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Photographs - Collections - 0151-0200 - #00200

Title: Russell Reid

Dates: 1920s-1950s

Collection Number: 00200

Quantity: approximately 4,000 prints and negatives

Abstract: The photo collection reflects Reid’s wide range of interests: North Dakota history and the fauna, flora, and natural history of the state. Many of the views pertain to specific projects of the State Historical Society of North Dakota and, as such, constitute a photographic history of the organization.

Provenance: The Russell Reid Photograph Collection was loaned to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by the North Dakota State Library in 1970 and donated in 1986.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Related Collection:
10149 Russell Reid

Collection Note:

The collection is made up of approximately 4,000 photographs. It appears to have been started in the early 1920s and covers Reid’s entire career from that time well into the 1950s. It does not appear that many photographs were added during the late 1950s and 1960s.

The subjects reflect Reid’s wide range of interests: North Dakota history and the fauna, flora and natural history of the state. Many of the views pertain to specific projects of the State Historical Society of North Dakota and, as such, constitute a photographic history of the organization. The collection contains literally hundreds of pertinent photos that are not even in the Society’s own photographic files.

The collection as it presently stands, is broken up into two major groupings along with several minor groups of miscellany.

The largest of the major groupings consists of an estimated 2,000 items broken into three separate categories, based on negative size: 4 X 5 inches, 5 X 7 inches, and 6.5 X 8.5 inches. A small number of glass plate negatives are scattered throughout this grouping.

An index for this grouping of photographs is a very rudimentary one and probably will need a good deal of work before the collection will be easily usable. Some of the negatives have deteriorated quite badly. [The acetate and nitrate negatives are currently stored in a freezer]

The second major grouping within the collection was housed in 15 holders called “Kodak Negative Albums”, made specifically for negatives smaller than 3.25 X 5.5 inches in size. A typical album contains 100 glassine envelopes bound together with two inventory or index pages. An inventory of these albums indicated the following negative numbers are included:
Neg. nos. B-1 to B-250
Neg. Nos. C-1 to C-900
Neg. nos. M-1 to M-150 (filled only to M-96)
Neg. nos. 901-1100
The apparent total of these negatives is between 1384 and 1500.

A small, but important, group within this category are three small boxes containing about six color glass plate negatives. A small group of 35 black and white glass plate negatives contains photos of birds and flowers. Last is a group of unsorted items containing a large number of prints and a few negatives. A casual examination suggests about half of the prints are from Russell Reid negatives contained within the other parts of the collection. An estimated 500 prints and negatives are included in this group.

January 9, 1970                                                                         Frank E. Vyzralek


Russell Reid was born February 6, 1900 on a farm near Hannah, North Dakota. His father, Peter Reid, settled in Cavalier County in 1886 and his mother Henrietta Balfour, came there in 1889. Both parents were immigrants from Canada. The family moved to Langdon in Cavalier County in 1905 and then to Bismarck in 1913 where Reid graduated from high school.

Russell Reid began working at the State Historical Society of North Dakota in 1917 while still in high school when the museum occupied the basement of the old Capitol. After high school Reid worked as a surveyor and at the Bismarck Public Library. In 1923, after returning to full-time work for the Historical Society, he was appointed Museum Assistant. In 1928 he received the title of Curator and in 1929 succeeded Lewis F. Crawford as Superintendent of the Historical Society. He served as Superintendent of the Society until his retirement in 1967. About the time of his appointment as Superintendent the depression hit. Reid kept the Society alive until the development of the CCC and WPA projects began to preserve and develop historic and scenic resources in the state. Reid was federal procurement officer in North Dakota for the National Park Service between 1935 and 1938. Out of the efforts of these years grew the State Parks Committee on which Reid served effectively for twenty years. This committee eventually became the North Dakota State Park Service.

Reid was a member of the National Conference of State Parks and was a senior fellow of the American Institute of Park Executives. In 1954 he was awarded the Pugsley Silver Medal for outstanding achievement in state park development and historic site preservation by the American Scenic and Historical Preservation Society. In 1958 he received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from the University of North Dakota. Among the more outstanding accomplishments of his administration was the creation of the nation’s first National Memorial Park in memory of Theodore Roosevelt in the North Dakota Badlands, the Chateau de Mores Historic Site (a gift from the son of the Marquis), the international Peace Garden, and the construction of innumerable public facilities and markers at parks and historic sites throughout the state.

The Yellowstone-Missouri Fort Union Commission scheduled the transfer of the deed for Fort Union to the National Park Service to coincide with Russell Reid Day, in order to recognize Reid’s unique contribution. The transfer marked the official beginning of the Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site.

Salvage archaeology a program conducted in cooperation with the National Park Service designed to save priceless archaeological information from the flooding of giant dam reservoirs, began during Reid’s administration. This was the only official and systematic archaeological program ever conducted in North Dakota, a state unusually rich in plains archaeological sites.
Reid was editor of the North Dakota Historical Quarterly from 1945 to 1965. He was first vice president of the International Peace Gardens, Inc., a member of the American Association of Museums, member of the North Dakota Wildlife League, the ecologist’s Union, and former officer and founder of the Missouri Slope Chapter of the Isaac Walton League and a national director of the League.

Russell Reid served his community with energy also helping to start the Bismarck-Mandan Executives Club and serving for many years on the Bismarck Public Library Board, the Board of Trustees of the Bismarck Hospital, and the Girl Scout Executive Board. He was a member of the Bismarck Rotary Club, the Bismarck Art Association, and the Garden Club. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church.

Reid’s contribution to the state is inestimable, not only because of the articles he wrote, the many museum specimens he personally collected, and the thousands of photographs he took, but also for the great respect in which he was esteemed by his colleagues, for the encouragement he gave to all interested in the preservation of history and wildlife, and his modest dedication which provided an example to those who knew him and made a favorable impression with the many visitors to the state he loved so intensely. Russell Reid died July 9, 1967.
Written by Craig Gannon for a Historical Society banquet honoring Reid. 

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