Marie Holst Pottsmith photographs

Wash day Mr. Mowick's house Evelina Hill Building the first road out of Hamlet Group portrait in Hamlet Two men with horse Schoolhouse & students 4th of July picnic Group at Haikura home Tokada homestead Group with horse and farming equipment Young Finns Picnic group Mr. & Mrs. Albert Hill & home Sarpola family Group with horse and farming equipment Milking time on Andrew Hill farm Mrs. Lindgren with her youngest Emil Lindgren with youngest sister Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Hill & family Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Hill & family Elsie Valley Soapstone Lake Hamlet group portrait Mrs. Albert Hill and bachelor Henry Hill picking raspberries Andrew Hill children Mr. & Mrs. Andrew Hill & family Group portrait in Hamlet
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Identity elements

Reference code

Org. Lot 460

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Marie Holst Pottsmith photographs


  • 1908-circa 1956 (Creation)
  • 1908-1919 (Creation)


0.54 cubic feet; 1 document case; 1 slim document case

Name of creator


Biographical history

Marie M. Holst Pottsmith (1882-1980) was drawn to Oregon from the Dakotas by the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. She decided to remain in Oregon and taught at Keizer, 1905-1907, to earn tuition for the University of Oregon's teacher training program at Eugene. Pottsmith was advised to teach in a mountain school, where the school year runs from spring through early fall, to make the most of her time before college started. She began her journey to the mountains in March 1908, arriving by railroad at Seaside. From there, she traveled on horseback eight miles to the village of Hamlet.

Hamlet, which was accessible only by pack trail from Necanicum, was populated by Finns. The villagers were homestead farmers who supplemented their incomes with fishing out of Astoria. Pottsmith boarded with the Alfred Hill family and earned $55 per month. She sent for a camera outfit from Salem: an Eastman folding Kodak, a tripod, equipment, and instructions for developing film and making prints. Knowing nothing about photography, she pored over the instructions, used the Andersons' sauna for a darkroom, and set out to document her experience in photographs. She made family portraits and sold the prints for $1 per dozen, giving many family groups in Hamlet their first opportunity to have portraits made.

Marie Holst stayed in Hamlet for eight months and then moved on to the University of Oregon, as planned. After a two-year course, she taught in Fisher, Washington. On June 12, 1912, she married the Rev. William F. Pottsmith, who pastored the Presbyterian Church, which was located next door to the S. W. Fisher School, and the one at nearby Ellsworth, Washington. They started married life living at Ellsworth, and Marie Holst Pottsmith gave up her teaching career.

The Pottsmiths had a daughter, Dorothy, who was born June 8, 1914. In 1915, they moved into a new manse at Whiteson, near McMinnville, Oregon, and also served churches in Carlton and Cove Orchard. In 1917, William Pottsmith returned to the machinist trade in Portland and served some outlying churches. Another daughter, Iverna Louise, was born in 1918.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

Digitized versions of 119 sheet film negatives taken by Marie Holst Pottsmith, many of them during the eight months in 1908 that she taught in the remote Finnish community of Hamlet, Oregon. These images document the people and community life in Hamlet, including farming, the school, and construction of the first wagon road to Necanicum by residents of the village, as well as a nearby community in Elsie Valley.

Along with Pottsmith's time in Hamlet, photographs in the collection document her life as a student at the University of Oregon; visits to family and friends in Portland, Salem, and Woodburn; teaching at Fisher, Washington; and her family life in Ellsworth, Washington, and in Oregon. The collection includes one image made circa 1956, when Pottsmith revisited Hamlet and photographed an abandoned farmstead she had previously photographed in 1908.

Undigitized materials in the collection include 129 access prints of the negatives made by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library in 1986. Ten of the prints in the collection do not have corresponding negatives.

System of arrangement

The prints are arranged approximately chronologically, then by location.

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Seven of the photographs were published by Pottsmith and are in the Public Domain
The rest of the photographs are unpublished and available under the following statement: In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted until 2050.

Physical access

The negatives in the collection are not available for direct access due to fragility.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Gifts of Marie Holst Pottsmith, April 1960 (Lib. Acc. 8747) and Iverna L. Velene February 1988 (Lib. Acc. 18626; Photo Acc. 988D221).

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Marie Holst Pottsmith recollections, Mss 1044, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Related descriptions

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Marie Holst Pottsmith photographs, Org. Lot 460, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Sharon M. Howe, 2004; revised by Zoë Maughan, 2023.

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Accession area