September 23, 2013

Storage Wars... at MHS!

by Molly Kruckenberg, Director, Montana Historical Society Research Center

A big part of our work here at the Montana Historical Society is to collect and preserve the books, documents, artwork and artifacts that tell the story of our State’s history. Proper storage of these items includes ensuring they are kept in an environmentally controlled area, where temperature, humidity and light levels are monitored. But proper storage also includes adequate space to accommodate collections without overcrowding.

BEFORE: Overcrowding in the archives makes it difficult
to care properly for collections.
(Photo by Jeff Malcomson)
The Research Center has been fortunate to receive funding from the Montana State Legislature to improve storage conditions for our archival collections. Over the next several months, a transformation will occur in our archives—from over-crowded, inadequate shelving to a state-of-the-art, high-density storage system. Not only will we increase the number of collections we can house in our current facility, but we will provide improved storage for those collections.

In order to complete this work, it is necessary to close access to our archival collections from October 15, 2013, through April 15, 2014. Other Research Center collections, such as books, newspapers, photographs, and maps, will remain open and accessible to the public during this time.

AFTER: The installation of high-density shelving, shown here,
will expand storage space and better protect collections.
Join us next summer for the grand re-opening of your Montana Historical Society Archives! And stay tuned here for periodic updates on our project.

September 16, 2013

Ask a Curator

Do you have a burning curiosity about history? Nagging questions you’ve always wanted to find an answer for? This is your chance. On Wednesday, September 18, curators around the globe will log on to Twitter for #AskACurator Day. Here at the Montana Historical Society, we’re lucky enough to have two curators participating.

Sarah Nucci is our curator of history. She’s also a costume historian and tailor. Her passion is recreating bygone styles, down to historically accurate undergarments. So how exactly did ladies and gentlemen (and children and workers and homesteaders) dress in the early days of Montana? Sarah will be standing by to answer your questions about historic fashion from 9:00 to 10:00 A.M. on #AskACurator Day.

Kendra Derrer is currently working on an exhibit in honor of Montana’s 150th territorial anniversary. In her time at the Montana Historical Society, she’s cataloged thousands of artifacts, and she’s an expert on their care. How do we keep hundred-year-old tools from rusting and papers from crumbling? Kendra will be waiting to answer your questions about collection care from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. on #AskACuratorDay.

To ask Sarah or Kendra a question, simply log in to Twitter and tweet to @MThist using #AskACurator.

September 5, 2013

Great Expectations

by Kendra Newhall, Assistant Registrar

In many ways, maternity clothes have not changed much over the years. Styled the same as everyone else’s clothing, they added fullness in the front for an expanding tummy, a slightly raised waistband, and additional room for growth in the bust.

AimeĆ© Fisher shows off the maternity dress of her
great-great-grandmother, Regina Davis.  

Often these garments are altered and remade into clothing for children, their trims are taken for other dresses, or they are passed on to other community members who are pregnant. This maternity dress was worn by Regina Parker Davis in 1905, when she was pregnant with her daughter Esther. Regina was married to Mr. Allison Davis, a sheep rancher in Wibaux, Montana. A photo of Al, along with an account of his life with Regina, can be found in the digitized book Trails Along Beaver Creek.

The dress can be seen in the exhibit Domestic Economy: Managing the Home, 1890-1920 through the end of December 2013.

Rear view of the dress.
Photos by Joe Fisher.