Oral history interview with Bertha Holt

Oral history interview with Bertha Holt [Sound Recording 01] Oral history interview with Bertha Holt [Sound Recording 02]

Identity elements

Reference code

SR 1059

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Oral history interview with Bertha Holt


  • 1984 (Creation)


.1 cubic feet; 1 audiocassette (50 min., 57 sec.)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Bertha Marian Holt was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1904. She attended the University of Iowa and earned a nursing degree around 1925. In 1927, she and Harry Spencer Holt, her cousin, were married. Growing up in a large family, she had always planned to have a large family of her own. The couple had four children and adopted eight from South Korea. The couple lived in Firesteel, South Dakota, until 1937, when they settled in Lane County, Oregon. Together, she and Harry Holt founded the adoption organization Holt International Children's Services in the wake of the Korean War. They successfully lobbied to change the laws surrounding international adoption. Bertha Holt tells her family's story in the book "The Seed from the East." She died in 2000.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This oral history interview with Bertha Holt was conducted by an unidentified interviewer circa 1984. The interviewer's questions have been edited out.

In this interview, Holt discusses her early life and marriage to Harry Holt. She speaks at length about adopting children from South Korea and founding Holt International Children's Services with Harry Holt. She talks about the death of Harry Holt. She describes her passion for her work facilitating intercounty adoption from South Korea.

The audio recording ends with a 1961 audio letter that Harry Holt sent to Martha Sue, one of the children whose adoption he helped to arrange. In the audio letter, Holt talks about his work helping orphaned children in Seoul, South Korea, and tells the story of Martha Sue's adoption process.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Copyright for this interview is held by Holt International Services. Use is allowed according to the following statement: In Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

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Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

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Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

An additional interview with Bertha Holt, SR 1060, and the Bertha Holt photographs collection, Org. Lot 1025, are also held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Notes element

General note

Preferred citation: Oral history interview with Bertha Holt, SR 1059, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Finding aid based on DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), 2nd Edition.

Sources used

Archivist's note

Sarah Stroman

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Accession area