Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920

The Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection contains approximately 550 images of the settlement and development of northeastern North Dakota from the early 1880s to the 1920s. The collection is a combination of images that Fred Hultstrand either photographed himself or collected from other sources. In addition, there are a small number of topically related images from South Dakota and Montana. Other states represented in the collection, usually with only one or two images, include Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arkansas.

Of the 550 images approximately 300 of them were hand-colored in oil by Mr. Hultstrand's long-time studio assistant, Thelma Wick. Together some 789 black and white and hand-colored images are presented here. Although the vast majority of the images are from before 1920, a small number were taken after that date. Since they were all taken by Mr. Hultstrand and continue the themes presented in earlier images, they have been included. A small number of images were not included due to the quality of the image or the more recent date of some of the images.

After the death of Mr. Hultstrand in 1968, contact was established with his daughter, Donna Jean Verwest, by the president of North Dakota State University, Dr. L.D. Loftsgard, a native of Park River, N.D. and Dr. Seth Russell, Director of the Institute for Regional Studies. Through their efforts, the Hultstrand collection was donated to NDSU in 1969 by Mrs. Verwest, who had inherited the collection from her father.

ExhibitThe original prints had been specially framed by Mr. Hultstrand for public exhibits he sponsored in Park River, N.D. For preservation reasons, all images were removed from the wood frames and placed in polyester sleeves and acid-free folders and boxes. The original and copy negatives for most, but not all, of the images were also part of the donated material. These too have been processed and preserved in the proper archival enclosures.

The work of two other photographers is represented in the Hultstrand collection, namely John McCarthy of Milton, N.D., and Job V. Harrison of Rock Lake, N.D. Mr. Hultstrand apprenticed for a short time under Mr. McCarthy and later purchased his studio, including all of his original glass negatives. Mr. McCarthy had been a photographer at Milton from circa 1890 until he moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, some time after 1906. There he operated a studio until his death in 1918. Mr. Harrison was an itinerant photographer based at Rock Lake, N.D., around the turn of the century. He was born in 1873 in Indiana and came to homestead in Towner County, N.D., in 1898. Apparently his brother James Harrison and family had come to homestead the year before. Little else is known regarding Mr. Harrison's life. The provenance of his negative collection is unclear but it was acquired by Howard O. Berg of Devils Lake, N.D., around 1956. It was through Mr. Berg that Hultstrand made copy negatives and prints for his own collection. It is not known what happened to the Harrison negatives after Mr. Berg's death. In the catalog record McCarthy or Harrison are identified as the photographer if so indicated on the print or negative.

Because of the popularity of the Hultstrand collection, item-level cataloging was begun in the early 1990s when computer software was acquired, allowing the Institute staff to begin local in-house MARC-based cataloging. The cataloging also was begun in connection with the laser videodisc produced in 1988 by the Institute for Regional Studies, Visual Images from the Northern Prairies. The videodisc, which is still available and used today, includes some 15,000 images from the collections of the Institute and several other local repositories. The videodisc contains only a portion of the total photographic resources available at the Institute.

The catalog record for each image includes all information that is found with the original picture. Additional research has been done by the Institute staff on some of the images. Sources are reflected in the bibliographic record. An attempt has been made to date all images, but at times it is difficult to assign a specific year. Many times only a span of years or a decade is used, and even some of those are estimates. Biographical information about the people in, or associated with, an image has been added, including their ethnic background. Since the original information accompanying a picture can be inaccurate or incomplete, the Institute is eager to hear from researchers who have additional or better information.

The image title either was on a label in the framed picture, or was imprinted upon the image itself. In a few cases the title was provided by the cataloger. The Notes section includes information related to the image, such as a subject description of the image, source of the title, any information written on the image or negative, bibliographic citation to image-related information, biographical information, and citations to published versions.

Topical terms were assigned to all images, providing subject access to each image. In almost all cases these terms describe what the image shows rather than what it is about. The primary source for the topical terms was Thesaurus for Graphic Materials I: Subject Terms, developed and published by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. When this proved inadequate, terms were taken from Library of Congress Subject Headings, and Art and Architecture Thesaurus. In addition, a small number of local subject headings were used, particularly terms related to agriculture, such as Binders (Agricultural machinery), Sheaves of grain, Sod barns, Sod post offices, and Threshing crews. Although the most specific term from the thesauri was used when assigning topical terms, in some cases a broader, more familiar term was also used to aid the user in retrieving desired images.

The topical terms, in most cases, have been subdivided by place and decade. The place is expressed in a hierarchical geographic order, such as (term)--North Dakota--Park River. The appropriate decade has also been added to all topical terms, as well as to personal name entries. To avoid any confusion, no overlapping of the decade year has been used. For example, 1890-1899, not 1890-1900.

Proper noun headings were checked against the Library of Congress Name Authority File. All people identified in the images were included in the subject headings, and when possible, their life dates were added.

The term [sic] which appears in some records indicates erroneous spellings which are in the transcribed information.

A number of North Dakota local histories were consulted in the cataloging of the images of the Fred Hultstrand History in Pictures Collection. Other sources consulted were federal census schedules, naturalization records, and newspapers.

Cemeteries of North Dakota, Cavalier County. 3 vols. Fargo, N.D.: Red River Valley Genealogical Society, 1994-1995.

Cemeteries of North Dakota, Walsh County. 3 vols. Fargo, N.D.: Red River Valley Genealogical Society, 1991.

A Century of Area History, 1882-1982, Milton, North Dakota. [Milton, N.D.: Milton Area Historical Committee, 1983]

Hadler, Mable Lyles Jacques. Towner County, North Dakota Families. 6 vols. Long Beach, Calif.: Mrs. Hadler, 1958-1962.

Lounsberry, Clement A. North Dakota History and People. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1916.

Our Heritage, Nekoma, North Dakota, 1905-1980. Nekoma, N.D.: Nekoma Book Committee, 1980.

Park River, 100 Years, 1884-1984. [Park River, N.D.: Centennial Book Committee, 1984]

The People of Bottineau County. [Bottineau, N.D.?]: Centennial Book Committee, 1984.

The Spirit Lives On: Osnabrock, ND, 1887-1987. Osnabrock, N.D.: Osnabrock Area Historical Book Committee, 1987.

Walsh Heritage: A Story of Walsh County and Its Pioneers. 4 vols. [Grafton, N.D.?]: Walsh County Historical Society, 1976-1981.

The Wonder of Williams: A History of Williams County, North Dakota. 2 vols. [Williston, N.D.?]: Williams County Historical Society, 1975-1976.

Return to the main Hultstrand page line
Northern Great Plains: Photographs from the Fred Hultstrand and F.A. Pazandak Collections