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
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 http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/.
The rest of the photographs are unpublished and available under the following statement: In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/ until 2050.
The negatives in the collection are not available for direct access due to fragility.
Conditions governing reproduction
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Acquisition and appraisal elements
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.
Preferred citation: Marie Holst Pottsmith photographs, Org. Lot 460, Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Description control element
Rules or conventions
Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.
Sharon M. Howe, 2004; revised by Zoë Maughan, 2023.