Ott Historical Photograph Collection

Photographs from local Clifford M. Ott depicting northern Idaho as it was, 1890 - 1980

About the Collection

Excerpted from the Winter 1996 issue of Towers (the newsletter of Library Associates, University of Idaho Library)

The University of Idaho Library houses a collection of historical photographs donated by Clifford M. Ott in 1992. Mr. Ott was an avid amateur photographer who amassed over 10,000 slides, prints, and negatives spanning the years from 1883 to 1990. Ott compiled a selection from his collection into eleven albums containing a total of over 1,800 images of Moscow and surrounding Latah County. These scrap books contain photos as well as newspaper clippings, and historic footnotes. Clifford Ott used these scrapbooks, and other slides and negatives, to give talks to senior groups about Latah County history.

Clifford M. Ott was a Moscow resident for ninety years. He was born in Iowa Falls, Iowa in 1897. Mr. Ott’s family relocated to Moscow in 1906. He attended school in Moscow until 1915. In 1916, Mr. Ott joined the Idaho National Guard, Company F in Lewiston. After service on the Arizona-Mexico border, his unit served in Washington State until it merged with the 116th Engineers and was dispatched to France where he served as a bayonet instructor.

Looking west at corner of Third and Jackson streets in Moscow
Looking west at corner of Third and Jackson streets in Moscow

He returned to Moscow in 1919, briefly working on the city survey crew. From 1920 to 1926, Clifford Ott farmed near Moscow. Then in 1927, he began working for the Washburn Wilson Seed Company as a warehouse foreman. After a 1945 fire, Mr. Ott was placed in charge of rebuilding the plant’s processing and bean packaging machinery. During World War II, he helped produce C- and K- Rations at the seed company. Mr. Ott was made the manager of the Washburn Feed Store in 1952. He left the feed store in 1960 and went to work for the Idaho Department of Agriculture as a warehouse examiner. After retiring in 1967, he worked for the Aslin Finch Grain Company in Potlatch, Idaho. He remained at Aslin Finch until his second retirement in 1972. Mr. Ott continued to live in Moscow until his death on September 18, 1996, at the age of 99.

The photographs provide a careful documentary record of life, activities, and scenes in Moscow and nearby Latah County. Many of the images were copied from family photographs that would otherwise be inaccessible today. Researchers and students now have access to a remarkable historical record through Mr. Ott’s generosity to the University of Idaho Library.

–Greg Schroeder, Contributing Writer.

Looking northeast at corner of First and Main streets in 1885
Looking northeast at corner of First and Main streets in 1885

Technical Credits - CollectionBuilder

This digital collection is built with CollectionBuilder, an open source tool for creating digital collection and exhibit websites that is developed by faculty librarians at the University of Idaho Library following the Lib-STATIC methodology.

This site is built using CollectionBuilder-CDM which utilizes CONTENTdm APIs to create an engaging “skin” on top of an existing digital collection repository.

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