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Myra Albert Wiggins papers

Identifier: WUA046

Scope and Contents

The Myra Albert Wiggins papers contain personal items such as Wiggins' diaries, a letter opener, her eyeglasses and her camera. Also included are notes, awards and estate information. Correspondence includes letters between Myra Wiggins and various family members and friends as well as letters related to business. The collection contains albums and scrapbooks with poetry and photographs, sketches, photographs, copies of published works, and artifacts.


  • 1890-2015
  • Majority of material found within 1890-1956


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials in this collection are 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

Myra Jane Albert was born on December 14, 1869 in Salem, Oregon to John Henry Albert and Mary Elizabeth Holman, the second of four children. She showed natural artistic talent at an early age, spending hours drawing and painting in her home and in fields around Salem. She won the first of many awards for painting at the Oregon State Fair when she was 17. Between 1886 and 1907 she won a total of 94 more state fair awards for her art.

Wiggins attended Willamette University and Mills College before studying at the Art Students League of New York from 1891 to 1894. There she took classes from William Merritt Chase and John Henry Twachtman. She returned to Salem during the summers and in the summer of 1892 became engaged to Fred Wiggins. She and Wiggins were married on November 24, 1894 in Salem, and their daughter Mildred, was born in 1896.

Wiggins was one of the first women to become a member of the The Camera Club of New York. Her years in New York provided an artistic base to which she frequently returned. New York was quite different from the relative artistic isolation of Oregon and Washington. However, life in Oregon did provide a lot of pictorial photographic opportunities. Pictorial photography is using the camera for aesthetic purposes by creating images intended to evoke emotional expression, a relatively new phenomenon at the time. In 1903 Alfred Stieglitz, one of the most important photographers of the time admitted her as a member of Photo-Secession. Photo-Secession was an opportunity for photographers to unite in the common cause of promoting photography as art. Her work as a pictorial photographer continued as she traveled to Europe, Egypt and Turkey.

In 1907 the family moved to Toppenish, Washington so Fred Wiggins could start a plant nursery business. In 1930 Wiggins co-founded the Women Painters of Washington. She was a vital force in the region’s art activities through her lecturing and classes. Public interest in her work led Wiggins to spend more time in Seattle, and in 1932 she and her husband moved to the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood. She continued to paint and practice photography while he worked for a local floral company. Both her photographs and paintings were shown in many important exhibitions during her life. She had one-person shows of her paintings in Chicago, New York and the Larson Museum in Yakima, Washington and individual paintings hung in group exhibitions in Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, many with honors and awards.

She was actively painting up until the time of her death on January 13, 1956.


12 Linear Feet (12 boxes)


The Myra Albert Wiggins papers consist of biographical materials, correspondence, publications, news clippings, writing, drawings and photographs. The collection also contains diaries, scrapbooks, personal artifacts and published works by Wiggins.


Specific arrangement for each series is described below.

Physical Location

Mark O. Hatfield Library

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accessioned in 2012, 2013, and 2015.
Guide to the Myra Albert Wiggins papers, 1890-2015
Finding aid processed by Nina Kulander.
© 2013
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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