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Guide to the Olesen Family Papers ; Olesen Family Papers


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Guide to the Olesen Family Papers 1887-1984

Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Overview of the Collection

Title: Papers
Creator: Olesen Family
Creator: Ella Letitia Olesen, 1894-1985
Creator: Peder Christian Olesen, 1845-1938
Dates: 1887-1984
Quantity: 2 cubic feet
Abstract:Personal and business correspondence; deeds, mortgages, and other legal papers; financial records; records concerning rental property in and around Moscow; and other papers of Ella Olesen and her father Peder Christian Olesen (1845-1938). Also documents and other papers concerning Ella Olesen's travels.
Identification: MG177
Language: EnglishDanish
Repository: University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives
Moscow, ID 83844-2351

Arrangement and Description

The material in this Manuscript Group was in no apparent order when received, therefore a series order was imposed during processing.The papers were first separated by the generator of the records, then each group was organized by type of record. Tax returns of Peder's wife Margaret are included with his papers, while all property taxes through 1936 are with Peder's papers, property taxes from 1937 are with Ella's papers.The correspondence of Peder Olesen was first separated by language--Danish or English--then each was arranged chronologically. The Danish correspondence is personal in nature, whereas the English correspondence concerns his various financial transactions. Most is incoming, but from 1914 some outgoing letters are also included.The financial records include check registers, property tax receipts for both Whitman County, Washington and Latah County, Idaho, from 1887 to 1936; income tax returns; and financial journals in which he kept detailed records of household expenses.The legal papers include leases, deeds, mortgages, and applications for loans which he presumably bought from the banks. Also included are two early wills. Items in each folder are in chronological order.Other Peder Olesen papers include correspondence regarding the estate of Margaret's brother John Teare, items relating to the Masonic Lodge to which he loaned money for a new building, papers concerning land use on a farm in Lenville, a map of his home town of Esbjerg, Denmark, and an undated Third Ward Primary Ballot on which he is listed as a candidate.The correspondence of Ella Letitia Olesen is personal in nature and was easily separated by subject. The general correspondence includes several items of interest: her letter of appointment to the stenographic staff at the University of Idaho dated 1915; a 1936 letter from history professor Frederick Church giving details of his stay in Poland; and the letters she wrote in 1944 to other registrars telling them her reasons for resigning her position at the U of I. Others include the letters from state politicians on the occasion of her 90th birthday, letters concerning her donation of an organ to the Methodist Church and letters of condolence on the deaths of her parents.The financial records include papers concerning the estates of her parents, receipts from her world travels, property tax receipts and income tax returns. The property records deal with the purchase, rent, and improvements on the Cronk farm in Steptoe, two houses and a business in Moscow.Other papers include passports and other travel documents, photographs, poems she collected, ration books, a list of her relatives, and items concerning the University of Idaho and the Preparatory School.Paid checks and bank statements were discarded as were greeting cards without written notes. In all the records were reduced by 0.5 cubic feet.

Scope and Content

The papers of Ella Letitia Olesen and Peter Christian Olesen span the years 1887 to 1984, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1900 to 1970.

The papers include correspondence, financial records, property records and other legal papers, and papers related to Miss Olesen's travels and other interests.

Administrative/Biographical History

Peder Christian Olesen, the son of Ole and Ella Christiansen, was born near Esbjerg, Denmark on May 29, 1845. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to learn the tailor trade, but he never followed the profession. Under the Danish law requiring compulsory military training he spent 22 months in the army.

In November 1872 he became the first, and only, member of his family to emigrate to America. After spending one year in Illinois he journeyed west where he spent time railroading in California and Nevada. He came to the Inland Empire in 1879 and settled in Moscow in 1881 where he worked with Charles Moore managing a flour mill. He acquired property in and around Moscow and assisted others, many around Grangeville, by loaning money.

On March 24, 1892, he married Margaret Elizabeth Teare, 1860-1948, who was born at Ballaugh, Isle of Man and came to the United States in 1890. They had one daughter, Ella Letitia.

Peder Olesen was a member of Paradise Lodge no. 17, A.F. & A.M., being the first initiate after its installation.

He died January 17, 1938.

Ella Letitia Olesen was born in Moscow, Idaho, March 12, 1894, the only child of Peder Christian and Margaret Elizabeth (Teare) Olesen. She attended Moscow schools and graduated from the University of Idaho Preparatory School in 1911. She attended the University of Idaho, and although she never graduated, was considered a member of the class of 1915 and attended its reunions.

She was appointed to the stenographic staff of the university on July 1, 1915, and from May to September 1918 was secretary to the Home Economics Director, U.S. Food Administration for Idaho. On October 1, 1918 she was appointed secretary to University President Ernest Lindley, a position she held until being appointed Recorder on October 1, 1920. She also served as the first secretary of the administrative council created to head the junior college which existed at the university at one time. Her title as Recorder was changed to Registrar in 1924 and she remained in that office until her resignation in August 1944.

In 1971 she established a scholarship for young women, with preference given to those from Denmark and the Isle of Man. Olesen Hall, a residence hall for women at the University, is named for her. In February 1981 she established a trust fund for the University of Idaho Library, the income of which is used for the purchase of library books and materials.

She enjoyed traveling, often going by freighter, collecting fabric and momentos as she went. She had a large collection of teaspoons representing the countries she visited.

She was a member of the Methodist Church, to which she donated an organ, the Order of the Eastern Star, and a life member of the Latah County Pioneer Association.

She died in Moscow on February 4, 1985.


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Scandinavian Americans

Olesen, Ella Letitia, 1894-1985--Archives.
Olesen, Peder Christian, 1845-1938

Land titles -- Idaho -- Moscow
Real estate investment -- Idaho -- Moscow -- History -- Sources

Moscow (Idaho) -- Economic conditions -- Sources

Secretary to University of Idaho President Lindley; then recorder and later registrar of the university, 1920-1944.

Administrative Information


The papers of Ella Letitia Olesen and her father Peder Christian Olesen were donated to the University of Idaho Library by the heirs of Miss Olesen in August 1985.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I. Peder Christian Olesen Papers 1887-1948
A. Correspondence 1889-1917
1/11/1In Danish 1889-1908 40 items
1/2-31/2-3In English 1894-1917 214 items
B. Financial 1887-1948
1/41/4Check Registers and Deposit Books 1892-1923 33 items
1/51/5Receipts, Invoices, etc. 1889-1918 41 items
1/61/6Property Tax Receipts, Whitman County, Washington 1888-1903; 1934-1935 16 items
1/7-81/7-8Property Tax Receipts, Latah County, Idaho 1887-1936 192 items
1/91/9Income Tax Returns, Peder Olesen 1919; 1931-1937 24 items
1/101/10Income Tax Returns, Margaret E. Olesen 1938-1948 36 items
1/11-151/11-15Financial Journals 1890-1923 5 items
C. Legal Papers 1885-1927
1/16-171/16-17Leases, Deeds, etc. 1885-1927 100 items
1/181/18Abstracts of Title undated 2 items
1/191/19Loan Applications 1904-1908 9 items
1/201/20Wills of Peder Christian Olesen 1892-1905 2 items
D. Other Papers 1892-1938
1/211/21John Teare Estate 1892-1893 25 items
1/221/22Masonic Lodge No. 17 1916-1937 6 items
1/231/23Lenville Farm 1916-1938 14 items
1/241/24Miscellaneous undated 2 items
Series II. Ella Letitia Olesen Papers 1908-1984
A. Correspondence 1915-1984
1/251/25General 1915-1983 73 items
1/261/26Birthday Greetings 1984 6 items
1/271/27Christmas Card and Gift Lists 1950-1974 3 items
1/281/28Christmas Letters 1956-1976 14 items
1/291/29On the Death of Peder Olesen 1938 42 items
1/301/30On the Death of Margaret Olesen 1948 62 items
2/312/31Sent to Ella in Europe 1958 26 items
2/322/32Methodist Church Organ 1959-1963 40 items
2/332/33Travel Arrangements 1956-1962 14 items
B. Financial Papers 1908-1974
2/342/34Estate of Peder C. Olesen 1938-1939 24 items
2/352/35Estate of Margaret Olesen 1948-1950 49 items
2/362/36Early Financial Papers 1908-1910 4 items
2/37-402/37-40Receipts from Travels 1956-1974 281 items
2/412/41Property Tax Receipts 1936-1945 54 items
2/42-492/42-49Income Tax Returns 1931-1963 423 items
C. Property 1924-1962
2/502/50Specifications for House at 482 Ridge Road 1961 20 items
2/51-522/51-52Cronk Farm 1935-1955 331 items
2/532/53Cronk Farm, New House 1953-1954 40 items
2/542/54Wilmes Farm Purchase 1936 27 items
2/552/55Rental Houses on 7th Street 1924-1962 36 items
2/562/56Rental of 501 Main Street 1924-1955 65 items
D. Other Papers 1911-1981
2/572/57Passports and Other Travel Documents 1951-1978 13 items
2/582/58Photographs 1954-1981 5 items
2/592/59Poems undated 16 items
2/602/60Ration Books, etc. 1942-1944 19 items
2/612/61Relatives of Ella Olesen 1966-1973 9 items
2/622/62University of Idaho 1911-1977 15 items
2/632/63Latah County Pioneer Association Certificate undated 1 item
2/642/64Registrars' Associations 1944-1956 14 items

Profile Description

Creation: Encoded by ArchProteus2003
Language: Finding aid is in English

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