Peter Britt photographs
Scope and Contents
Most of the prints are portraits taken by Peter Britt. After 1883, Emil Britt was also in the studio. Nearly half the portraits are unidentified. Peter Britt did take photographs outside the studio infrequently. His most well-known effort occurred in 1874 at Crater Lake. He created what is probably the only wet-process photo of Crater Lake. William Gladstone Steel used the photograph in his successful effort to have Crater Lake designated a National Park. This collection includes the Crater Lake print.
Emil Britt began making photos professionally in 1883 after training for a year in San Francisco. Emil carried the camera out on many picnic excursions in the earlier part of the twentieth century. The earliest prints come from the 1860s, with the most recent taken in 1939 or 1940. The technical work is quite good; however, the overall content is disappointing in that there is not more of the area around Southern Oregon. Most of the early Jacksonville scenes were photographed from the Britt residence. There are few photographs of Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland, Phoenix, or other towns and those that exist are from the twentieth century There are about 100 photographs of artworks and other illustrations that are of little value, but are included here because they are in the collection.
- Britt, Peter, 1819-1905 (Photographer, Person)
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright and any related rights protect materials in this collection. Researchers are free to use these materials for any purpose that is permitted by the copyright and any rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses, researchers need to obtain permission from the rights holder(s). http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
For fair use/educational reproduction, please provide the following credit: From the Peter Britt photographs, courtesy of Southern Oregon University Hannon Library.
Biographical / Historical
Born in Obstalden, Switzerland, Peter (1819-1905) was the second son of Jacob Britt. At the age of 27, he went to America and became a citizen in 1850 in Indiana. He studied daguerreotyping in St. Louis under an early-day photographer, J.H. Fitzgibbon. Peter Britt crossed the plains in 1852 with his camera to settle in Jacksonville.
Peter opened a studio (see photo 24-21) in 1854 to become one of the first studio daguerreographers in Oregon. W.H. Jennings of Oregon City was first in 1851. Although best known as the leading northwest photographer, Britt was a civic-minded person. He owned land (almost 2,000 acres at one time), became a leading horticulturist, a mine owner, a money lender, and a good friend of Chinese laborers.
Peter retired in 1900 to spend more of his time with oil painting and in the greenhouse. In 1861, he married Amalia Grob (1822-1871), a widow with one son, Jacob (1854-1896). They had three children, Emil (1862-1950), Arnold (1864, aged three months), Amalia (1865-1954). None were ever married. Peter Britt attended the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition and there contracted a cold that led to pneumonia and his death later that year.
Interest in the Britts has been constant over the years, as seen by the many newspaper accounts of their activities. In 1948, a movie short entitled “Picture Pioneers” included a portion on Peter Britt. More recently Alan Miller, a graduate student at Trinity College (New Haven, Conn.), wrote a Master’s Thesis on Britt (1972).
4.5 Linear Feet (7 boxes, 1 envelope)
Language of Materials
The collection contains approximately 2,067 prints. Nearly half the portraits are unidentified. Most of the prints are portraits taken by Peter Britt. Emil Britt began making photos professionally in 1883 after training for a year in San Francisco. Peter Britt took photographs outside the studio infrequently. However, Emil carried the camera out on many picnic excursions in the earlier part of the twentieth century. The earliest prints come from the 1860s, with the most recent taken in 1939 or 1940.
The finding aid is arranged alphabetically by subject. Each place or person identified has an entry. Unidentified prints are listed under general subjects; as baby, boy, children, Chinese, family group, farm, girl, house, man, men, painting, woman. There are many prints including early-day automobiles, trains, or houses, yet the bulk of the collection is portraits of individuals.
There are approximately 2,067 prints carrying a number scheme added to the back of the prints by the Oregon Historical Society. It is a number scheme by section and sequence (e.g., 1 -131) within the five boxes of material to permit retrieval of the prints. The index carries these section and sequence numbers.
- Britt, Peter, 1819-1905 (Photographer, Person)
- Britt, Emil, 1862-1950 (Photographer, Person)
- Guide to the Peter Britt photographs
- Peter Britt photographs
- In Progress
- Finding aid prepared by Special Collections and University Archives
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Southern Oregon University, Hannon Library Repository
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland OR 97520 US