Marie Holst Pottsmith photographs, 1908-circa 1956  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Pottsmith, Marie Holst, b. 1882
Marie Holst Pottsmith photographs
1908-circa 1956 (inclusive)
1908-1919 (bulk)
0.36 cubic feet, (129 photographs in 1 box)
Collection Number
Org. Lot 460
This collection contains prints made from original glass plate negatives taken by Marie Holst Pottsmith, the bulk of which she made during the eight months of 1908 that she taught in the remote Finnish community of Hamlet, Or. The images provide good documentation of the people, farming, and community life in Hamlet, and other photos in this collection depict her studies at the University of Oregon, teaching at Fisher, Wash., and her early married life as a Presbyterian minister’s wife in Washington and Oregon. The collection also includes prints made at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library from the original negatives.
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Funding for preparing this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Marie M. Holst Pottsmith (1882-circa 1973) was drawn to Oregon from the Dakotas by the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. The young school teacher 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 Swedish Finns. The villagers were homestead farmers who led self-sufficient lives and 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 $1.00 per dozen, giving many family groups in Hamlet their first opportunity to have portraits made.

Marie Holst stayed in Hamlet for only eight months and then moved on to the University of Oregon, as planned. After a two-year course, she taught in Fisher, Wash. 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, Wash. They started married life living at Ellsworth, and Marie regretfully gave up her teaching career.

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

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Most of the prints in this collection were made by the Oregon Historical Society from original glass plate negatives taken by Marie Holst Pottsmith during the eight months of 1908 that she taught in the remote Finnish community of Hamlet, Or. The images provide good documentation of the people and community life in Hamlet, including farming, the school, construction of the first wagon road to Necanicum by village men, as well as a nearby community in Elsie Valley.

Other photographs in this collection document Marie Holst Pottsmith’s life as a student at the University of Oregon; visits to family and friends in Portland, Salem and Woodburn; teaching at Fisher, Wash.; and married life and family in Ellsworth, Wash., and in Oregon. The collection includes one image made circa 1956, when Marie revisited Hamlet and photographed an abandoned farmstead she had previously photographed in 1908.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

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

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The photographic prints are arranged approximately chronologically, by location, in 20 folders housed in 1 document case. The collection is preceded by a folder of background information.

Acquisition Information

Library accession nos. 8747 and 18626. Photo accession no. 1988D221.

Processing Note

The prints in this collection were made from the original glass plate negatives by staff at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library in 1986.

Separated Materials

For a more complete account of Marie Holst Pottsmith’s life, see her 1964 90-page autobiographical manuscript, which is located in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library Manuscript Collections, Mss 1044.


Pottsmith, Marie Holst. “Frontier Teacher.” Oregon Journal, Feb. 19-22, 1957.

Pottsmith, Marie Holst. “Pioneering Years in Hamlet, Oregon: A Finnish Community.” Oregon Historical Quarterly 61 (March 1960): 4-45.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Container(s) Description Dates
1/0 Background material about this collection
Includes photocopies of a series of articles entitled, "Frontier Teacher," from the Oregon Journal, 1957 February 19-22, as well as a photocopy of "Pioneering Years in Hamlet, Oregon," an account of Pottsmith's life that was published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly in 1960 March.
1957, 1960
1/1 Elsie Valley, Or.
Includes views of valley, Lindgren family, and boy with fawn.
1/2 Hamlet, Or.--Berry picking
Includes photographs of Mrs. Albert Hill and Henry Hill picking raspberries; Andrew Hill children picking wild berries; and Marie Holst and huckleberries.
1/3 Hamlet, Or.--Farming
Includes photographs the Albert Hill farm, a horse-drawn reaper cutting grain, and a work horse.
1/4 Hamlet, Or.--Farms and homesteads
Includes views of Henry Piekkola's stump house and homestead cabin; August Tokola farm; and Harvey Mowick farm.
1908, circa 1956
1/5 Hamlet, Or.--Outdoor recreation
Includes photographs of fishing, hunting, Fourth of July celebration, and picnics.
1/6 Hamlet, Or.--People--Albert and Andrew Hill families 1908
1/7 Hamlet, Or.--People--Frank Haikura and Herman Jackson families 1908
1/8 Hamlet, Or.--People--Other families
Includes photographs of the Andrew Lampi family; Mrs. Makela [mother of the Hill brothers--Makela was their Finnish family name]; Mrs. Mattson; and Sarpola family.
1/9 Hamlet, Or.--Road and trail
Includes views of packing in mattress over trail; building wagon road; and Marie Holst with others in wagon heading out over the newly-completed road to Necanicum, Or.
1/10 Hamlet, Or.--School
Includes photographs of students Alfred Haikura, Alvered Hill, Evelina Hill, Hilma Hill, Eli Lampi, Phemi Lampi, Fred Mattson, Alex Sarpola, and Alma Sarpola, as well as teacher Marie Holst at school and at Albert Hill farm. Includes view of her in her bedroom, preparing lessons, and washing clothes in front of the sauna, which she used as a darkroom.
1/11 Soapstone Lake [near Hamlet, Or.] 1908
1/12 Eugene, Or.
Includes views of University of Oregon campus (including views with snow); Ellen M. Pennell, assistant Dean of Women; interior and exterior of Pennell's house; Marie Holst, who boarded at the Pennell House; and April Frolic costume event.
1/13 Portland, Or.
View of Marie Holst photographing herself in mirror at home of Andrew and May Sanner McManus, 249 Cherry St. [May was Marie's cousin.]
1/14 Salem, Or.
Includes photographs taken by Pottsmith during her visits to her uncle, John J. Sanner, and his family.
1/15 Woodburn, Or.--Simpson farm
Includes photographs of Pottsmith visiting college friends, Mabel and Anne Simpson, during threshing time, with Daisy Mulkey and images of threshing machines and crews.
circa 1909
1/16 Fisher, Wash.
Includes views of S.W. Fisher Schoolhouse, students, teacher Marie Holst, and activities including school garden and picnic; Presbyterian Church and activities; Arnold house; and view of village toward Columbia River.
1/17 Ellsworth, Wash.
Includes views of Presbyterian Church and manse; Rev. William Pottsmith in study; sanctuary decorated for Easter; and newlyweds William and Marie Holst Pottsmith in their backyard.
1/18 Portland, Or.
Views of William and Marie Holst Pottsmith during honeymoon trip.
1/19 Whiteson and McMinnville, Or.
Includes views of William, Marie, and daughter Dorothy Pottsmith in front of new Presybterian manse at Whiteson and a visit to McMinnville.
1/20 Portland, Or.
View of Dorothy Pottsmith participating in Decoration Day [Memorial Day] activities with Virginia and Georgella Hefty.
1919 May 30

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Agriculture--Oregon--Hamlet--Photographs.
  • Dwellings--Oregon--Hamlet--Photographs.
  • Finnish Americans--Oregon--Photographs.
  • Rural schools--Oregon--Hamlet--Photographs.
  • Schools--Washington (State)--Photographs.
  • Women teachers--Washington (State)--Photographs.
  • Women teachers--Oregon--Hamlet--Photographs.

Personal Names

  • Pottsmith, Marie Holst, b. 1882--Photographs.

Corporate Names

  • University of Oregon--Photographs.
  • University of Oregon--Students--Photographs.

Family Names

  • Pottsmith family--Photographs.

Geographical Names

  • Ellsworth (Wash.)--Photographs.
  • Fisher (Wash.)--Photographs.
  • Hamlet (Or.)--Photographs.
  • Salem (Or.)--Photographs.
  • Woodburn (Or.)--Photographs.

Form or Genre Terms

  • Glass negatives.
  • Photographic prints.