On September 13, 1888, Fred Hultstrand. was born in his family's
sod house in Osnabrock Township of Cavalier County, Dakota Territory.
His parents were Anders and Johanna, who had immigrated from Gilleberg,
Sweden, in 1882. Anders, a blacksmith by trade, filed on a homestead
in Osnabrock Township in 1885. There were six children in the family:
Annie, who was born in Sweden, Mandus, Fred, Bernard, Andrew, and
Alfred. The Hultstrands were members of Highland Lutheran Church.
The children attended Soper School in Osnabrock Township, and Fred
only spoke Swedish when he began school.
1905, when Fred was 17 years old, he was introduced to photography
when he saw a neighbor developing negatives. Later that year he began
processing his own negatives in the cellar of the family home. Soon
after his exposure to photography, Hultstrand knew that he wanted
to become a photographer. While managing the family farm with his
older brother, Fred went to the nearby town of Milton, N.D., where
he paid $25 to become photographer John McCarthy's studio apprentice.
In 1909 he left for Wallace, Idaho, where he photographed lead and
zinc mines for Barnard's Studio. He worked without pay so that the
studio would hire him and teach him the trade of photography. Hultstrand
returned to North Dakota in the fall of 1910 to earn money by helping
a brother with harvest activities. Throughout his years of learning
photography he worked at odd jobs including railroader, logger, steam
engineer, thresher, farmer, carpenter, and blacksmith to earn enough
money to cover day to day expenses. In 1910-11 he studied photography
at the Illinois College of Photography at Effingham. While there he
experimented with some of the first color film available. He received
his degree on August 1, 1911. He was then off to Portland, Oregon
to gain more experience in photography. Returning to North Dakota
in 1912, Hultstrand bought the Milton, North Dakota, studio where
he had once apprenticed. After
two years at Milton he went for additional schooling at the Chicago
Art Institute. Before settling permanently in North Dakota, he went
to Canada to work for a short time at a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, studio.
On November 14, 1917, when Hultstrand was 29 years old, he married
Evangeline (Eva) Baker from Osnabrock, North Dakota. Eva was born
on the Baker family farm near Osnabrock on January 21, 1892. Her parents
had emigrated to that area from Ontario, Canada, in 1885. Eva earned
her teaching certificate at the Valley City (N.D.) Normal School,
now Valley City State University, and taught in rural Cavalier County
schools prior to her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Hultstrand had two children,
Victor Fred and Donna Jean.
purchased the photography studio in Park River, North Dakota, from
Peter Ostboe in 1916. He would work at the Hultstrand Studio the rest
of his life. In addition to portrait photography, the studio offered
framing and film processing services. He also had a great interest
in early radios and from the back room of the studio he built and
sold radios from 1924 to 1944. Hultstrand was known to spend hours
at a time at his re-touching desk, as every portrait had to meet his
very high standards before it could bear the Hultstrand Studio insignia
and leave the studio. In the 1920s he hired two sisters, Thelma and
Sylvia Wick, to work as studio assistants. Thelma also did the hand-painting
in oil of Hultstrand's photographs. The sisters remained at the studio
until it closed upon Hultstrand's death in 1968. After spending a
year going through all the photographs Hultstrand had ever taken and
the office records, the studio was sold. It then became a bank and
later a beauty shop.
The photographs that Hultstrand made, collected, and displayed showed
his desire to preserve North Dakota history. He was very interested
in early farm life and small town life in the state. Hultstrand knew
that a way of life was disappearing. As he stated, "I've been trying
to record what has been, because I knew it would rapidly change."
And change it did. He wanted to save and share photographs taken in
the late 1800s and early 1900s with generations to come so that the
past would not be forgotten. He also liked to contrast early photographs
and late photographs in regard to subjects such as farming and trains.
Hultstrand believed that seeing history through pictures could be
just as important as reading history in books. He began collecting
historic photographs very early in his career. In the 1960s he held
two public exhibits of his framed collection at the Park River (N.D.) City Hall Auditorium.
In addition to working as a photographer, Hultstrand also served
his community. He served as the mayor of Park River from 1938 to 1946,
a school board member for thirteen years of which five years he served
as president, a member of the Park River Commercial Club and served
as its president, and a member of the Park River Fire Department.
He was also a 32° Mason, a member of the Shrine at Kem Temple in Grand
Forks, N.D., and a Past Grand Noble in the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows. His early avocations as a young man included playing the
guitar, horseshoe, and tennis.
In 1937 Hultstrand served as president of the North Dakota Photographers'
Association. In 1962 the United States Treasury Department used one
of the photographs in Hultstrand's collection to serve as the basis
for the design of a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the
Homestead Act. The stamp featured the John Bakken family standing
outside their sod house near Milton. At the North Dakota Photography
Convention in Fargo in 1965 he was selected as North Dakota's Photographer
of the Year and recognized by the Professional Photographers of America
for outstanding achievement. Hultstrand's work drew international
attention after his death. In 1975 Norway issued a stamp to commemorate
the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Norwegian emigration to
America. Norway's stamp was based on the same photograph as that used
for the U.S. stamp.
died at age seventy-nine on June 28, 1968, and Eva died at age seventy-eight
on September 22, 1970. Their son, Victor Fred, attended North Dakota
Agricultural College in Fargo, now North Dakota State University,
graduating with a degree in agriculture in 1940. But it was aviation,
not agriculture, that inspired him. After graduating from college
he served as an aviator in the United States Navy, rising to the rank
of commander. He married Doris Sandiford, and they had two children,
Victor and Robert. In February 1957 he was killed in a crash near
Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, while testing a new helicopter.
Fred and Eva's daughter, Donna Jean, graduated from Mayville (N.D.)
State Teachers College, now Mayville State University, and taught
at Carrington, N.D. She married L. Nolan Verwest and moved to a farm
near Finley, North Dakota. They have two children, Loree and Lisa,
and live there still today. Donna Jean received, through
her father's will, his framed photograph collection, the Fred Hultstrand
History in Pictures Collection, which she in turn donated to North
Dakota State University.