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Calbreath Family papers

Identifier: Ax 193

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection contains correspondence to and from various members of the Smith and Calbreath families. The correspondence documents the regular business and personal goings-on of the families. Of particular note are 368 letters sent from Helen and Evelene Calbreath to their parents from 1907-1909, mostly from Europe while the two were studyinig music in Berlin. Notable correpondents include Gustavus Hines, Annie Brady, Helen Cummins, A.M. Girffith, Addie Lewelling, Reuben Lambert, George W. McBride, William Brady, Kathryn Meisle Franklin, Rubin Goldmark, Roy Thomas Bishop, and Marion Lou West.

Also contained within this collection are account books kept by Sidney Smith, diaries and daybooks kept by Smith and Calbreath family members, and manuscripts of prose and poetry written by Irene Smith Calbreath. The collection includes over sixty images, primarily 19th century portraits of friends and family taken by Oregon and San Francisco photographers.


  • Creation: 1839-1930


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

John Calbreath, born in West Virginia, came to Oregon with his family in 1865. Having attended Toland Medical College in San Francisco, he practiced medicine in Lafayette and McMinnville, Oregon. He married Irene Smith, daughter of Sidney Smith, an Oregon pioneer in 1874. From 1899 to 1908 he was superintendent of the Oregon State Insane Asylum beginning in 1900.

Calbreath was active in Republican party politics and served in the Oregon State Senate in 1895 and 1897. He went to St. Louis in 1896 as a delegate to the Republican National Convention, supporting William McKinley for the presidency.

Sidney Smith was born in Amsterdam, New York, on October 2, 1809. In 1839 he joined a group of men, known as the Peoria Party, and they headed off on a quest to settle the Oregon Territory. They were among the first people to travel on what would become the Oregon Trail. On August 2, 1845, Sidney Smith married Mianda Bailey, the daughter of newly arrived settlers who stayed with Smith while they acquired a claim for themselves. They had five children: Irene, Almira, Mianda, Gustavus, and John U. John U. Smith graduated from Pacific University in 1888

Mary Evelene Calbreath was born in 1895 in McMinnville, Oregon. She studied piano and violin in Berlin, Germany. When she returned to America, she shifted to studying vocal music. She worked for 10 years as an assistant to music teacher William Brady in New York before moving to Portland, Oregon. She worked as vocal teacher and was a member of the Oregon Music Teachers Association. She also composed a number of songs and pieces for violin and string quartet.


5.75 linear feet (9 containers) : 6 letter-size manuscript boxes, 2 legal-size manuscript boxes, 1 flat box 21x17x3

Language of Materials



This collection documents the Calbreath and Smith families, both pioneer families in Oregon. The collection contains incoming and outgoing correspondence, diaries, account books, day books, and manuscripts of poetry and prose by Irene Smith Calbreath.


The Calbreath Family Papers are arranged in the following series:

Series I: Sidney Smith Series II: Mianda Smith (wife of Sidney Smith Series III: Almira Smith (daughter of Sidney and Mianda) Series IV: John U. Smith (son of Sidney and Mianda) Series V: Mianda Smith (daughter of Sidney and Mianda) Series VI: Irene Smith Calbreath (daughter of Sidney and Mianda) Series VII: John F. Calbreath Series VIII: Evelene Calbreath (daughter of John and Irene Calbreath) Series IX: Helen Calbreath (daughter of John and Irene Calbreath) Series X: Miscellaneous materials Series XI: Helen and Evelene Calbreath outgoing letters to John and Irene Calbreath from Europe Series XII: Miscellaneous documents Series XIII: Photographs

Related Materials

Related materials can be found in the following collections:

National Republican Convention personal histories, CA 1896 July 1, Special Collections and Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

Associated material can also be found in:

John F. Calbreath papers, 1839-1931, Mss 1027, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Portland, Oregon.

Mary Evelene Calbreath papers, 1864-1962, Mss 1429, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Portland, Oregon.

Mary Evelene Calbreath scrapbook, 1933-1959, Coll 840, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Portland, Oregon.

Calbreath family photograph albums [graphic], circa 1860-1899, Org. Lot 1155, Oregon Historical Society Research Library, Portland, Oregon.

Processing Information

Papers processed by processing staff. Photographs processed by Megan Dazey.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Processing Information

Remedial processing, including replacing damaged boxes, foldering unhoused material, and spreading overstuffed material to multiple boxes was completed by Mahala Ruddell in February 2023.

Guide to the Calbreath Family papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by processing staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA