May 19, 2016

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Glacier National Park

The glacial peaks of northwest Montana had been home to Blackfeet, Salish and Kootenai peoples for hundreds of years, and later became popular with whites for fishing and hunting. Gradually, word of the area’s unique beauty spread. Efforts to protect it began as early as the 1880s, simultaneous with the expansion of the Great Northern Railway, which constructed lodging, transported visitors, and promoted the park to tourists. In 1924, surveying begins for the Going–To–The–Sun Road, one of the first National Park Service projects intended specifically to accommodate motor vehicles.

Key dates

1855—The Lame Bull Treaty establishes the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
1880s—George Bird Grinnell works to establish a park.
1891—The Great Northern Railway crosses the Continental Divide at Marias Pass.
1895—Chief White Calf of the Blackfeet sells 800,000 acres to the U.S.
May 11, 1910—President Taft signs the bill creating Glacier National Park. Annual visitation is around 4000.
1932—Going–To–The–Sun Road completed.
1940—Annual visitor count exceeds 177,000.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: glacier park, lake mcdonald, great northern railroad, blackfeet indian reservation

Written by Catherine W. Ockey
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May 16, 2016

News from the MHS Research Center - May 2016

by Molly Kruckenberg, Research Center Director

A monthly report of cool new (and sometimes old) collections, reference resources, and projects that you might be interested in.

Addition to Online Resource

Two new newspapers (The Roundup Record, 1914-1919, and the Weekly Montanian from Thomson Falls, 1894-1896) have been added to Montana Newspapers.  Check them out!  In the next few months we will add newspapers from Polson and Big Sandy to the site.

Cool Online Resources Available for Use

Check out the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which harvests information and thumbnail images of multi-media resources across the nation and presents this information on a single platform for you to browse. To date almost 80,000 materials about Montana are available through this database with a little over half of the materials contributed through the Montana Memory Project. It definitely behooves the careful researcher to search the DPLA for topical or regional information.

  • While databases are wonderful tools for discovery, sometimes information needs to be presented in different ways for it to be meaningful. The DPLA presents all the metadata (information about information objects) in the database with an API (Application Programming Interface) which has allowed various app developers to build cool new tools for researchers to use.
  • Test your favorite search term or play with the visualization features of one of the many apps available through the DPLA. We like the Term vs. Term app which allows us to see which search term will have more effective results. Of course the Visual Search Interface is also really cool to use, too, as is the DPLA by County and State… there are many to choose from, have fun!

Summer Intern

Daisy Dyrdahl-Roberts has joined us for the summer.  She is working with our rolled map collection producing a complete inventory and physical arrangement of the collection. She will catalog priority maps, digitize select maps, and learn about conservation and care. Thanks to the MHS Outreach and Interpretation program and Kirby Lambert for shared support of this position. Additional interns will be joining us over the summer – look for information on them as they arrive.

Some Neat Things We’ve Been Working On

Senior Archivist Rich Aarstad just completed teaching a semester-long Montana History class at Montana Tech (see his recent blog post). He reports that it was an incredible learning experience, taking what we do at the Montana Historical Society and translating it into a classroom setting. Congratulations, Rich!

Come Visit Us to Use These Collections and Explore Montana History!

May 12, 2016

There's Trouble A-brewin': Montana's Brewers and the Anti-Prohibition Movement

By Anneliese Warhank, Archivist and Oral Historian

Three men posing as researchers, carrying what they claimed to be instruments to test the wind velocity climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty and draped two sixty foot black crepe banners to show their opposition to prohibition. This act of civil protest, 90 years ago this past Sunday, made front page news across the county. The men reportedly belonged to an organization known as the World War Veterans’ Light Wine and Beer League[1]. This organization, along with many other organizations and individual citizens across the country opposed the absolute prohibition of alcohol, which was enforced from 1920 to 1933 as the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although organized opposition to Prohibition eventually led to its repeal, why didn’t these so-called “Wets” gather this support prior to 1920? Although a number of factors played into the passage of prohibition, the lackadaisical efforts made by the men of the brewing industry resulted in a lack of leadership for those who felt the country would not benefit from such a law.

The pro-temperance supporters (Drys) had been in this country since Colonial times, but the movement really began to gain speed with the creation of groups like the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.), the Prohibition Party, and the Anti-Saloon League (ASL). Organized in Ohio in 1893, the ASL differed from other pro-temperance groups in that it was a non-partisan, interdenominational organization that united people on a single common cause who may not have agreed on other matters, something that had stymied the efforts of similar organizations. Its founder, Howard Hyde Russell, called for a “…statewide network of local agitators knowledgeable in both local affairs and temperance politics…”[2]  Talks such as the one given by John Woolley and Rev. George Morrow at the First Methodist Episcopal church in Missoula on March 27, 1914 were well attended. These men painted the manufacturers of alcohol as vermin by saying such things as, “…the chase will never cease until the old rascal has been caught and skinned and his pelt hung on the barn.”[3]

Kessler Brewery touted the health benefits of its beers, claiming
you'd notice its health benefits in the glow of health on your cheek.
Helena Independent, June 29, 1900 
While the Drys grouped together to gather support from the general population, the Wets failed to assemble as unified a front. Of all the groups representing the Wets, the brewers were some of the most powerful men, and Montana had its fair share of them. The discovery of gold in the state brought both prospectors in search of their fortune, and brewers to supply them with beer. The Virginia Brewery (later the Gilbert Brewing Co.) in Virginia City, one of the first documented breweries in Montana, opened in 1863, the same year gold was discovered in Alder Gulch. By the turn of the century, these men felt the need to organize, meeting for the first time as the Montana Brewer's Association (MBA) in 1902[4]. As the pro-temperance movement gained ground, brewers fought to counter the arguments of the ASL by painting beer as the more "temperate" alternative to hard liquor. Newspaper ads like the one produced by Kessler Brewery described their beer as a refreshing tonic[5]. But unlike the ASL, the MBA and the American Brewers Association, failed to incorporate members of the general population into their fight against Prohibition. A great example of this can be seen in the 1915 correspondence between Charles Kessler and A. A. Lathrop. He goes as far as warning Kessler that without gathering assistance from all those who opposed prohibition, he would be in a hurt of trouble[6]. Despite sending multiple letters offering his services for pamphlet writing, Mr. Kessler clearly did not take these letters seriously, describing them as "entertaining"[7].

Mr. Lathrop's passion for assisting is not just evident in the text of his letter, but in his handwriting.
Incoming Correspondence from AA Lathrop. Kessler Family Papers. MC 161. MHS Research Center Archives.
Other groups who opposed prohibition attempted to make their voices heard as well. The Montana Commercial and Labor League, led by bankers, liquor manufacturers, and labor leaders took out full page ads in newspapers[8] and distributed pamphlets across the state warning of the effects prohibition would have on the economy[9]. Religious leaders like the Rev. Martin D. Hudtloff, pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Butte proclaimed the pro-temperance movement actually drove people away from church[10].  Many of these critics were dismissed because of the ethnic and religious prejudices involved in the pro-temperance movement. For example, Montana brewers (and brewers in general) often were descendants of German immigrants. Likewise, a predominant portion of members of the Lutheran church also had German roots. These divisions also contributed to the lack of unity within the opposition to temperance.

There are a number of other factors that played into the Pro-temperance movement, but ultimately the ASL held the power because they had the most influence over the progressive politicians of the time. The common man held little power in comparison. However in a democratic society, one likes to think that when the silent majority speaks up, leaders listen. Perhaps if the brewers & the rest of the Wets had unified & rallied the masses, the 1920s may truly have been a more temperate decade.

Has this post “w(h)et your appetite” for more information about Montana’s brewing history?  The Lewis & Clark Brewery, in conjunction with the Montana Historical Society, is hosting a Montana brewery theme trivia night on May 18th. For more information, check out the Helena Craft Beer Week website.

[1] “Wets Drape Statue of Liberty in Crepe.” Kalispell Daily Inter Lake, May 8, 1926. 
[2] Kerr, K. Austin. "Organizing for Reform: The Anti-Saloon League and Innovation in Politics." American Quarterly,
      Spring 1980, 37-53.
[3] “Root of All Evil is Failure to Vote.” The Daily Missoulian, March 28, 1914.
[4] "Brewers Flock to Butte to Form an Organization" The Butte Intermountain, April 16, 1902.
[5] June 1906 Helena Newspaper
[6] A.A. Lathrop Letters to C. Kessler Sept.-Dec. 1915. Kessler Family papers. MC 161. 11/20. Montana Historical Society
      Research Center. Archives. Helena, Montana.
[7] Dec. 5, 1915 Letter. Letterpress book. Kessler Family papers. MC 161. 16/1. Montana Historical Society Research
     Center. Archives. Helena, Montana.
[8] "Talking of Taxes" The Glasgow Courier. January 28, 1916.
[9] Keep Montana prosperous : what will state-wide prohibition cost you? Montana Commercial and Labor League.
[10] "This is Plain Talk" The Glasgow Courier. February 4, 1916.

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May 5, 2016

Survey Time: Tell Us What You Think About This Blog

Brought to you by the Montana History Revealed Administrators

The last several months have brought many changes to Montana History Revealed.  New administers came on board. The Topics in Montana History series started.  We made the decision to include more posts giving a “behind the scenes” look at the work we do here at the Montana Historical Society. In adiditon, we were asked as part of an examination into the social media strategy of the Historical Society to revisit what the main purpose, audience, and goals of this blog are. That’s when we realized that we don’t really know who is reading this blog and why.
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April 29, 2016

A Public Historian's Flirtation with Academia - Teaching HSTA255 at Montana Tech

Rich Aarstad
Senior Manuscript Archivist
Montana Historical Society

History is the study of the past, but not for the past’s own sake. …Only if we utilize the past to comprehend the present and engage the futures is its study worthwhile” - Harry Fritz, Professor Emeritus at the University of Montana.

Main Hall, Montana Tech, Butte, MT
Photo courtesy of Rich Aarstad
This quote formed the basis of the final classroom assignment for HSTA255 at Montana Tech.  The students were asked to defend the statement in the context of one of the individuals covered in that day’s presentation.  Below is an answer using Mark Twain’s letter to Hezekiah Hosmer asking for information regarding the lynching of Jack Slade.

It is very difficult for me to describe interesting, because I am a solver.  When I look at history it seems like a puzzle on a table that is missing pieces.  If I knew that under the table would be my satisfaction then I would be a happy historian.  However, even if I had every piece and the skill to complete the puzzle I fear the trouble would only be the beginning.  Twain says that he had breakfast with Slade and survives.  He still calls him a friend and asks for information about him ten years later.  The complete puzzle may show a Slade that was so rambunctious that he was hanged, but so polite as to offer coffee to a guest.  This is not interesting to me; it’s difficult to swallow.  If I consider Fritz’s quote I can only know for sure that things are complex and not on the surface. 

P.S. I’ll be under the table, looking.

 As you can imagine I was delighted with the student’s argument; it showed depth, humor, and critical thinking.  This came at the end of a semester filled with conflicting expectations and shifts in classroom instruction.

Final classroom assignment HSTA255
Photo courtesy of Rich Aarstad
When I was asked two years ago, by Doctor Chris Danielson, tenured professor of history at Montana Tech in Butte, whether I would be interested in teaching a Montana History class while he was on sabbatical in Spring 2016, I agreed with little pause or trepidation. I was intrigued about presenting Montana history in a college classroom setting.  I planned to introduce my students to use of primary sources and the excitement that the real deal brings to history.  Calling on my MHS colleagues, my students learned about interpreting primary sources such as archival documents, photographs and newspapers.  However, while I had envisioned a course centered on student led discussions driven by their three burning questions based on the reading assignments, reality quickly derailed this expectation.

HSTA255 Classroom exercise
Photo courtesy of Rich Aarstad
The class met once a week, and on that second day the vast majority claimed they had no idea how to access the assigned articles through the Tech library in spite of me going over that on the first day. I stressed once again how and where to find the readings listed on the syllabus and emphasized the importance of completing the readings each week.  And then I lectured for two-plus hours. Halfway through the semester the majority of the students were still not completing, or often even attempting, the reading assignments.  As a result, I shifted from the three burning questions scenario to classroom writing assignments based on the readings. This change prompted an impromptu but spirited debated between the advocates for Helena and Anaconda for state capital; an interpretation of the historical content and context of two D.J. O’Malley poems; defending or castigating Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin for her “no” vote against declaring war in 1917. 

This history class would be the first and likely last one these Tech students would take and in some instances it also represented the closest thing to an English comp class they would experience.  I did not realize the implications of this scenario when I planned the class.  The cultural shift in education that stresses math and science above all else was readily demonstrated by the students' disinterest in reading and lack of critical thinking and writing skills.  For well-rounded students who are prepared for the 21st century job market, an H(umanities) should be added to the acronym creating STEHM.  I certainly hope Montana Tech and the Montana historical Society can partner up again for the 2018 spring semester of HSTA255.  Montana history and the skills humanities classes teach definitely have a place at the academic table.