Cal Olson leaves a rich visual legacy documenting the people and life in North Dakota and western Minnesota while chief photographer and later managing editor of Fargo, N.D.’s Forum newspaper from 1950 to 1978. This visual legacy has now been entrusted by his family to NDSU’s Institute for Regional Studies Archives. Cal Olson’s work reflects the very essence of the National Press Photographers Association, of which he served twice as its president, dedicated to the advancement of visual journalism and to promote its role as a vital public service.
The Cal Olson collection of over 8,000 negatives reflects life in Fargo, Moorhead and the Red River Valley, featuring newsworthy events of the era. It includes his award winning photographs taken of the 1957 Fargo tornado, North Dakota Indians, the Vietnam War, North Dakota politics and politicians, people at work and play, and one of his greatest passions, hunting and fishing.
The images currently available online are but a glimpse of Cal Olson’s work. It will continue to grow as additional negatives are digitized by the Institute staff.