Personal Portraits

Unidentified student at piano

Like other Oregon residents, students from the Forest Grove Indian School could arrange to have their portraits taken in local photography studios. It appears that many alumni did so, perhaps wishing to commemorate their graduation or to send home a picture to their families. In contrast to the better-known posed images created by the Davidson Studio, these photographs show a less institutional side to the students' lives. They have presented themselves in their best Western-style clothes, sometimes with symbols of their education: a piano, a diploma, or a military uniform. A few of the personal photographs feature the children of alumni. Most of them were taken in Salem, after the Forest Grove Indian School had moved to its new campus in 1885. Much more so than the Davidson photographs, these images give us a small window into how the students wanted to portray themselves.

Students sometimes gave copies of their portraits to former teachers. In 1882, one of the instructors at the Indian School recorded that Sarah Dickinson, a Tlingit student from Fort Wrangell, gave him a photograph of herself (Samuel A. T. Walker, Diaries, July 20, 1882 entry). Another student, Addie Hill of Shasta Costa, later sent his wife Minnie Walker a photograph of herself inscribed, "From your sewing room girl, Addie Hill." The descendants of the Walkers donated these, along with many other family papers, to the Pacific University Archives in the 1940s. 


Addie Hill, Shasta Costa

Alex Duncan, Clatsop

Walter Burwell, Tlingit

Sarah Pierre, Tututni

Anna Pierre, Tututni

Pengra Logan, Tututni

Frank Carson, Siletz

James Stewart, Nez Perce

Jacob Helm, Piute/Yakama

Henry Steve, Snohomish

Mary, Sarah and Andrew Nelson, Puyallup

Josephine, Christina and Joseph Allard, Snohomish

Unidentified student, Puyallup?

Unidentified student

Unidentified student

Unidentified student

Unidentified student or daughter of alumni

Unidentified; daughter of the Brewers?

Unidentified; daughter of the Brewers?

Child of David & Katie Brewer, Puyallup/Tlingit

Children of David & Katie Brewer, Puyallup/Tlingit