Skip to main content

Idaho Enterprise

Oneida Pioneer Museum Welcomes New Portraits

According to the Idaho Heritage Trust, the Oneida Pioneer Museum has the best collection of pioneer-era crayon portraits in the state of Idaho. No, these are not portraits created with kids’ wax Crayola Crayons. Crayon portraits were popular from 1840 to 1915 and were formed from a weak solar enlargement of a photographic negative image that provided the base for extensive handiwork by an artist in charcoal or pastel. The finished piece gives the appearance of a drawing or painting of the person.

Recently five portraits that had been donated to the Museum were hung high on the walls, joining approximately 70 other portraits.  The subjects of these portraits are William Henry Richards (1860-1928) and his wife Catherine Ann Jones Richards (1861-1916), Henry Thomas (1841-1917) and his wife Sarah Isabel Morgan Thomas (1842-1918), and Mary B. Evans (1908-1997). 

While a few of the portraits in the Museum’s collection are photographs, the majority are crayon portraits that require careful conservation to prevent discoloration from sunlight and harm from handling.  DiAnne Iverglynne, a professional portrait conservationist, has painstakingly prepared most of the Museum’s collection to last for another 100 years. Grants from the Idaho Heritage Trust, the Idaho State Historical Society, the Idaho Community Foundation, and the Union Pacific Foundation have paid for the preservation work, which can run as high as $400 per portrait.  A grant will be sought soon to pay for conservation work on the 8-10 portraits needing that work.

If anyone has a portrait of an Oneida County native that dates back to the early 1900s, please consider donating it to the Museum so that it can be displayed as part of the collection. Sometimes old pioneer portraits are considered too old or in too bad of shape to be of value, but conservationists can work miracles on these priceless portraits of people important to the history of Oneida County.