May 24, 2018

Campbell Farming Co. and the "Wheat King of the World"

by Kelly Burton, Film Archivist



Machinery in the Campbell Farming Co. fields (collection PAc 91-86)
The life of agriculturalist Thomas D. Campbell was largely defined by the merging of farming practices with those of large-scale business. Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Campbell applied his engineering education to the mechanizing of a 95,000-acre wheat farm on land leased from the Crow and Fort Peck reservations in Montana. As special adviser to the Soviet government in 1929, he assisted in the agricultural development of 10 million acres as part of Joseph Stalin’s first Five-Year Plan. Campbell subsequently served as a farming advisor to the British government and to the French government in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. He entered the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel in World War II at the age of sixty and was later named as a permanent brigadier general of the honorary U.S. Army Reserve by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Montana historian Joseph Kinsey Howard described Campbell as the “acknowledged ‘wheat king of the world’ and one of the most theatrical figures in public life” in 1949, stating that “praise and castigation have been equally intemperate and few have been able to make sense out of his complex character.” (1)



Thomas Campbell (left) greeting a farm visitor at the train station (collection PAc 91-86)
As a pioneer of industrialized corporate farming in the early decades of the twentieth century, Thomas Campbell distinguished his Hardin, Montana farming business by producing more wheat than any other. He expressed his approach to agriculture in the June 1928 issue of The Magazine of Business: “Farming should be considered as a manufacturing business, with a proper record of costs and a constant endeavor to reduce these costs. (2) There is no doubt but that the greatest industrial opportunity in the United States today is in agriculture and the biggest opportunity for the technical college man is in agricultural engineering. Some day there will be a farming organization comparable in size to United States Steel or General Motors, for food is the most necessary commodity of all.” (3)


Battling a straw stack fire at Campbell Farming Co. (collection PAc 91-86)
 The films that comprise the Montana Historical Society’s Campbell Farming Co. collection were shot between the mid-1920s and the early-1930s, and they demonstrate what Campbell considered one of his major contributions to industrial agriculture: the windrow method of harvesting. Doug Edwards, a Campbell Fellow researching in the MHS Archives, described Campbell’s orchestration of large-scale activities for the cameras: “The sequence of starting the combines, cutting the grain, and making a turn gives the impression of manufacturing precision: the farm as a factory. Campbell’s use of the movies to advertise his farming operations demonstrates his ability as a promoter. The ‘enginemen’ operated the tractors and combines in precise sequence for the cameraman, and Campbell had the cameraman focus on specific steps of the operation when he demonstrated his windrow method.” (4) In addition to recording harvesting activities, the films show other day-to-day operations such as the modification and repairing machinery in the company shop and battling the occasional fire in the farm’s straw stacks. Campbell can be seen throughout these films, greeting guests at the nearby Montana train station, eating lunch with his field crew, and traveling around the farm in his Stutz-Bearcat convertible.


Farmers in Russia (collection PAc91-86)
 While the primary function of the Campbell Farming Co. films was the promotion of industrialized and mechanized agricultural practices, Campbell also used the motion picture camera to document more personal moments with his wife and children. His daughters can be seen enjoying several outdoor activities in these reels, riding horses on their father’s Montana farm and visiting what is presumably the Columbia Gardens amusement park in Butte. Several members of the Campbell family also accompany the agriculturalist on his return consultation trip to Russia in 1930. Footage from this excursion shows the family making the ocean voyage, visiting various ports of call, and engaging with locals as they travel to farm sites across the Soviet Union.


Campbell's daughters on the Campbell Farming Co. property (collection PAc 91-86)
The Campbell Farming Co. films were donated to the Montana Historical Society by Phoebe Knapp Warren, Thomas Campbell’s granddaughter, on September 4, 1991. Originally shot by both Campbell and a larger production crew on 35mm cellulose nitrate film, the deteriorating and hazardous reels were transferred to new polyester stock in the late 1990s with the help of a Cultural/Aesthetic Project grant funded by the Montana Cultural Trust Fund. VHS copies of the films were created during the transfer to new stock, and these cassettes are available for viewing in the Historical Society’s Research Center.

Film production assistant with Campbell (front, center) and his work crew (collection PAc 91-86)

  1.  Joseph Kinsey Howard, “Tom Campbell: Farmer of Two Continents,’ Harper’s Magazine, March 1949: 56.
  2. Thomas D. Campbell, “What the Farmer Really Needs,” The Magazine of Business, June 1928: 725.
  3. Ibid. 752.
  4. MHS vertical file, Campbell Farms.


May 10, 2018

World War II in Sanders County

by Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Projects Librarian

Nameplate of the Sanders County Independent-Ledger, December 3, 1941
If you’ve ever looked at newspapers published during either world war, you know that typically newspapers become consumed by war news, most of it consisting of national coverage by entities like AP, instead of locally or even state produced news. While the Sanders County Independent-Ledger did have some national coverage, most of the 8 pages per issue remained focused on how the war affected Sanders County.
  
Sanders County Independent-Ledger, December 10, 1941, p1
I expected the Pearl Harbor attack to be the major headline in the issue following the attack, but there were no screaming headlines and only one direct reference: a proclamation by the County Commissioners declaring “ourselves in behalf of the people of this county, State of Montana, to be wholeheartedly in support of our government and will do everything in our power and capacity to repel, defeat and crush the enemy…” [1] There were two other articles related to the consequences of the attack. One called “Defense Steps” talked about a report written in late October or early November which concluded that while enemy bombing of Sanders County was unlikely, sabotage was a concern, especially the possibility that enemy agents could set forest fires thereby creating “a serious hazard to airplane operations” [2] and destroying the timber supply. To defend against this threat, another article informed readers that “The office of the Sanders County Defense Commission will be held open from 9:00 A. M. until 8:00 P. M. for the purpose of registering men for Guard Service in Sanders County, bridges, power lines, etc.” [3] After a little thought, it occurred to me that this issue was published on December 10, by which point most people had probably heard details about the attack from the radio so why would the newspaper spend precious space telling their readers what they already knew?
Sanders County Independent-Ledger, May 20, 1942, p5
With this local focus in mind, even the ads from national organizations seemed more targeted. There was a map (above) of the Official U. S. Treasury War Bond Quotas for May 1942 showing the amount to be raised by each Montana county. Meanwhile, the War Production Board focused their scrap metal drives on heavy farm equipment. Check out the bottom of this ad (below) where we learn what a tractor, a plow, a stove and a pump were each turned into.
Sanders County Independent-Ledger, June 9, 1943, p5
From how rubber and gas rationing was affecting business to the farm labor shortage, this paper - instead of just announcing regulations and orders - reported their consequences on the community. Still the country was at war, so of particular interest were the local boys serving in the armed forces. “If you are one of our subscribers and your son earns promotion let us know about it so we can mention him with the rest of the boys whom we are proud of” declared the newspaper. [4] Not only did they print draft registrations, enlistments, commissions, and promotions, as the war continued, letters written by the soldiers, sailors and airmen were printed. Occasionally these communications included poetry, my personal favorite being this one by Dave Grant.

 Sanders County Independent-Ledger, January 6, 1943, p1
Newspapers provide a glimpse into another time, and that view is never more powerful than when they show how big events impact their local communities.

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid

April 25, 2018

Les Jorud and "The Seventh Annual Vigilante Day Parade"

By Kelly Burton, Film Archivist

Costumed students from The Seventh Annual Vigilante Day Parade (collection PAc 90-50)


When speaking of photography in Helena, Montana, few names are as recognizable as that of Leslie H. Jorud (September 19, 1899 – August 21, 1977). Over the course of five decades, Jorud’s career in photography took him “into a cage with five lions, 275 feet up inside the smokestack at the AS & R smelter in East Helena, into morgues and operating rooms, into the wilderness alone with a nervous horse who wanted to go home, into a bucket over Canyon Ferry dam, down into mines, up steep mine shafts, in airplanes and to all the major events in Helena.”[1] In addition to the 50,000 negatives and 7,000 prints currently being processed in the Montana Historical Society’s Photo Archives, the institution is also home to 47 motion picture films created by the Jorud Family. These 16mm home movies span the early-1930s through the mid-1950s, and they provide contemporary viewers with a wonderful document of Montana culture during the first half of the twentieth century.

Costumed students from The Seventh Annual Vigilante Day Parade (collection PAc 90-50)

One of the major Helena events to be captured by the Jorud Family movie camera is the Vigilante Day Parade. Boasting elaborate costumes and floats that find a common theme in the region’s past, the event is perhaps better described as a mobile history pageant. A public letter from former Helena High School principal (and then-current Helena mayor) Albert J. Roberts in 1939 provides the most thorough narrative concerning the parade’s inception. Roberts claims to have inherited several school traditions that were “subversive to discipline, often lawless in character, and in the main hostile to the good work and reputation of the school,”[2] the worst being the ‘Senior-Junior Fight’. The activity moved to Helena streets and alleys after being banned by the school administration, and “a few boys each year came out of the fray with black eyes, bloody noses, teeth knocked out, faces scratched and bodies bruised, all for the honor of the ‘biggest and best class ever graduated from the Helena high school.’”[3] Other attempts to celebrate the end of the school year – ‘Sneak Day,’ ‘Old Clothes Day,’ ‘Hard Times Day,’ and ‘Costume Day’ – eventually became the Vigilante Day Parade: “After much serious discussion of the situation, and other readjustments of the entire activity program of the upper-classes, it was decided to put on a big historical pageant, in which every boy and girl in High School would have an essential part. The pageant, later called the Vigilante Parade, was intended to present in the main the adventurous life and colorful customs of the Montana Pioneer, especially the Pioneer of Last Chance Gulch. To the promotion, work and achievement of this program, the Senior and Junior classes gave their wholehearted support, a pledge, which to the present time has been faithfully and diligently observed.”[4]

Costumed students and spectators from The Seventh Annual Vigilante Day Parade (collection PAc 90-50)

While the MHS moving image archives contains several reels of the Vigilante Parade in various collections, the Jorud Family footage from May 16, 1930 represents the oldest and best-preserved film of the pageant at the MHS repository. Though only in its seventh year at the time of the film’s creation, the event garners a sense of civic enthusiasm that is echoed in the advance newspaper coverage: “The parade this year will equal or surpass that of preceding years, the boys and girls declare. The streets will be cleared of cars, and the juvenile burlesquers will be given the fullest latitude for their performances. Already the youngsters of Helena are excitedly discussing the Vigilante Parade as the next local event of superlative importance. It will be a grand and glorious event from all standpoints of the rising generation.”[5] The anticipatory article goes on to describe several of the entries to be captured by the Jorud Family camera, including the “old swayback horse and two-wheeled cart illustrating the rig of early days, the six-horse stagecoach of Canyon Ferry, a hangman’s float with a replica of Hangman’s tree, and a long string of pack mules lent by the federal government.”[6] At almost twelve minutes, the reel documents preparations by students on the day the parade, the passing of dozens of the historical entries along the pageant route, and audience reactions to many of the displays.

Costumed students and spectators from The Seventh Annual Vigilante Day Parade (collection PAc 90-50)

Home movies such the one created by the Jorud Family provide great insight into the evolution of our civic traditions – they allow us to see what has changed and what remains the same. Mayor Albert Roberts happily noted in 1939 that “thousands of our citizens have obtained a knowledge of the life and customs, of the thrilling story of the early days in the Treasure State”[7] through the Vigilante Day Parade. The 94th Annual celebration of the pageant takes place in Helena on May 4, 2018, and one supposes that Roberts would be still more excited to learn that his fledgling event is now nearing its centennial.

The hangman's tree and spectators from The Seventh Annual Vigilante Parade (collection PAc 90-50)

[1] Helena Independent Record, June 26, 1955.
[2] Helena Independent Record, May 28, 1939.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Helena Independent Record, May 7, 1930.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Helena Independent Record, May 28, 1939.

April 12, 2018

Ephemera 101: When are you going to clean under your bed?

By Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

ephemera 1 : something of no lasting significance 2 : paper items (such as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles

When mom ordered me to “clean under my bed,” she was not referring to the dust bunnies.  She was despairing over my teenage clutter: movie calendars, church bulletins, pamphlets, tickets, and so much more.  Fortunately, a lot of folks were not raised to worry about such clutter.  Rather, they collected and savored programs, advertisements, bulletins, and more. Some of these memorabilia find their way to the MHS Research Center’s Ephemera Collection.

Recently two pieces of ephemera from 1918 landed at the MHS Library.  These century old documents offer informative glimpses of Helena as well as Montana’s cultural environment.  The first is a theater program dated April 4, 1918 from Helena’s Marlow Theater. In hopes of understanding the context of the piece, I searched the 1918 Helena Independent. I discovered that just the day before, April 3, was the Marlow’s grand opening and Helena’s social event of the year!  Newspaper headlines described the “Capital Elite in Force.”  The sheer spectacle of scenery and costumes of “Show of Wonders” amazed the crowd.  However, the Independent critiqued the chorus as “young and pretty and shapely,” but “not a real voice in the lot.”  Also reported was a generous gift of $50.00 for “Red Cross Women to Attend Marlow Opening,” sent by the vacationing Senator T. C. Power. [1]

Advertisement
The Helena IndependentApril 3, 1918
Marlow Program
April 4, 1918
MHS Research Center Ephemera Collection



























The program itself delivers a plethora of historic information.  It lists the schedule for the Marlow in the coming weeks, from vaudeville and musical performances to “black face comedians” and drama.  Fisher’s Millinery, the State Nursery & Seed Company, and Montana Phonograph Company are just a few of the dozens of businesses advertised.  The leaflet also lists the Theater’s stockholders and firms connected to the Theater’s construction.  In short, the program offers an exciting glimpse into Helena’s businesses, society, and the era’s entertainment culture. [2]

Montana State War Conference, May 28-29, 1918
MHS Research Center Ephemera Collection

The second booklet is for the May 28-29, 1918 Montana State War Conference, coincidentally, held at the recently christened Marlow Theater. Numerous delegate organizations are listed.  Governing bodies such as the Red Cross, Liberty Loans, Federal Food Administration, Extension Bureau, and County Councils of Defense are predictable.  The presence of groups such as YMCA, Rotary Clubs, and Knights of Columbus reflects the depth of mainstream participation. The Conference’s patriotic goals were highlight by musical performances of Marseillaise, America, and Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Newspaper reports emphasize the diversity of backgrounds represented by speakers. They included Lt. Paul Perigord, a Catholic priest turned soldier, and Dr. James A. B. Scherer, Lutheran Minister and expert on Japanese relations.  The Independent declared that “in Montana, politics, religion, sex and creed have been forgotten.” The common goal was to “help the national government win the war.” [3]   The many organizations represented at the Conference played integral roles in not only uniting Montanans, but in monitoring and regulating individual behavior. 

While the Marlow program creates images pertaining to 1918 recreation and entertainment, the Montana State War Conference pamphlet reminds readers of the countless organizations and coordinated efforts necessary to win the war.  Two very different perspectives of 1918 Montana, both accessed through items not meant to last a house cleaning – ephemera. 


[1] “Helena Theater Opened, Capital Elite in Force,” pg. 1 & 7,  “Senator T.C. Power Gives $50,” pg. 8, Helena Independent, April  3,1918.
[2] See Montana Historical Society Research Center Ephemera Collection, “Helena (Montana)-Theatres-Marlow Theatre.”
[3] “History is Debated by Councilmen,” Helena Independent, May 28, 1918, pg. 1 & 6.


April 2, 2018

National Boot Day...Montana-Style, April 13, 2018


Barbara Pepper-Rotness, MHS Research Center Library Technician

April 13th is #NationalBootDay and we are celebrating it Montana-style…with cowboy boots, of course! Visit us April 13, 2018 wearing your western-style boots to receive free admission.

Also, we are creating a new Pinterest board dedicated to this day and we need your help! Read below to learn how you can play our Facebook sweepstakes and participate in this collaborative collection.

The picture of the cowboy boots below is our most popular image on Pinterest and is the inspiration for our #NationalBootDay event.
Image: MHS Museum #2004.47.01
Play to win:
  • Two books published by the Montana Historical Society Press
    • A Tender Foot in Montana, by Francis M. Thompson, ed. by Kenneth N. Owens
    • Charlies Russell Roundup, ed. by Brian Dippie
  • One issue of Montana The Magazine of Western History
  • Several postcards from our store
  • MHS bookmarks and pencils from the Research Center

Play to win:
Gifts you could win (minus the boots)
Image by Tom Ferris, MHS Photographer

Enter Sweepstakes:
  • Go to our Facebook Page to enter.
  • Add one clear, close-up image of your cowboy or western-style boots (boots only, no people) in the Comments field of our April 13 #NationalBootDay Facebook post. Submissions for the contest will be accepted through 5:00pm on April 16th.
  • “Pick a Winner”, a third-party app sponsored by Woobox, will randomly select a winner at 5:01pm (MDT) April 16th.
  • Photos will be displayed on our Pinterest #NationalBootDay…Montana-Style board*.
 *During the month of April, you can watch our Pinterest ‘channel’ set to the #NationalBootDay board. Click on the Pinterest tab (no mobile access) on the left side of our Facebook Page and watch this gallery grow!

Well-worn cowboy boots
Image by Tom Ferris, MHS Photographer
Eligibility:
  • Must be eighteen years or older to win.
  • Must be a resident of the United States to win.
  • We reserve the right to remove any images that contain faces, names, profanity, nudity, hateful or political content. Removal of your image will nullify your eligibility.
  • Employees of MHS are restricted from entering contest. 
Conditions:
  • No purchase necessary to win.
  • Playing this game is not required to receive free admission to the museum on April 13th; nor, is admission to the museum contingent upon entering the contest.
  • Must access our Facebook Page to play.
  • Submit one clear (not blurred) image, 600 x 900 pixels minimum for Pinterest.
  • We will not use names for any purpose other than to notify and announce the winner.
  • Winner will be notified by April 17, and winner will be announced (after verifying his/her compliance with our official rules) on Facebook no later than April 30, 2018.

Disclaimers:
  • By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook and Pinterest from any liability in connection with this contest.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, associated with, or administered by Facebook, Pinterest, or, other social networks.
  • By adding your image in the Comments field of our #NationalBootDay Facebook post, you are granting MHS permission to use image on other social media.
  • Prize has no cash value.