August 9, 2018

Hooverizing in Montana during the Great War

Shortly after the United States entered World War I in the spring of 1917, Herbert Hoover was appointed head of the U.S. Food Administration. As such, he oversaw the coordination of food production and conservation of food supplies for the war effort. The Administration’s education and promotion proved so successful in stirring national conscience about food rationing that the term ‘Hooverizing’ became synonymous with a national stamp of approval for economizing food. Below is the main structure of what was expected while Hooverizing your meals.

In reaction to federal and state propaganda and the narrowing definition of patriotism, Montana’s women and communities steadfastly applied themselves to Hooverizing. To prove their patriotism and raise monies, women’s groups published community cookbooks filled with appropriately rationed recipes and literature.

At least three of these 1917-1919 cookbooks have survived and are housed in the MHS Research Center Cookbook Collection. From Butte, Missoula, and Hot Springs, the books offer endless insights into the women’s sphere and how they interpreted Hooverizing. The first two shown below have been digitized and are on the Montana Memory Project (see each link beneath its corresponding title cover).
[Ladies' Aid Society Cook Book. First Baptist Church. Butte, Montana, 1917. CKB 641.5 F519L 1917] On MMP

[Red Cross Cook Book. Hot Springs Red Cross Society. Hot Springs, Montana, 1918 CKB 641.5 H797R 1918] On MMP

["War Winning" Recipes. Young Ladies Sodality. St. Francis Xavier's Church. Missoula, Montana. 1918. CKB 641.5 St109W 1918]
Could you go a full week of Hooverizing? Maybe you already do cut back on wheat, sugar, and meat. But, which of these recipes would you, or do you, use on a regular basis? Try them out and let us know what you think. Notice that most recipes have names, or use terms, associated with the war and with Hooverizing!

Check out our board on Pinterest dedicated to the #HooverChallenge, where we can review each recipe and share more recipes with one another. We would love to hear from you about the challenge; about any of the recipes; about any recipes you share with us; about whether you know of a Montana cookbook from that era that we don’t have; about anything related to World War One and Hooverizing on food! Let’s get cookin’…

 World War One ‘Hooverizing’ Recipes
 Save the waste, control the taste;
Eat corn bread and rye,
Meatless days, wheatless days,
Eat less cream and pie.
For our Allies’ sake, cut out the cake,
Save food, and win – or die;
Keep fighters fit, this is our bit,
And that is the reason why…
[from: Red Cross Cook Book, p.13]


Scotch Broth
5 cups water
5 tbs. rolled oats
½ can tomatoes
1 small onion diced
2 small potatoes diced
Salt and pepper to suit taste. Cook about 1 hour until onion and potatoes are well done.
            Mrs. Mary Kimball, who made this notation next to this recipe:  Good
               War Winning Recipes, Young Ladies Sodality, of St. Francis Xavier’s, Missoula, MT, 1918, p.21.

Conservation Soup
Put 1 tbs. butter in sauce pan, slice in a small onion, let simmer slowly until onion is soft, but not brown.  Now add any small bits of left-over vegetables you may have, also cooked rice or oatmeal, season to taste with salt, pepper, a bit of bay leaf or anything you may like, simmer slowly until ready to serve, add milk or cream and milk, to make enough needed, heat to boiling point and serve; 2 rolled crackers added just before serving is an improvement.
               Mrs. Belle Vanderhoof, Hot Springs, Mont.
               Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.17

Woodrow Wilson’s Okey Hash
Cook a piece of lean beef or other meat till very tender, take meat out of broth, when meat is cold run through food chopper or chop fine.  Heat broth to boiling and stir in barley groats as for mush, stir in as much as you can with a spoon, add chopped meats, let cook for 3 or 4 hours on back of stove or in double boiler, or fireless cooker.  This can be eaten fresh or warmed up same as hash or cold potatoes. 
          Mrs. Belle Vanderhoof, Hot Springs, Montana
          Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.20.

Allies. Left-Over meat
1 pint any cold meat or fowl.  Cook together a few minutes, ½ cup water or stock and 2 tbs. bread crumbs, add 2 tbs. cooking oil or butter, the meat, seasoning and 2 well beaten eggs, fill well greased custard cup or gem pans, stand in pan of boiling water in oven and bake 15 or 20 minutes.  Sauce—1 tbs. butter, 1 tbs. flour, ½ cup milk and ½ cup stock or water, mix well, put on stove, stir till boiling, remove and add yolk of one egg, salt and pepper and strain into serving dish.  Turn Allies into sauce, and garnish with triangles of toasted bread.
           Mrs. T. G. Demer, Hot Springs.
           Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.18

“O woe is me,” cried Mrs. Rye
On Wheatless, meatless day,
“What shall I fix that isn’t meat?”
We answer, just this way:
[from: Red Cross Cook Book, p.23]

Liberty Salad
1 small head cabbage, 1 medium sized onion, 5 cold boiled potatoes, 3 slices fat bacon or fat from ham, chop onion and cabbage fine together, dice potatoes finely, then mix with cabbage and onion, dice bacon and fry crisp, mix all together, pouring grease from bacon over all while still hot.  Dressing— ½ tps. Salt, ½ tps. Pepper, ½ tsp. mustard, cup of vinegar, if too strong weaken with water, mix and pour over salad.  Can omit potatoes and add either cold dried beans or cooked string beans.
          Mrs. C. Maher, Hot Springs.
           Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.24

General Pershing Salad
Mix ½ cup grated cheese with 1 cup whipped cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add 1 tbs gelatin dissolved in 1 scant cup water. Put into molds rinsed with cold water; when jelly begins to harden sprinkle with grated cheese. A nice change can be had by adding any small quantity of any preferred minced green vegetable, such as chives, green onions, parsley, etc., but only a small quantity, and minced fine, some salad fruits also can be used, chopped apples and celery, bananas and celery, or a very little orange. Serve with French or cream dressing. During war time possible French will be more appropriate.
          Mrs. C. Maher, Hot Springs, Mont.
          Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.24

Side Dishes

Carrots and Onions, La France
Carrots sliced, not too thin, boil in salted water till tender. Cut up onion and fry in hot drippings, pour about 1 cup into pan with the onions, let come to boil, thicken with cornstarch stirred up in cold water, cook till slightly thickened, add carrots, drained cook up, add pepper and sald.
               Mrs. Alex Howell, Rosalia, Wash.
               Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.29

Tomatoes en Camouflage
Slice nice large ripe tomatoes, lay two or three slices on each plate, on lettuce, mince up green onions, radishes, parsley, sweet green peppers and cucumbers, mix well together, and sprinkle over tomatoes and pour over them any good salad dressing, dressing like for the tuna fish salad is good. Any of the above things can be omitted but onion.
          Mrs. S. L. Oliver, Spokane, Wash.
          Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.25

Cakes, Cookies, Pies
Milkless, eggless, butterless cake
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. water
1/3 c. lard
2 c. seeded raisins
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves

Boil all 3 minutes. When cold add ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp soda dissolved in a little water.  Add 2 c. flour sifted with ½ tsp. baking powder.  Bake in slow oven.  Also served hot as a pudding with sauce. 
        Hand-written recipe inside cover of War Winning Recipes, Young Ladies Sodality of St. Francis Xavier’s,                   
        Missoula, MT, 1918

Wheat-less Chocolate Cake
½ cup fat, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 cup syrup, 3 eggs, ¾ cup milk, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup rice flour, 2 cups barley flour, 6 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 squares chocolate.  Cream the fat, sugar and egg yolks.  Add the syrup and mix well, add alternately the liquid and dry ingredients sifted together, add flavoring and melted chocolate. Fold in well beaten whites.  Bake 1 hour, starting in moderate oven, after 20 minutes raise heat. 
          Florence Hotel, Missoula, Mont.
          Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.48

Liberty Angel Food
Whites of 4 eggs, ¾ cup powdered sugar, ½ cup pastry flour, 1/3 tsp cream of tartar, beat whites stiff, then beat the other ingredients in, bake in moderate oven.
          Mrs. Dave Hyre, Hot Springs, Mont.
          Red Cross Cook Book, Hot Springs Red Cross Society, 1918, p.41

 War Breads

The ad above, from the May 31, 1918 Hardin Tribune, alludes to the fact that war bread might not go down very well. Below are some recipes for war bread that you can try. Let us know if you could ‘stomach’ them.

War Bread
Two large cups whole wheat flour, 1 large cup white flour, 2 cups bread sponge, 2 tablespoons dark molasses, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons shortening, ¾ cup warm water, salt, mix, let rise once, then put in tins, let rise and bake; makes two loaves.
          Mrs. Ed Mergel

War Bread
Set a sponge at night with 3 pints potato water (warm), 3 pints flour mixture, 1 cake compressed yeast.  In the morning add lard size of an egg, 2 tbs. sugar, 1tbs. salt; enough flour mixture to knead stiff.  Let rise until light, about 1 ½ hours, then mold into loaves when light.  Bake 1 hour.  This will make 3 good loaves.
          Mrs. R. Klinager
           War-Winning Recipes, Young Ladies Sodality, St. Francis Xavier’s, Missoula, 1918, p.2

Contributors to the #HooverChallenge Project include MHS staff members Maggie Ordon, Curator of History; Molly Kruckenberg, Research Center Director; Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian; April Sparks, Government Records Archivist; and Barbara Pepper-Rotness, Reference Librarian.

And, if you are looking for a home for your Montana WWI era cookbooks (or, other Montana cookbooks), you can contact Zoe Ann Stoltz at 444-1981 or

July 26, 2018

Bob Vine and the Anaconda Copper Mining Company of the 1960s

Kelly Burton
Film Archivist
Montana Historical Society

A tour group at an Anaconda facility, circa 1960s (PAc 2008-102)

In his 1986 interview for the Montana Historical Society’s oral history project ‘Metals in Montana: Industry and Community in the 20th Century,’ lifelong Montana resident Bob Vine discussed his relationship with the town of Anaconda and its namesake company: “I’ve been in Anaconda since 1950 when I got out of college. I taught art and English in the high school for seven years. And then joined the company in June of 1957 as an artist. Subsequently I went into communications and training. I was personnel director in Anaconda, personnel director in Butte. Then I became director of education and development for the entire Montana operations.” (OH 925, p. 2) Vine worked for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company and ARCO smelter in Anaconda from 1957 to 1983, and during that time he developed an enduring respect for the individual workers and the communities at large. In addition to providing MHS with two in-depth oral histories (OH 925 and OH 1676) on the mining industry after his retirement, Vine also produced a history of Anaconda’s first women smelter-workers at the Washoe Reduction Works of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company titled “Women of the Washoe” (978.687 V75W) and a centenary celebration of the town entitled “Anaconda Memories 1883-1983” (PAM 1567).

 Bob Vine’s most distinctive and voluminous contribution to the historical record of Montana exists not on the printed page, but rather within thirty-nine canisters of 16mm motion picture film. Donated to MHS by the Vine Family in 2008, this film collection (PAc 2008-102) adds up to approximately 10,000 feet – or five continuous hours – of regional moving image history about the mining industry. Most of the films created and collected by Vine were shot during the 1960s, and these color and black and white reels cover a wide range of activities related to Anaconda Copper during a turbulent decade for the company. Extensive notes on the original film canisters provide a wealth of detail regarding content, and the choice of subject matter throughout demonstrates Vine’s desire to temper his industrial images with more human scenes from the greater mining communities.

Blasting at the Berkeley Pit, circa 1960s (PAc 2008-102)

The footage created by Vine consists primarily of mining and smelting processes at various Anaconda sites, and the 1960s saw ACM trying to balance rising costs with diminishing profit margins. Bonner Lumber Mill, the Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway, and the Anaconda Reduction Department are just a few of the many subjects documented by Vine. Canister labels provide meticulous – and occasionally dramatic – program descriptions, as evidenced by this small section from a canister note about filmed Berkeley Pit activities in Butte: “changing truck tires with overhead crane; trucks being loaded; top rim of pit NE of viewing stand; pit from above; powder truck; overhead view of shovel; blasting crew; powder truck; BLAST!” The editing/splicing methodology employed by Vine is not always apparent, however – images from rugged outdoor locations such as the Berkeley Pit are occasionally and incongruously followed by bureaucratic scenes in departmental offices and sterile control rooms.

An Anaconda Company control room, circa 1960s (PAc 2008-102)

The Bob Vine film collection also covers some of the less routine aspects of working life at the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. Awards ceremonies, contests, training sessions, and stockholders’ meetings at the Washoe Theater on Anaconda’s Main Street are just a few of the events listed on the collection’s canister labels. Communications and education played a large role in Vine’s career with ACM, and we also find several commercials that were made to emphasize the more human side of the company. These commercials often used footage taken from community events sponsored by ACM, such as the Smeltermen’s Union Day at Washoe Park, Children’s Day at Butte’s Columbia Gardens, and public tours through the plants themselves.

Smeltermen's Union Day at Washoe Park in Anaconda, MT, circa 1960s (PAc 2008-102)

Eight films from the Bob Vine collection have recently been digitized by MHS in cooperation with the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana as part of an evolving multimedia project pertaining to Montana and its history. These films can now be found on the MHS Moving Image Archives YouTube playlist: MHS Moving Image Archive.

July 18, 2018

Making Happy Kampers: Documenting the History of KOA

by Jodie Foley, Montana Historical Society State Archivist

What does summer mean to you?  Hiking, swimming and picnics?  For most of us summer is the time to hit the road and explore as a family.  One of the most familiar sites folks see as they travel our highways is the big yellow and black KOA sign.
KOA signs have called to weary travelers since the 1960s, but many don’t know that the company behind the sign has its origins in Montana.
[Dave Drum, Life Magazine, September 29, 1972]
In 1962 Dave Drum, local business man and entrepreneur, noticing the high number of travelers heading for the Seattle World’s Fair, decided to set up a campground on his property just outside of Billings.  Following on that successful summer, Drum surveyed his visitors asking what they thought of the facilities, location and to give general impressions of the campground.  The enthusiastic responses encouraged Drum and his new partners to think bigger and by 1969 they had expanded Kampers of  America into a network of over 250 modern campgrounds across the county.
1967 KOA Directory
Unknown family at the Billings KOA, ca.1960s

In time KOA’s bright yellow logo became synonymous with America's modern ideas of camping—hot showers, concession stores, swimming pools, game rooms and other amenities meant to make camping accessible and attractive to a larger audience.

Today there are nearly five hundred KOA campgrounds, either corporate or franchises, in the United States and Canada.  
2016 KOA Directory
Much of the success of the company lies in its ability to promote both its services, its franchise model and its overall mission in bold color.
KOA promotional materials
With the donation of these records, researchers can now learn more about a company that has been dedicated to making “Happy Kampers” for over 50 years.  Come see this and many more collections that explore Montanans' love affair with the great outdoors!  A description of the collection can be found in our catalog at
"We're Happy Campers" coaster, no date

July 2, 2018

The Sun Gave Man The Power

by Kelly Burton, MHS Research Center Film Archivist

When the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence was celebrated nationwide in 1976, the Montana Bicentennial Administration was charged with coordinating the event’s commemoration at a state level. Over three hundred projects were considered by the Bicentennial Administration in the years preceding the celebration, each with its own unique narrative and set of requirements. One of the few organizations to apply for motion picture funding was the Sun Foundation, a non-profit based in rural Washburn, Illinois. Formed in 1973, the Sun Foundation’s mission has been to “strengthen and advance the arts and environmental sciences in rural and urban communities by providing quality and innovative programs, services, publications, research, regranting financial support, and cooperative efforts for the general public, underserved groups, schools, Illinois artists, and local arts organizations.”[1] Founders Bob and Joan Root Ericksen approached the Bicentennial Administration at the end of 1974 with a film about the Piegans of northwestern Montana. Beginning as a slideshow with accompanying narration and oral history interviews, the Sun Foundation hoped to expand the project into a longer informational film about the Piegan tribe: “The purpose of this project is to produce a film of historical relevance and authenticity for educational use in curricular studies of American history, Native American culture, and environmental arts. The film would utilize oral histories given by elder members of the Pikuni-Blackfeet tribe of Montana, and present documentation of the historical and religious heritage of Blackfeet tribal life through the narrative of scholars.”[2]

Still image from The Sun Gave Man the Power (collection PAc 2018-16)

Still image from The Sun Gave Man the Power
(collection PAc 2018-16)
Produced with partial grant assistance from the Montana Bicentennial Administration, the Montana Arts Council, and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, “The Sun Gave Man the Power” was completed in 1975. Promotional print materials described the 27-minute, 16mm film as “an oral history given by elder members of the Pikuni-Blackfeet Indian tribe,” one in which the “family structure of the Blackfeet, their use of materials and tools, gathering of food and medicines and ecological orientation” allows the viewer to witness the “intertwining of their spiritual beliefs into their daily lives.”[3] Expanding on ideas put forward in their original project, the Ericksens presented themes of ecology and tradition through a wider range photographs and artwork pertaining to several tribes across North America. In addition to the tribal histories and scholarly commentaries that provided audio for the slideshow, the filmmakers also introduced an overarching narration and commentary into the final edit of the motion picture.

Several notable figures lent their talents to the making of “The Sun Gave Man the Power.” The film was narrated by famed Chicago author and broadcaster Studs Terkel, with commentary by Salish Kootenai activist/anthropologist/educator D’Arcy McNickle and scientist Dr. James Breeling. Still photographs were the work of Walter McClintock and Edward Curtis, with paintings provided by such Native American artists as John Bear Medicine and Victor Pepion (Blackfoot), Doc Tate Nevaquaya (Comanche), White Buffalo (Kiowa), Dick West (Southern Cheyenne). Old West artists Charles M. Russell and O.C. Seltzer provided additional paintings, and the traditional music for the film was created by John Bear Medicine and Doc Tate Nevaquaya.[4]

Still image from The Sun Gave Man the Power (collection PAc 2018-16)
After the film was completed, the Sun Foundation presented “The Sun Gave Man the Power” to various scholars to evalute the appropriateness of the subject matter. D’Arcy McNickle was an obvious choice from the Native American community in Montana, as was Earl Barlow of the Blackfoot tribe. Barlow was serving as the Superintendent of Public Schools on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning and would go on to be the director of the Office of Indian Education for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C. from 1979 to 1981. Father Peter Powell, founder and first director of St. Augustine’s Center for American Indians in Chicago would also serve on the evaluation committee. Superintendent of Glacier National Park, Mr. Phillip Iverson (1974-1980), and Mr. Ed Rothfuss, the Chief Naturalist at Glacier rounded out the list of scholars to review the film before its 1975 release.[5]

Film order form and proposal cover page (collection RS 142)

Over the course of its 45-year lifespan, the Sun Foundation has continued to “research, design, produce, and disseminate educational materials that advance and develop integrative and interdisciplinary studies between artists and scientists and the understanding thereof, to enable humankind to live in harmony with nature, by securing a quality environment for all life, thereby enriching the human condition.”[4] To learn more about the past and current endeavors of the Sun Foundation, please visit their website at The Montana Historical Society has recently digitized its excellent 16mm print of ”The Sun Gave Man the Power,” and the film can be found on our Moving Image Archives YouTube playlist:

[1] The Sun Foundation website:
[2] Montana Bicentennial Administration papers. Montana Historical Society Archives, collection RS 142.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] The Sun Foundation website.

June 14, 2018

In Search of the Oldest Montana Photograph, Part 1

by Jeff Malcomson, MHS Photo Archives Manager

What is the oldest photograph taken in Montana? This question haunts the staff of the MHS Photograph Archives. Hundreds of thousands of variously interesting, even compelling, historical images, but which are the oldest, and which one can claim that incredible status of being the oldest of them all?  For a repository of historical materials, the oldest items are often some of the most significant, and in many ways, they help us define the most prized objects in our collections. The problem with labeling items as “the oldest” for archivists and historians is almost always in the details.

An ambrotype (C969-001) showing a mining camp scene in French Gulch, dated Aug. 23, 1862.]
Enter the French Gulch ambrotype.  It is a prized cased image showing a small mining camp high in the mountains. Written on the back of the case in handwriting is “French Gulch, Aug. 23, 1862.”  The photograph was donated to the Montana Historical Society Library in early June of 1969 by the grandson of a man who was reportedly a gold prospector in the Rockies during the 1860s.  In the September 1969 issue of the Society’s newsletter, Montana Post, MHS staff reported the interesting news: “this could be it…MONTANA’S OLDEST PICTURE.”  While mistakenly referring to the cased image as a tintype (an easy mistake because the donor referred to it as a tintype) and quoting the wrong year (1863 instead of 1862), the staff gave it tentative status as what they believed to be “the earliest picture ever taken in Montana.”

Nov/Dec. 1969 issue of Montana Post on the status of the French Gulch ambrotype as the 'oldest picture'.
This theory was quickly shot down in the following issue of Montana Post, when the staff reported the comments of veteran Smithsonian ethnologist, John C. Ewers, denouncing the image’s hopeful status as the “earliest.”  Ewers stated, “We know that John Mix Stanley was taking daguerreotypes of Blackfoot Indians as early as 1853.”  And he continued, “we also know that a member of Reynolds’ expedition to the Yellowstone in 1858 took pictures—of Crow Indians if not other subjects.”  He reported that he had not located any surviving daguerreotypes from Stanley’s work, but thought he had found prints from the Crow portraits taken by the Reynolds’ party’s photographer and, yet, did not mention where those were found.

With Ewers’ muddying of the already murky waters, the French Gulch cased image - discovered to be an ambrotype in the intervening years - held a place near the front of the line as likely one of the oldest extant photographs of Montana, certainly from its mining gold rush days of the 1860s.  For many years, we continued to believe it was taken at one of two different early mining camps in Montana known as French Gulch, most likely the one 15 or so miles south of Anaconda.  The date of Aug. 1862 would have been very early indeed since our first major gold discovery was in summer 1862 at Bannack.  We considered this photo perhaps the first photographic evidence of a small, primitive mining camp in Montana.

This past January, I endeavored to finally lay to rest the question about the location of this compelling and significant image, let alone its very early date.  Because the mountains on the horizon in the background of the image are fairly distinct and appear to be above tree line, I thought that they would be crucial to pinpointing the location, or at the very least, to ruling out other potential locations.  After investigating the two French Gulch locations in Montana, I determined that neither of them matched.

Discouraged, I noted that the writing on the back said only “French Gulch” with no state or territory designation.  Why not see if there was a French Gulch in Idaho where mining occurred slightly before it did here in Montana?  I found one possible location in northern Idaho but again the topography of mountains above the tree line did not fit.  Because I attended graduate school at Colorado State University and had studied some Colorado mining history, I next thought of Colorado. Back to Google maps and the only result for Colorado was French Gulch Road in Breckenridge, Colorado.  I switched to the 3D mode and looked along what appeared to be French Gulch. Looking back toward Breckenridge and the ski slopes, the mountain ridgeline came into view.  To my astonishment the peaks right above the ski slopes (now known to be Peaks 8, 9, and 10) fit very precisely the ridgeline in the French Gulch ambrotype.  The date certainly better fits French Gulch, Colorado as well, since the peak of early mining activity was post-1859 and into the early 1860s.

Comparison of French Gulch ambrotype image with Google Maps 3D image.
The French Gulch ambrotype, for nearly 50 years thought to be one of the earliest photographs taken in Montana, turns out to be an early Colorado image.  The search for Montana’s oldest extant photograph continues…

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