September 25, 2015

Homicide in Montana Territory: An Initial Look

by Jeff Malcomson, Photograph Archivist

Studying homicide in Montana's territorial period opens a window into the society being constructed during Montana's early period from 1864-1889.  It gives context to the popular story of vigilantism in
Montana, and emphasizes the level of violence, and particularly lethal violence, endured by Montana's early residents.

While many homicides related to on-going vigilante justice in both Helena and surrounding Edgerton County (changed to Lewis and Clarke County in 1869) and the farming areas of Gallatin County around the fledgling town of Bozeman, property disputes and personal quarrels also led to lethally violent encounters.  The ubiquitous nature of firearms in territorial Montana also meant that many intense disputes would lead to bloodshed.

The tables included here, taken from a presentation made Sep. 26 at the Montana History Conference in Bozeman, show the statistics gathered through initial research into homicide in Montana Territory.  The standard among criminologists and historian's of homicide is to calculate the homicide rate as a figure per 100,000 residents.  The threshold for a high rate of homicide, according to one expert, is 9 homicides per 100,000, and a rate of 34 per 100,000 is considered extremely high.  Through the use of newspaper accounts in the Montana Post from 1864-1867 and coroner's inquest records from early Lewis and Clarke County, we can see astronomically high rates of homicide in the earliest days of the Territory.  We also see reduced rates of lethal violence in the latter 1880s in Lewis and Clarke County approaching that 9 per 100,000 threshold as statehood approached for Montana.

More research will follow, and a more complete picture of the history of lethal violence in Montana Territory should help us to understand the widespread violence found in our early history and why it occurred.

September 11, 2015

Evelyn Cameron and L.A. Huffman Photographs on the Montana Memory Project

by Tom Ferris, Archival Photographer

Hugh and Elinor Baker (PAc 90-87 G016-005) Evelyn Cameron, photographer
The Montana Historical Society invites you to view our latest addition to the Montana Memory Project. With the help of a grant from The Montana History Foundation we have been able to digitize and upload 1,300 photographs and records from the Evelyn Cameron and L.A. Huffman collections. As two of our most iconic and dynamic photographic collections, they showcase many aspects of life in Montana from the 1880’s to the 1920’s.

Layton Alton Huffman began his solo photography career as the post photographer at Fort Keogh after working for F.J. Haynes, official photographer for Yellowstone National Park, in Fargo, North Dakota. He opened his own studio in Miles City in 1879 and became well known for photographing cowboys, Indians, soldiers, and the last of the buffalo hunting in Eastern Montana.

L.A. Huffman Photographs
Red Sleeve (#981-579)
Montana Man Hunters of the 70's (#981-167)

Killing of a Buffalo (#981-011)

Evelyn Cameron came to Montana in 1893 with her husband Ewen intending to breed horses  for shipment back east and to Europe. This venture failed and Evelyn pursued her career in photography as well as running the Eve Ranch. Her photographs capture the lives of people and friends around Terry and Fallon, Montana in a candid and direct manner. They also document the changing times from the early ranching scenes to the arrival of the railroad.

Evelyn Cameron Photographs
Baker's Shearing Pens (PAc 90-87 G004-004)
Janet Williams on Yalu (PAc 90-87 G003-005)



The majority of the images from each collection were scanned at high resolution from original negatives which are mostly 5”x7” to 8”x 10” glass plates and nitrate negatives. Some are smaller format negatives and a few images were made from vintage prints if the negatives are not in our collections. It is great to get these original materials scanned as digitization is one of the most useful preservation tools available to us - once the original materials are properly stored, stabilized, and cared for. Here is an example of a scanned negative of Camerons’and the image made for use from it.
Bill Foght and Cap Baker
(PAc 90-87 L004) Negative Image
Bill Foght and Cap Baker
(PAc 90-87 L004) Positive Image


As important and informative as the photographs themselves are,  the records and information that accompany them   provide key information for researchers and  other interested viewers. The grant funding provided by the Montana History Foundation enabled us to hire contract workers who made the addition of this data possible. The images are also being uploaded to the OCLC Digital Archive (Online Computer Library Center) for long term preservation. In addition, having these images available online makes them much more accessible to those who can not travel to the Montana Historical Society.
We hope to post more information about these photographers and others in our collection in the near future but for now here are a couple of links which will take you directly to the Cameron (Cameron Photographs MMPand Huffman (Huffman Photographs MMP) images on the Montana Memory Project, where you can also explore other facets of Montana History from many institutions across the state. Happy Trails!

August 24, 2015

Saving ticket stubs for the future

by Katey Myers, Summer Intern, MHS Library

Archivists deal with all types of materials in collections, from maps to letters to books and other priceless materials. Many of the materials that archivists work with on a daily basis are one of a kind and simply irreplaceable. With so much history to keep and preserve, what happens to things like a brochure you would pick up at a convention or symposium or the travel information you find as you pass through a town? 

Ephemera is defined as any transitory written or printed matter meant for eventual repression; or paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles. These items may seem insignificant to us right now; however, in the future they will give archivists and historians a glimpse into the past. 

Over the course of my summer internship at the Montana Historical Society, I have had the chance to work with and organize the large collection of Ephemera that resides here. With nearly one-thousand different topics covered in the Ephemera collection, there is something of interest for everyone. Topics range from cities in Montana to railroads to wars and even sled dog races.

While adding to these ever growing files, I have found a few of my favorite items. The first would be a ration booklet (above) that was distributed during World War II. These booklets were distributed by the U.S. Office of Price Administration after the U.S. entered the war. The purpose of these booklets was to dictate the quantity of certain goods a family or person was allowed to buy. Two of these booklets, issued to Montanans, reside in the Ephemera files. 
In 1937, a gentleman wrote to the State of Montana requesting information about the state. He was answered with a packet full of information concerning all parts of Montana. While only a small portion of the packet is shown (right), the entire contents of the packet, as well as the original envelop, are housed at the MHS Research Center. 

A customer walking into Helena’s Holter Hardware in 1915 might have seen a stack of colorful John Deere catalogs sitting on the counter. Many of these catalogs include brightly colored illustrations as well fold outs of the newest products John Deere had to offer. This catalog (below) and many more are in the Ephemera files.

Nineteen thirty-three saw the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Northern Transcontinental Railroad by the Northern Pacific Railway Company. This drawing (below) was a commemoration of that anniversary. The Northern Pacific Railway file contains two of these commemorative drawings.

This is just a small sampling of the thousands of items that are included in the Montana Historical Society’s Ephemera collection. This collection is ever growing as theater tickets, catalogs, tourist brochures, menus, train schedules, and more are continually added to this form of historic record.

August 10, 2015

The Art and Science of Map Conservation and Preservation

Samantha Cook, Summer Intern, Montana Historical Society Archives

Archivists are tasked with preserving and providing access to historically significant records to anyone and everyone. Sometimes those records are in such bad shape that preservation work is required to allow access to the objects. Conservation and preservation work is time-consuming and challenging because there is no single approach that works for every object. This map is an example of the trial and error process that often occurs and makes archival work so fun and challenging.

The Antonioli family has been involved in mining in the Philipsburg and Butte-Silver Bow County areas since the early 1900s. Between 1998 and 2003, William Antonioli, with permission from his two brothers Frank and Peter, along with other members of the family, donated records and 608 maps related to the Antonioli family’s work in various mines. The maps in this collection have been in need of preservation work for many years.  My summer internship has allowed me to be involved in this process.  I recently completed a survey and inventory of the map collection in preparation for conservation work on those maps requiring immediate care.

This map (below), entitled, Mill Drawing, was the most in need of urgent attention. The map was in pieces and therefore difficult to measure and re-roll.  A complete description for the inventory wasn’t even possible until I could begin the conservation work.  It was the worst piece in the collection and the first I prioritized for conservation.
Mill Drawing  #103 before conservation
 MHS Archives Collection MC 417. Antonioli Family Map Collection
Photo credit: Samantha Cook
When I moved the map to the conservation lab, I was not sure how to approach the work. Not only was the map in pieces and made from a delicate and fine paper, it was also covered in dirt, dried mold and other materials from being used in the mines (yuck!). The condition of the map made it barely legible. My first step was to clean the map using a soft-bristle paint brush and a small piece of a soot sponge.  After I had removed a majority of the surface dirt and grime from the front and back of the map, I went to my next step of attempting to mend the drawing.
Mill Drawing #103 during archival
 taping conservation process
Photo credit: Samantha Cook
Since this drawing was in so many pieces and had been rolled for the past 20 years, mending the map was no easy feat, and required various approaches. First, I attempted to put archival tape on the map, which was a failure; the minute I lifted my hand from pressing the tape down the drawing would curl and tear into pieces again.

Because the map kept rolling, State Archivist Jodie Foley and I determined that the map needed to be flattened. We put the map under blotter paper, placed two flat boards and four weights on top and left it for twenty-four hours. The next day when I removed the wood and weights, I realized they had not made any difference on the map. I decided to attempt to mend the drawing again using larger pieces of archival tape. This stabilized the map a little more, but it was still very unstable. I returned the map to the flattening position with the wood and weights and waited a week. 

Mill Drawing #103 map during heat-sensitive taping conservation process
Photo credit: Samantha Cook
After a week, I removed the weights and determined the archival tape was still not strong enough. We decided to try archival heat-sensitive tape. This process involved tearing strips of heat-sensitive tape and ironing it on to the backside of the map (left), much like an old fashioned patch. We hoped that it would adhere to the paper and mend the map correctly. 

This process successfully mended the drawing, making it ready for encapsulation with polyester film to truly preserve and protect the map for many years of future use.

Mill Drawing #103 map after conservation and encapsulation
Photo credit: Samantha Cook
As this essay attests, archival work is an art and a science, in which good old fashioned trial and error helps to stabilize damaged records so archivists can conserve and preserve them and provide access to everyone. 

Thank you to the Antonioli family for this generous donation!

July 27, 2015

New Index to Montana's Historical Newspaper Ads

by Christine Kirkham
Coordinator, Montana Digital Newspaper Project

"The Bar is stocked with the finest Liquors and Cigars. Give me a call, boys."

So reads an ad for the Gem Saloon in 1876. MHS Research Center volunteer Josef Warhank has spent the last two years compiling an index to adverts in The Yellowstone Journal (Miles City), 1882-1891, and The New North-West (Deer Lodge), 1869-1885. This wonderful spreadsheet (searchable and sortable!) is a boon for researchers looking for businesses, products, and people. Josef has collected from each ad the following data:

business name and address
products sold
personal names in ad
other text in ad
date ad appeared

Click here to use the Index.
Note that businesses in Anaconda, Bannack, Billings, Blackfoot City, Bozeman, Butte, Cedar Junction, Edwardsville, Emmettsburg, Helena, Philipsburg, Pioneer City, Virginia City, Willow Glen, and Yreka also placed ads in these two newspapers.

Josef's index is now available online along with links to other newspaper indices on our website. Click the link "Index to Advertisers in Montana Newspapers (XLS)." As Josef continues to work on this project, more newspapers and date ranges will be added. Please spread the word and use this wonderful new resource!