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Carl Hall papers

Identifier: WUA124

Scope and Contents

The Carl Hall papers include materials that document Hall’s careers as an artist, professor, and writer from 1940 to 2008. Series I (Art career) contains gallery exhibition fliers, correspondence, resumes, artist statements, sketches, newspaper clippings, catalogues of Hall’s works, published articles about Hall including a feature article in Life magazine in March 1948, and records of grants and awards. Series II (Teaching career) includes lecture notes, articles and images used for teaching, research materials concerning various artists and styles, and class schedules. Series III (Writing) contains drafts and final copies of manuscripts and essays, poetry and compilations of poems, articles about art and life written by Hall for his Images column in the Oregon Statesman newspaper, and personal writing concerning various topics. This series also contains his extensive research and data collected about blue heron migrations at Minto Island in Salem, Oregon, as well as other aviary and weather-related research and writing produced by Hall. Series IV (Correspondence) contains World War II letters from Hall to his wife and family, art-related correspondence concerning art purchases and exhibitions, and personal correspondence with family and friends including Hallie Ford, Nelson and Olive Sandgren, Mark Sponenburgh, and Roger Hull. Series V (Family records) includes photographs and records of Hall’s children, parents, and siblings. Series VI (Books) includes various books and magazines that were important to Hall and represent his extensive personal library.


  • 1929-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1940-2008


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Library acts as “fair use” reproduction agent.

For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections.

Copyright Information: Before material from collections at Willamette University Archives and Special Collections may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permission. Persons wishing to quote from materials in any collections held by University Archives and Special Collections should consult the University Archivist. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Biographical / Historical

Carl Albin Hall was a prolific painter, writer, teacher, researcher, and arts advocate who created much of his work in Salem, Oregon. He is known for his paintings of the Willamette Valley, the Oregon coast, the female nude, and imagery inspired by the Northwest Coast Native cultures of Alaska. He was born on September 17, 1921 in Washington, D.C. and died on June 6, 1996 in Salem, Oregon.

Hall grew up in East Detroit, Michigan, and was the second oldest of seven children of Walter and Ella Hall. Hall’s artistic talent was encouraged and nurtured by his parents, who created a studio space in their home to accommodate his works. While in high school, Hall received a scholarship to attend the Meinzinger School where he studied under Carlos Lopez, a Cuban artist who served as Hall’s mentor and advocate. Under Lopez's mentorship, Hall successfully submitted his work to juried exhibitions at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and other major venues. His painting, Interlochen, Michigan, which he completed at age nineteen, was purchased by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1940.

At age twenty-one, Hall was drafted into the army and assigned to Camp Adair near Corvallis, Oregon for basic training. In 1943, while stationed in Medford, Oregon, he met Phyllis Blake at the USO Club in Ashland. They married on July 12, 1944 in Marysville, California. Hall left for the Pacific Theater a few days later. Hall served in combat duty as infantry and army artist in the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan, from 1944 through early 1946. As an army artist, Hall created maps and sketches for his platoon. While in service, Hall maintained a daily journal and often sent sketches through the mail to his wife and family. After his discharge from the military, the Halls moved temporarily to Detroit, Michigan, and then settled permanently in Salem, Oregon in 1946. The Halls raised four children on a thirty-acre property where Carl shared his love of nature with his family. In 1948 Hall was hired to teach part-time at Willamette University in Salem. He also worked part-time at the Allen Hardware Store and the R. L. Elfstrom Company department store to bring in additional income while his wife, Phyllis, worked at the Oregon State Library. He was Willamette’s Artist in Residence and a professor of painting, drawing, printmaking, and design until his retirement in 1986.

Hall was associated with the Julien Levy Gallery in New York during the 1940s. This relationship began during Hall’s army deployment as his father, Walter, served as the executor of Hall’s works and managed the transportation of paintings with Julien Levy. Hall's solo exhibition at the Levy Gallery in 1947 resulted in the purchase of his painting Cradles by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. As a Magic Realist painter, Hall used traditional techniques of drawing, modeling, and glazing to create detailed and structured paintings that combine clear textures and forms with coastal or valley mist. His style contrasted greatly with the Northwest modernist painting practiced by contemporary artists Charles Heaney, C.S. Price, David McCosh, and William Givler. Hall showed his work in juried national exhibitions and many regional exhibitions. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Swope Art Museum (Terre Haute, Indiana), Wichita Art Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Boise Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art (La Conner, Washington), Whatcom Museum (Bellingham, Washington), Phoenix Art Museum, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (University of Oregon), Schneider Museum of Art (Southern Oregon University), Portland Community College, and Reed College. The Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon houses an extensive collection of Hall’s paintings and sketches and includes the Carl Hall Gallery of Pacific Northwest and American Art, which is named in recognition of his long career at Willamette University.


16.5 Linear Feet (30 boxes)


The Carl Hall papers document the art and teaching careers of Carl Hall from 1940-2008. This collection includes World War II correspondence between Hall and his wife and family, as well as, sketches by Hall during his service in the Philippines and Okinawa, Japan. It also includes an extensive collection of Hall’s drafts and published manuscripts, essays, and articles concerning art and life philosophy.


The records are arranged into six series: I. Art career, II. Teaching career, III. Writing, IV. Correspondence, V. Family records, VI. Books and periodicals. Series I (Art career) includes five subseries: A. Galleries and exhibitions, B. Resumes and artist statements, C. Art, D. Publicity, and E. Grants and awards. Series III (Writing) includes four subseries: A. Manuscripts and essays, B. Poetry, C. Articles, and D. Personal writing. Series IV (Correspondence) includes three subseries: A. World War II, B. Art-related, and C. Personal. Files are arranged in original order, chronological order, and alphabetical order.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library
Guide to the Carl Hall papers, 1940-2008
Finding aid processed by Jennifer L. Gehringer and Stephanie Milne-Lane.
© 2019
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Processed with funds provided by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission's (NHPRC) Access to Historical Records grant.

Repository Details

Part of the Willamette University Archives and Special Collections Collection Descriptions

Mark O. Hatfield Library
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 United States