember that the last release on the OSU Archives Commons account was a set of 43 images of Celilo Falls taken from the Gerald Williams Collection.

Check these out!

Another fun fact

Alan Phelan was inspired by these images of Whiddy Island, creating an exhibit in 2007 entitled Ralph Eamon Odo Barbara.

More about Oregon