University of Idaho

Manuscript Group 177


Papers, 1887-1984
2 cubic feet

The papers of Ella Letitia Olesen and her father Peder Christian Olesen were donated to the University of Idaho Library by the heirs of Miss Olesen in August 1985. They were processed by Judith Nielsen in January 1990.


Peder Christian Olesen, the son of Ole and Ella Christiansen, was born near Esbjerg, Denmark on May 29, 1845. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to learn the tailor trade, but he never followed the profession. Under the Danish law requiring compulsory military training he spent 22 months in the army.

In November 1872 he became the first, and only, member of his family to emigrate to America. After spending one year in Illinois he journeyed west where he spent time railroading in California and Nevada. He came to the Inland Empire in 1879 and settled in Moscow in 1881 where he worked with Charles Moore managing a flour mill. He acquired property in and around Moscow and assisted others, many around Grangeville, by loaning money.

On March 24, 1892, he married Margaret Elizabeth Teare, 1860-1948, who was born at Ballaugh, Isle of Man and came to the United States in 1890. They had one daughter, Ella Letitia.

Peder Olesen was a member of Paradise Lodge no. 17, A.F. & A.M., being the first initiate after its installation.

He died January 17, 1938.


Ella Letitia Olesen was born in Moscow, Idaho, March 12, 1894, the only child of Peder Christian and Margaret Elizabeth (Teare) Olesen. She attended Moscow schools and graduated from the University of Idaho Preparatory School in 1911. She attended the University of Idaho, and although she never graduated, was considered a member of the class of 1915 and attended its reunions.

She was appointed to the stenographic staff of the university on July 1, 1915, and from May to September 1918 was secretary to the Home Economics Director, U.S. Food Administration for Idaho. On October 1, 1918 she was appointed secretary to University President Ernest Lindley, a position she held until being appointed Recorder on October 1, 1920. She also served as the first secretary of the administrative council created to head the junior college which existed at the university at one time. Her title as Recorder was changed to Registrar in 1924 and she remained in that office until her resignation in August 1944.

In 1971 she established a scholarship for young women, with preference given to those from Denmark and the Isle of Man. Olesen Hall, a residence hall for women at the University, is named for her. In February 1981 she established a trust fund for the University of Idaho Library, the income of which is used for the purchase of library books and materials.

She enjoyed traveling, often going by freighter, collecting fabric and momentos as she went. She had a large collection of teaspoons representing the countries she visited.

She was a member of the Methodist Church, to which she donated an organ, the Order of the Eastern Star, and a life member of the Latah County Pioneer Association.

She died in Moscow on February 4, 1985.


The papers of Ella Letitia Olesen and Peter Christian Olesen span the years 1887 to 1984, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1900 to 1970.

The papers include correspondence, financial records, property records and other legal papers, and papers related to Miss Olesen's travels and other interests.


The material in this manuscript group was in no apparent order when received, therefore a series order was imposed during processing.

The papers were first separated by the generator of the records, then each group was organized by type of record. Tax returns of Peder's wife Margaret are included with his papers, while all property taxes through 1936 are with Peder's papers, property taxes from 1937 are with Ella's papers.

The correspondence of Peder Olesen was first separated by language--Danish or English--then each was arranged chronologically. The Danish correspondence is personal in nature, whereas the English correspondence concerns his various financial transactions. Most is incoming, but from 1914 some outgoing letters are also included.

The financial records include check registers, property tax receipts for both Whitman County, Washington and Latah County, Idaho, from 1887 to 1936; income tax returns; and financial journals in which he kept detailed records of household expenses.

The legal papers include leases, deeds, mortgages, and applications for loans which he presumably bought from the banks. Also included are two early wills. Items in each folder are in chronological order.

Other Peder Olesen papers include correspondence regarding the estate of Margaret's brother John Teare, items relating to the Masonic Lodge to which he loaned money for a new building, papers concerning land use on a farm in Lenville, a map of his home town of Esbjerg, Denmark, and an undated Third Ward Primary Ballot on which he is listed as a candidate.

The correspondence of Ella Letitia Olesen is personal in nature and was easily separated by subject. The general correspondence includes several items of interest: her letter of appointment to the stenographic staff at the University of Idaho dated 1915; a 1936 letter from history professor Frederick Church giving details of his stay in Poland; and the letters she wrote in 1944 to other registrars telling them her reasons for resigning her position at the U of I. Others include the letters from state politicians on the occasion of her 90th birthday, letters concerning her donation of an organ to the Methodist Church and letters of condolence on the deaths of her parents.

The financial records include papers concerning the estates of her parents, receipts from her world travels, property tax receipts and income tax returns. The property records deal with the purchase, rent, and improvements on the Cronk farm in Steptoe, two houses and a business in Moscow.

Other papers include passports and other travel documents, photographs, poems she collected, ration books, a list of her relatives, and items concerning the University of Idaho and the Preparatory School.

Paid checks and bank statements were discarded as were greeting cards without written notes. In all the records were reduced by 0.5 cubic feet.


I.	Peder Christian Olesen Papers, 1887-1947	1
	A.	Correspondence, 1889-1917
	B.	Financial, 1887-1948
	C.	Legal Papers, 1885-1927
	D.	Other Papers, 1892-1938
II.	Ella Letitia Olesen Papers, 1908-1984	1-2
	A.	Correspondence, 1915-1984
	B.	Financial, 1908-1974
	C.	Property, 1924-1962
	D.	Other, 1911-1981


I. Peder Christian Olesen Papers, 1887-1948

A. Correspondence, 1889-1917

1	1	In Danish, 1889-1908	40
	2-3	In English, 1894-1917	214

B. Financial, 1887-1948

	4	Check Registers and Deposit Books, 1892-1923	33
	5	Receipts, Invoices, etc, 1889-1918	41
	6	Property Tax Receipts, Whitman County, Washington, 1888-1903; 1934-1935	16
	7-8	Property Tax Receipts, Latah County, Idaho, 1887-1936	192
	9	Income Tax Returns, Peder Olesen, 1919; 1931-1937	24
	10	Income Tax Returns, Margaret E. Olesen, 1938-1948	36
	11-15	Financial Journals, 1890-1923	5

C. Legal Papers, 1885-1927

	16-17	Leases, Deeds, etc., 1885-1927	100
	18	Abstracts of Title, n.d.	2
	19	Loan Applications, 1904-1908	9
	20	Wills of Peder Christian Olesen, 1892-1905	2

D. Other Papers, 1892-1938

	21	John Teare Estate, 1892-1893	25
	22	Masonic Lodge No. 17, 1916-1937	6
	23	Lenville Farm, 1916-1938	14
	24	Miscellaneous, n.d.	2

II. Ella Letitia Olesen Papers, 1908-1984

A. Correspondence, 1915-1984

	25	General, 1915-1983	73
	26	Birthday Greetings, 1984	6
	27	Christmas Card and Gift Lists, 1950-1974	3
	28	Christmas Letters, 1956-1976	14
	29	On the Death of Peder Olesen, 1938	42
	30	On the Death of Margaret Olesen, 1948	62
2	31	Sent to Ella in Europe, 1958	26
	32	Methodist Church Organ, 1959-1963	40
	33	Travel Arrangements, 1956-1962	14

B. Financial Papers, 1908-1974

	34	Estate of Peder C. Olesen, 1938-1939	24
	35	Estate of Margaret Olesen, 1948-1950	49
	36	Early Financial Papers, 1908-1910	4
	37-40	Receipts from Travels, 1956-1974	281
	41	Property Tax Receipts, 1936-1945	54
	42-49	Income Tax Returns, 1931-1963	423

C. Property, 1924-1962

	50	Specifications for House at 482 Ridge Road, 1961	20
	51-52	Cronk Farm, 1935-1955	331
	53	Cronk Farm, New House, 1953-1954	40
	54	Wilmes Farm Purchase, 1936	27
	55	Rental Houses on 7th Street, 1924-1962	36
	56	Rental of 501 Main Street, 1924-1955	65

D. Other Papers, 1911-1981

	57	Passports and Other Travel Documents, 1951-1978	13
	58	Photographs, 1954-1981	5
	59	Poems, n.d.	16
	60	Ration Books, etc., 1942-1944	19
	61	Relatives of Ella Olesen, 1966-1973	9
	62	University of Idaho, 1911-1977	15
	63	Latah County Pioneer Association Certificate, n.d.	1
	64	Registrars' Associations, 1944-1956	14

November 1995 / mg177.htm

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