Whiddy Island
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We're delighted to share 47 of Ralph I. Gifford's WWI pictures of Ireland's Whiddy Island.

Tell me 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!

Tell me 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.

Tell me 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.

Tell me 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.

Casting for salmon at Celilo, Oregon, ca. 1937

Casting for salmon at Celilo, Oregon, ca. 1937

Fishing at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River in north-central Oregon, ca 1935

Indians fishing for salmon at Celilo, Oregon, ca. 1937

Indians in small cable car over Columbia River ar Celilo, Oregon, ca. 1937

Young Indian holding gaffed salmon at Celilo Falls, Oregon, ca. 1937

Tell me another fun fact
Alan Phelan was inspired by these images of Whiddy Island, creating an exhibit in 2007 entitled Ralph Eamon Odo Barbara

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47 photos · 2,755 views