December 31, 2014

James Bradley’s Historical Baggage

by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian, Montana Historical Society Research Center 

Every spring, the MHS Research Center offers two James H. Bradley Fellowships to graduate students, faculty, and/or independent scholars pursuing research on Montana history.

Past recipients and topics reflect the dynamics of Western U.S. historical interests, from Native women’s work wages/opportunities to Lee Metcalf’s role in environmental politics. The naming of the fellowship was no accident. Rather, its title represents just a hint of the invaluable legacy left to Montana by Lt. James Bradley, an historian who collected, created, and carried history.  
James H. Bradley, 1st Lt. 7th U.S. Infantry [no date]
MHS Photo Archives # 941-317
Born in Ohio in 1844, James H. Bradley served in the Ohio Volunteer Regiment during the Civil War. Following the war, he reenlisted and was quickly promoted to First Lieutenant. From 1866 through the next eleven years he was stationed primarily in Wyoming, Utah and Montana Territories.  His deployments consistently put him in harm’s way. During a brief 1871 assignment in Georgia and Alabama to suppress the escalation of Ku Klux Klan activities, he met and married Mary Isabella Beach. He returned to Montana with his new bride in January 1872. The couple was stationed at Fort Benton and Fort Shaw until 1877.[1]

The developing Montana Territory and its major players consumed much of Bradley’s spare time. He studied historical resources, such as volumes of the 1872 “History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke." Bradley sought out and recorded stories told to him by early Montana history makers including Alexander Culbertson, one of the founding fathers of Fort Benton. He created historical sketches of Crow, Gros Ventre, Blackfoot and Sioux [2].

While under the command of General Gibbon, Bradley detailed daily events of the 1876 campaign against the Northern Cheyenne and Lakota. As Commander of the Scouts, including 23 Crow and two white, Bradley had the unenviable duty of repeating the Scouts’ report to Gibbon of a “horrid” battle involving Custer. Bradley’s final journal entry, dated Monday, June 26, conveys the reactions prompted by the report. Less than 24 hours later, Bradley and his scouts discovered the remains of Custer and his men.[3]

Bradley himself died on August 9, 1877, during the Battle of the Big Hole. Bradley’s passion for Montana history did not die with him, though. Upon the news of his death, Mrs. Bradley sold several of her husband’s books to trader J.H. McKnight. She then packed the bulk of Lt. Bradley’s writings and took them with her as she arranged passage back to Atlanta, Georgia aboard the steamboat Benton.[4] Just two years later, in 1878, she sold the collection to the Montana Historical Society. [5] 

One hundred thirty-six years later, Bradley’s legacy, both literally and figuratively, lives on at the Montana Historical Society Research Center. The numerous journals which he carried, such as the handwritten journal of the 1876 “Sioux Campaign on the Yellowstone,” along with The James H. Bradley Papers, 1872-1877 (Manuscript Collection 49), are retained in the MHS archives. 

A few books from his personal library are housed in the MHS library's collection, including both volumes of "History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke," which Bradley signed and dated after picking them up in Fort Benton Feb. 21, 1874.[6] The volumes, small enough to fit in an inside pocket or saddle bag, still evoke the smell of camp fires.
This spring, the MHS Research Center will once again accept Bradley Fellowship applications. The Fellowship is just one of many legacies left by Lt. James Bradley’s passion for Montana’s history. 
Bradley's signature in his personal copy of "History of the Expedition
 under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke"
[1] Jon G. James, “Lt. James H. Bradley, The Literary Legacy of Montana’s Frontier Soldier-Historian,” Montana, the Magazine of Western History, Winter 2009, v. 59, no. 4: 46-57.

[2] James H. Bradley Papers, 1872-1877, MC 49, Box 2, Folder 10.

[3] Lt. James H. Bradley, The March of the Montana Column, A Prelude to the Custer Disaster, ed. Edgar I. Stewart (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), 153-162.

[4] "Mrs. Bradley,” The Benton Record, August 17, 1877, p. 3.

[5] Jon G. James, 56.

[6] Meriwether Lewis, History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clarke : to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains, and down the River Columbia to the Pacific ocean: performed during the years 1804, 1805, 1806, by order of the government of the United States, ed. Archibald M’Vickar, (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1872). MHS Library Locker 917.8 L58HM 1871, Vol. 1 & 2.


December 18, 2014

The Christmas Goose – or was it Buffalo Tongue?

Molly Kruckenberg, Research Center Manager

Food is an important part of celebrations.  From eggs at Easter to cold lemonade on Independence Day to turkey and cranberries on Thanksgiving, food is integral to how we celebrate together.  Christmas food, while not as prescribed as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, certainly has its customs.  Whether you have ham or turkey or roast beef on Christmas day, there are probably mashed potatoes that accompany it, along with lots of pies and cookies.

Like most traditions, though, the food that we eat on the holidays has changed over time.  In 1882 Nannie Alderson planned a Christmas feast in her new home on a ranch near Lame Deer.  The highlight of her meal was fresh oysters, which she had arranged for a neighbor, who was traveling to Miles City, to bring back.  She set a lovely Christmas dinner table, decorated with pine cones, wild rose berries, and her grandmother's silver candlesticks. The dish of scalloped oysters were front and center.*

The cover of the Christmas menu at the Grand Central Hotel, Helena, MT, 1889
(courtesy of the Montana Historical Society Research Center;
see entire menu here on the Montana Memory Project

In 1889, the Grand Central Hotel in Helena served Christmas dinner with a multitude of foods.  There were a few of the traditional foods we see today on their menu, such as mashed potatoes and stuffed goose.  But some of the foods served would not be seen on a holiday menu today, including green turtle soup, smoked buffalo tongue, and braised calve's brains with truffles.  There wasn’t a single pumpkin pie for dessert, but they did serve a Christmas plum pudding.

Whether you are eating turkey and mashed potatoes or stuffed buffalo tongue and oysters, the MHS wishes you Happy Holidays and pleasant eating!

(* Unfortunately for Nannie and her guests, the oysters had been tainted before they were frozen.  Nannie recollected that, "In spite of the bad oysters, we did have a merry time before the disastrous effects began to appear.")

December 11, 2014

Remembering Montana’s Chet Huntley

by Susan R. Near, Development & Marketing Officer, Montana Historical Society
Norma Ashby (nee Beatty) presenting Chet with a Montana
Territorial Centennial medallion in his NBC Office, New York, 1964.
  [MHS Photo Archives # 942-937]
Native Montanan Chester Robert “Chet” Huntley (December 10, 1911-March 20, 1974) was a national television newscaster best known for co-anchoring NBC’s evening news program with David Brinkley. “The Huntley-Brinkley Report,” which ran for 14 years beginning in 1956, had an estimated nightly audience of 20 million people at its peak. Huntley received numerous prestigious awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont award, two Peabody Awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, and he was named the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” in 1970. In Huntley’s memoir, The Generous Years: Remembrances of a Frontier Boyhood, published in 1968, he credited family and his Montana roots as his influences. 

Huntley as a young thespian, c. 1935
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]

Chet was born in Cardwell, Montana to Percy and Blanche Tatham Huntley–the only son and oldest of four children. His father was a telegraph operator for the Northern Pacific Railway. The family moved often throughout his childhood, living in Cardwell, Saco, Willow Creek, Logan, Big Timber, Norris, Whitehall and Three Forks. Chet graduated from Whitehall High School and attended Montana State College in Bozeman. He also attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle before graduating with a degree in Speech and Drama from the University of Washington in 1934.

Huntley landed his first broadcasting job at Seattle’s KBCB radio where he was writer, announcer, and sales representative making $10 a month. News broadcaster and commentator positions for radio stations in Spokane, Portland and Los Angeles followed. He worked for CBS Radio from 1939-1951, then ABC Radio from 1951-1955 and joined the NBC Radio Network in 1955. Critics considered Chet Huntley to have one of the greatest broadcast voices ever heard.

Huntley and Brinkley at the NBC "Convention Central", 1960
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]
NBC tapped Huntley to anchor a half-hour news program in early 1956 originally called “Outlook,” later known as “Chet Huntley Reporting”. The show aired for 7 years and covered issues like segregation, civil rights and immigration. Later that year, NBC looked to replace their news anchor for coverage of the national political conventions; both Huntley and journalist David Brinkley were in the running; however, there was disagreement on who should take that role. Eventually the decision was made that both would share the assignment. Their on-air chemistry—Huntley’s straightforward presentation countered by Brinkley’s acerbic wit—was immediately apparent and popular with viewers. Their partnered success led them to co-anchor the NBC nightly news program debuting in October 1956.  It was the very first dual anchor national evening newscast, with Chet Huntley from New York and David Brinkley from Washington, DC. “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” was a ratings success and garnered several team awards, including eight Emmys and two George Peabody Awards. Chet Huntley’s last broadcast on “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” was July 31, 1970. 

Huntley was interviewed in 1961 by Newsweek magazine and was quoted describing himself as a “solemn, frozen, horse face that some people seem to like. He thinks awfully lucky to be where he is and sometimes feels it’s all transitory, fleeting. He’s aware of all the incredible things he does not know. He can’t stand ignoramuses or stuffed shirts.” 

“Maybe where there’s clarity of air, there's clarity of thought." - Chet Huntley
Huntley at Big Sky, Montana, 1973
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]

Chet Huntley returned to Montana where, in retirement, he conceived and spearheaded the development of Big Sky Resort – an 11,000
acre year-round ski resort and recreation complex on the West Fork of the Gallatin River. He worked with large corporations to fund the Big Sky development, which included an Arnold Palmer designed golf course, tennis courts, indoor swimming pools, a dude ranch, condominiums and the famous Big Sky ski runs. Chet Huntley died of lung cancer in March 1974 at his home in Big Sky, just days before the official opening of the resort. 

Enjoy listening to "Chet Huntley's Montana," a short tribute to the many quaint and unusual places in the Big Sky State. This fine example of Huntley's unique voice was recorded in 1959 for the 10th anniversary of the Montana Broadcasters Association. In 1993, Chet Huntley was inducted into the Montana Broadcaster Association’s Hall of Fame.
Chet Huntley, 1960
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]

November 6, 2014

Miss Ishikawa: A Japanese Friendship Doll

By Amanda Streeter Trum, Curator of Collections, Montana Historical Society Museum

Miss Ishikawa [Photo by Alan Pate, MHS Museum Accession X1928.01]
Nose: medium.             Mouth: small.               Eyes: black
This is how the Montana Historical Society’s "Miss Ishikawa" is described on her 1927 passport.  Eighty-seven years ago this month, Miss Ishikawa arrived in San Francisco aboard the Japanese ship, Tenyo Maru.  She is one of fifty-eight "Friendship Dolls" presented to the people of America by the people of Japan in November 1927, in response to a similar gift from the United States earlier that year. 
Blue-Eyed Doll sent to Japanese children
The Friendship Doll exchange began in March 1927 with the shipment of over 12,000 American dolls to Japan as a gesture of goodwill during a time of cultural and political tension between the two countries.  Known to the Japanese as “Blue-Eyed Dolls,” these small ambassadors were received with great fanfare and appreciation.  In return, the Japanese government commissioned their own specially made dolls as gifts to the children of the United States.  

The doll exchange occurred just three years after the United States passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which prohibited immigration from Japan based on an established quota system.  At this time, Japanese immigrants living on the West Coast experienced systematic and institutionalized discrimination and physical intimidation.
As anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S. and anti-American sentiment in Japan increased, Reverend Sydney Gulick, a former American missionary in Japan, developed the idea of smoothing relations between the two countries by fostering cultural understanding and forging friendships among the countries’ children.
Gulick, founder of the Committee on World Friendship Among Children, obtained overwhelming support in the United States to gather and ship American dolls to Japan as a first step in improving relations.  Children from across the country dressed the dolls and wrote letters of greeting to accompany them. 
Rev. Sydney Gulick

In response, the Japanese government commissioned the fifty-eight Friendship Dolls—each named for a Japanese prefecture, city, or colony—to act as diplomatic ambassadors.  Baron Matsudaira, Japanese ambassador, stated in 1927, "These dolls are silent; they do not talk, but sometimes silence is more eloquent than speech.  When one’s heart is filled with emotion, one often loses speech.  So these dolls silently tell you of the friendly feeling which the children of Japan have for the children of America."

Miss Ishikawa and her peers were treated as VIPs, both in Japan and upon arrival in the U.S.  They held first-class seats on the ship and on trains as they traveled the United States, met dignitaries, and attended special receptions in their honor.
However, the goodwill generated by the dolls proved short-lived.  The children who participated in the doll exchange in 1927 became some of the same adults to fight against each other during World War II.  The imperial Japanese government labeled the American dolls spies and mandated that they be destroyed.  Today, relatively few Blue-Eyed Dolls remain, but forty-six of the original fifty-eight Friendship Dolls have been located.
In recent decades, there has been a renewed interest in both sets of dolls as historical artifacts and artistic expressions of cultural awareness.  Organizations in both the U.S. and Japan have planned reunions and homecoming exhibitions, as well as new doll exchanges.  The Blue-Eyed and Friendship Dolls continue to represent the promise of friendship and peace, a commendable sentiment that will always be relevant.
Miss Ishikawa joined the Montana Historical Society’s permanent collection in 1928. She was first displayed in the basement of the Capitol, where the museum once resided.  She and her extensive collection of beautiful accessories are now on display at the Montana Historical Society as part of our Montana’s Territorial Legacy exhibit, open through April 2015.

October 28, 2014

Being Sidney Edgerton

by Jeff Malcomson, Montana Historical Society Gov't Records Archivist

As children, and some adults, prepare their costumes for this coming Halloween, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my recent experiences with historical performance. Sometimes called first-person historical interpretation, historical performance has been around for a long time, though perhaps not as well developed a tool for public history in the Rocky Mountain region as in other parts of the country. Expert historical performer Joyce M. Thierer defines historical performance as "direct-address first-person narrative in correct clothing followed by taking questions in character and as the scholar."

Jeff Malcomson as Montana's first territorial governor,
Sidney Edgerton (ca. 1864) posing with the portrait of
Ellen Farrar Hauser, the wife of Samuel T. Hauser,
another Montana pioneer. The portrait is part of the current

MHS exhibit "Montana's Territorial Legacy."
"Gov. Edgerton" spoke at the exhibit opening.

My own recent experience started back in May portraying Montana's first territorial governor, Sidney Edgerton, during Helena's annual History Fair on the walking mall and for a couple special events celebrating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Montana Territory. My experience culminated at the Montana History Conference in Helena this fall where I portrayed Edgerton's nephew, and fellow Montana pioneer, Wilbur Fisk Sanders. In this latter historical performance, I was joined by my MHS colleagues, Rich Aarstad (as Samuel Word) and Jodie Foley (as Martha Edgerton Rolfe). We dreamed up a historical debate between these two real-life political adversaries of the territorial period (Sanders vs. Word). Over the summer we constructed a script based on many actual primary sources from Sanders, Word and Rolfe, and our own secondary-source research into the politics of the times. The dramatic climax of the performance—when Word challenges Sanders to a duel in Virginia City—was based on a real event during the 1878 political campaign.

Rich Aarstad plays democratic party "hatchet-man" Samuel Word
during a historic debate at the 2014 Montana History
Conference in Helena. (Photo courtesy of Ken Robison.)

Through this past six months of experimenting with historical performance I have learned that it can be great fun playing historical figures, though sometimes the clothing is a bit uncomfortable. More than anything though, I've found that as a historian and someone who loves to research, this is a fantastic way to engage the public, and history enthusiasts more particularly, to share the significance of the past. Through historical performances we can enliven the past, conveying information and context about how people lived, how they thought, and how they made choices that even now impact our lives. So if you dress up this year, I encourage you to choose your favorite historical figure and spend a little time in someone else's shoes, sharing the stories of the past as you go.

October 23, 2014

Chuck Wagon Provisions

by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

We would be hard pressed to find a topic more iconic of Montana’s cattle history than the Chuck Wagon. Used during cattle drives as well as roundups, the camp cook and his provisioned chuck wagon were responsible for sustaining crews of hardworking cowboys for days, if not weeks. Camp cooks were only able to accomplish this task if they were adept at planning and packing the right provisions.  

Cowboys of the 1860s and 1870s often carried their own food supplies, including biscuits or cornbread, salt, coffee, and salted meat. Due to the weight of skillets, they packed large tin cups to warm water, and used sticks to cook meat and bread over camp fires. Texas rancher and freighter, Charles Goodnight, reportedly designed the first “Chuck” wagon around 1866. Although Goodnight’s original design consisted of a basic compartmentalized wooden cupboard, it served as the inspiration for later designs and improvements.

Mex John Making Pies, 1880-1900?, L.A. Huffman photo (Montana Historical Society Photo Archives 981-254)

Larger drives often included "bed wagons" to carry additional gear, such as tents and portable cook stoves, which became necessities with the industry’s exposure to cooler northern climates.
By the 1880s, the crude “chuck” boxes had evolved into sophisticated centers for food storage and preparation. They provided accessible storage for frequently-used spices, utensils, crocks, and pots. The remainder of the wagon was organized into storage for bulk foods, water, kindling, skillets, pots, ropes, tool box, portable wood cook stoves, and so much more. When dropped open, the hinged end created a work table.
By 1883, Northern plains culture, evolving social conventions, and the development of better food preservation methods had redefined camp cooking. The 1892 journal left by XIT trail boss Ealey Moore recorded the supplies used for a crew of 10 men during the thirteen weeks it took to drive 2500 cattle from Channing, Texas to the confluence of the Yellowstone River and Cedar Creek north of Miles City. The inventory included both traditional as well as recent additions to the cowboy diet. The cook, Sam Williamson, ground and brewed almost 2 pounds of coffee beans a day, going through 3 coffee mills. Each day he cooked 10 pounds of bacon. During the 13 week drive, the crew consumed
          • 40 pounds of rice
          • 160 pounds of beans
          • 9 gallons of sorghum
          • almost 300 pounds of fruit, including dried currants and prunes as well as dried, fresh, and canned apples and peaches
          • 1750 pounds of white flour
          • 405 pounds of white sugar
Williamson flavored his cooking with vanilla and lemon extracts, cinnamon and mustard. And, he brought both baking powder and soda. The only vegetables purchased during the trip were kegs of pickles and 720 pounds of potatoes. The inventory portrays a diet incredibly more varied than that from just twenty years earlier.

Cook and Pie Biter At Work, 1886?, L.A. Huffman photo (Montana Historical Society Photo Archives 98-253)

Moore’s inventory confirms many of the reminiscences and recipes associated with cattle drives and roundups. Teddy Blue Abbott raved about the amount of “white bread” eaten by Montana cowboys. Early photographer L.A. Huffman listed “hot biscuits” and “pudding with raisins” as mainstays. Robert Rice, Powder River Country cowboy, remembered being well fed. The offerings included, “several kinds of dried fruit stewed, bacon, beans, fried potatoes (or spuds), canned vegetables, biscuits or bread, usually made of sour dough, beefsteak, . . . all washed down with strong black coffee . . .” Traditional recipes also reflect inventory ingredients. They included suet pudding with raisins (also called S.O.B. in a Sack), vinegar dumplings or pie, biscuits, bacon and beans, potatoes and pan gravy, and fruit pies.  

Imagine carrying enough varied and nutritious foods and cooking supplies in the back of a wagon to feed a hungry cowboy crew for days! 


Abbott, E.C. ("Teddy Blue") and Helena Huntington Smith. We Pointed Them North; Recollections of a Cowpuncher. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1939.

Beach, Maude L., comp. and Robert L. Thaden, Jr.,ed. Faded Hoof Prints--Bygone Dreams: Stories from Montana’s Greatest Livestock Frontier, Powder River Country, from the Montana Writer’s Project, of the Work Projects Administration, from the 1860s to the 1920s. Broadus, MT: Powder River Historical Society, 1989.

Huffman, L.A. “Last Busting at Bow-Gun,” Montana, the Magazine of Western History 1 (Autumn 1956): 15.

Moore, Ealy ed. by J. Evetts Haley. A Log of the Montana Trail / as kept by Ealy Moore. Amarillo: Russell Stationary Co., 1932.

Price, B. Byron. National Cowboy Hall of Fame Chuck Wagon Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the Ranch and Range. New York: Hearst Books, 1995.




October 1, 2014

Advice for Fall: Tie One On

by Christine Kirkham, Coordinator, Montana Digital Newspaper Project

Ad for the Copper City Commercial Company in
Ad for the Copper City
Commercial Company in
the Anaconda Standard,
September 1897.
The world’s annual couture expo, Fashion Week, is currently underway in Paris. Women’s clothing styles shift rapidly, so an outfit that was au courant a few years ago may now look dated. But for men, the classic suit-and-tie has endured for decades.

I decided to see if I could pinpoint, in Montana's historical newspapers, the arrival of that familiar silhouette sported by executives, bankers, and other white-collar workers. When did Montana’s city-dwelling men begin looking, well, new-fashioned?

Ad for Lymon's in Butte,
Anaconda Standard, June 1899.
A quick survey of menswear ads shows male dress remaining decidedly Victorian well into the 1890s. Consider the smoker at right. Besides the telltale bowler and 'stache, there’s a heaviness to the coat, which hangs to the knees in back. For the 1899 gentleman at left, the coat is still boxy and the high collar stiff.

But perhaps the one item dating these men to pre-1900 is their neckwear. Aristocrats and military officers had sported ascots, scarves and cravats for centuries. But after the Industrial Revolution, everyday Joes needed a similar dignified appearance — without the nuisance of fastening an elaborate knot. The man of the modern era needed neckwear he could put on quickly, sans manservant.*

Caldwell (Idaho) Tribune, October 1910.

Consider the 1910 park strollers at right, looking casual, comfortable, and streamlined. (Those hairless upper lips add to their modern look.)

Finally, the neckwear worn by the dapper fellows below, from 1922, bears a striking resemblance to the Langsdorf tie, which is still in use. They are wearing what would become the white-collar uniform for the next hundred years.

Thousands of fascinating ads like these can be found in Montana's digitized newspapers at Chronicling America, where historical Idaho newspapers will begin appearing soon.

Lewis-Wedum Department Store ad, Glasgow Courier, September 1922

* SOURCE: The Origins of the Neck Tie 

September 15, 2014

Ask A Curator Day, September 17, 2014

Do you have questions you’ve always wanted to ask a curator? This is your chance. On Wednesday, September 17, curators around the globe will log on to Twitter during #AskACurator Day. Here at the Montana Historical Society (MHS), we’re lucky enough to have two curators participating.

Kendra Newhall, MHS Museum Registrar
Kendra Newhall is our museum’s registrar. 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 answer your questions about collection care from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. (Mountain Daylight Time) on #AskACuratorDay.
Maggie Ordon, MHS Museum Curator of History

Maggie Ordon, Montana Historical Society's Curator of History, will be available from 11:00 A.M. until noon (Mountain Daylight Time) on #AskACurator Day. She’ll answer your questions about historic fashion. How exactly did ladies and gentlemen (and children and workers and homesteaders) dress in the early days of Montana? Maggie knows the details, right down to the historically accurate fabrics.

To ask Kendra or Maggie a question, simply log in to Twitter on September 17 and tweet to @MThist using #AskACurator.

September 3, 2014

Lee Metcalf's Legacy of Conservation

By Matthew M. Peek, Photograph Archivist

The narrative that is often told of the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act describes how conservation groups and key politicians nation-wide united to support the conservation of America’s natural resources and wild areas. While true, the story of the Wilderness Act’s origin and development has up to now largely left unexplored the influence of one of its greatest proponents: Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana.

On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, a look at the role Metcalf played in shaping our national wilderness policy is vital to understanding the full extent of his dedication. Serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1953-1960) and the U.S. Senate (1961-January 1978), Lee Metcalf’s priorities were not just about preserving forests and wilderness, but managing and protecting all resources which are part of nature’s lifecycle, including wildlife and their habitats, streams and rivers, bird migration routes, clean water resources, and so much more.
Dr. Arnold W. Bolle, Dean of the Montana State University School of Forestry [present-day University of Montana], testified in support of a bill to establish a land and water conservation fund to assist state and federal governments in meeting outdoor recreation needs. Pictured are (left to right) Agriculture Secretary Orville L. Freeman; Senator Lee Metcalf; Bolle; and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, March 6, 1963. [Lot 31 B16/6.10]
As early as the 1950s, Metcalf was determining the course of conservation efforts. The proposed Echo Park Dam would have flooded portions of Dinosaur National Monument.  Metcalf became one of the most vocal opponents of its construction and one of the major reasons the Echo Park Dam was dropped from the Upper Colorado River Project.  The Echo Park Dam controversy sparked the modern conservation movement, and made the need for federal wilderness legislation glaringly apparent.

Just after President Eisenhower was sworn into office in 1953, Montana U.S. Rep. Wesley D’Ewart introduced the Uniform Federal Grazing Land Act, which would have allowed cattle ranchers to graze their herds on national forest lands and would potentially destroy wildlife habitats. Rep. Metcalf’s testimony and advocacy to protect wild areas helped kill that grazing act.

He also helped stop another grazing bill (S. 2548) that would impact national forests.  During the U.S. Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee hearings on January 21-22, 1954, Metcalf testified against that bill stating:    
In the light of industrial development and expansion we should continue to be alert to protect our water...and to follow the leadership of enlightened local community leaders who know the problems and are familiar with local conditions. A balanced constructive legislative program is needed.
That same year, Metcalf blocked the passage of the Ellsworth Timber Exchange Bill. This bill would have allowed the federal government to exchange national forest lands for private lands in order to reimburse private owners for federal projects developed on their land. Metcalf called this trading “trees for stumps,” and was the strongest opponent of the bill. For his efforts, Metcalf received the 1954 National Award for Distinguished Service to Conservation.

In addition to helping stop potentially destructive legislation, Lee Metcalf introduced many conservation and wilderness-related measures from 1953 to 1963, including: an outdoor recreation bill in 1956 (H.R. 1823); the first ever federal legislation for studying the effects of pesticides and insecticides on wildlife and fish, which passed in 1958 as the Pesticide Research Act; a bill, introduced in January 1956, to protect federal wildlife refuges from dissolution; and the “Save Our Streams” bill (S. 2767), on January 30, 1962, to cease the destruction of rivers and streams by sloppy highway construction.

When John F. Kennedy was running for President in 1960, he and Metcalf discussed Kennedy’s stance on conservation issues if he were to win the presidency. In the autumn of 1960, Metcalf and Kennedy shot a television program on conservation for Kennedy’s campaign. On October 21, 1960, shortly before the national elections, Metcalf wrote to Senator Kennedy:
Conservation has the power to impart to an administration a quality of character which makes it stand out in history. I sincerely believe you could set the tone for your Administration by this approach. Through the medium of conservation the needs and aspirations of our people can be galvanized—the challenge of tomorrow translated in a visible way.
Senator Lee Metcalf meets with other national conservation leaders, August 6-12, 1961, to discuss legislative strategy regarding the proposed national wilderness preservation system bill. (Pictured left to right, standing) Alden J. Erskin, Izaak Walton League president; Phil Schneider, International Association of Game, Fish & Conservation Commissioners president; Tom Kimball, National Wildlife Federation exce; Carl W. Buchheister, president of National Audubon Society; (left to right, seated) C.R. Gutermuth, chairman of the Natural Resources Council of America; Senator Metcalf; and Ira N. Gabrielson, president of the Wildlife Management Institute. [Lot 31 B16/2.06]
As a precursor to the Wilderness Act, Metcalf introduced the National Preservation System bill in the House of Representatives on June 13, 1956. Eight years later, on August 21, 1964, Senator Lee Metcalf, as presiding officer, signed the Wilderness Act on behalf of the U.S Senate. In a ceremony on the grounds of the White House Rose Garden, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964.

Lee Metcalf was one of America's most vocal and effective conservation congressmen. He had a hand in the classification, eventual creation of, or passage of every acre of wilderness in Montana by the time of his death in January 1978. He also is one of the major reasons Montana has the great outdoor recreation sites and facilities it does, which draw millions of tourists to the state and employ thousands of Montanans.

His is a truly great legacy, which is fitting to recall on the anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

August 22, 2014

Montana's Role in the War on Poverty: 50th Anniversary of the Passage of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act

By Matthew M. Peek, MHS Photograph Archivist

In his State of the Union address in January 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty.”  Speaking on March 18, 1964, just after a major bill to fight poverty was introduced to Congress, Montana’s U.S. Senator Lee Metcalf expressed his deeply held support:
Only a small fraction of our nation’s poor are wholly responsible for their condition.  Most often they are the victims of circumstances.  Just as some Americans inherit wealth, others are born into poverty. . . .  Somehow, we must find a way to break the cycle of poverty that so frequently carries from father to son.  The elimination of poverty is above all a moral obligation.
In July 1964, with a vote of 61 to 34, the U.S. Senate passed Senate bill 2642, its version of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.  The U.S. House passed the bill a couple weeks later and President Johnson signed the bill into law on August 20, 1964.  Johnson’s “War on Poverty” was launched with this act, signaling a national dedication to the eradication of poverty in the United States through the provision of “opportunity.”  The Economic Opportunity Act would become the hallmark of Johnson’s administration.

MHS Photo Archives, Lot 31 B8/14.04: Great Falls School District speech therapist Jean Irwin (right) works with Lily Meyer, a participant in Head Start, in Great Falls, Montana, [circa 1960s].

What few people realize is this ground-breaking legislation had its origins in the patient work of Montana’s Lee Metcalf, first as a representative to Congress in the 1950s, and later as a U.S. Senator in the 1960s.  Working closely with his friend and colleague Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-MN), then Representative Metcalf envisioned a program for youth patterned on the 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps, which he and Humphrey called the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC).  The idea behind the program was to help lower youth delinquency through federally-funded summer forest, park, and wilderness conservation and improvement programs.  The program allowed for “enrollment of up to 150,000 boys and young men, between the ages of 16 and 22.”

On December 29, 1956, Senator Humphrey unveiled the first version of the YCC, in a six-point youth opportunity program to address education, delinquency, and employment for youth and college students in America. On behalf of his colleague, Rep. Metcalf, Montana Senator James E. Murray introduced a bill (S. 812) he wrote for the establishment of the YCC in 1959, based on Humphrey’s proposal.  Despite setbacks, Humphrey and Metcalf would continue to work from 1956 to 1964 for passage of America’s most sweeping social welfare programs.

Metcalf testified with Senator Humphrey before a House of Representatives Education Subcommittee in April 1960 regarding the situation in which young boys and men found themselves after World War II.  Referring to the constant flow of youngsters into the labor market which he said “is at best inhospitable to teenagers,” Metcalf declared,
Many of these youngsters . . . are not going anywhere, except to boredom, confusion and trouble.  Evidence of this is provided by the growing problem of juvenile delinquency—and the increasing numbers of youngsters in our custodial and penal institutions.
The program failed in the U.S. House in 1960.  Nothing happened with the bill until February 14, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy gave a “Special Message to the Congress on the Nation’s Youth.”  He called for solutions to deal with the growing issues faced by America’s youth.

After years of work, Metcalf was ready to make the final push.  By 1963, he had become a U.S. Senator involved with Senate committees dealing with education, public works projects, and the Interior Department.  Senator Metcalf helped strategize and publically campaigned for the establishment of a series of national social welfare programs, trying to address rising social problems across the country.

After ascending to the presidency following Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson moved to capitalize on the years of preparation when he called for his “war on poverty.”  The President’s poverty program was multifaceted.  Along with an authorization for nearly a billion dollar appropriation to implement the proposed act, the bill called for the creation of the following: a Jobs Corps; work-training programs; a federal college work-study program; community action programs; rural areas programs; employment and investment incentives; a version of the Peace Corps for the United States, labeled the Volunteers in Service to America, or “VISTA”; and experimental or demonstration programs labeled “Family Unity Through Jobs.”  The bill would also create the Office of Economic Opportunity, whose Director would hold the power to define broad portions of the act and delineate funds for various programs.

MHS Photo Archives, Lot 31 B17/8.13: Glenn W. Ferguson (right), Director of VISTA (a branch of the Office of Economic Opportunity), appears as a guest with Senator Lee Metcalf (left) on set in the Senate Recording Studio, during the filming of a June 1966 film segment for one of Metcalf’s weekly “Washington Report”. Ferguson was discussing the role of Montanans in the VISTA program, June 21, 1966.
A key sponsor of this Economic Opportunity bill, Senator Metcalf was a member of the Senate’s Special Subcommittee on Poverty, whose responsibility was to conduct hearings on the Senate version of President Johnson’s poverty bill (S. 2642).  The Poverty Subcommittee began hearings on the bill on June 17, 1964, amidst accusations that it was Johnson’s attempt to court votes in the upcoming 1964 presidential election.  Laying politics aside, in a July 29, 1964 radio address, Lee Metcalf reflected on the purpose and need for the Economic Opportunity Act:
It is the constitutional responsibility of Congress to provide for the general welfare.  The Economic Opportunity Bill of which I am a sponsor and which passed the Senate this last week is designed to help fulfill that responsibility. . . .  I am proud to have had a part in its inception.
Following the bill’s passage, Metcalf worked to establish and get funding for Head Start programs in Great Falls, Montana, Job Corps Camps at Kickinghorse on the Flathead Indian Reservation, neighborhood centers, and Neighborhood Youth Corps programs in Butte, Montana, among many others.

Despite the War on Poverty’s ultimate failure to fulfill its grand scheme, the legislation did and does still bring great benefit to the United States and Montana.  Senator Lee Metcalf’s role in laying the groundwork for the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 was not in vain, and his steady and active drive to pass it marks him as one of America’s great social welfare legislators.

August 12, 2014

Lost in Translation?: Pierre Menard’s 1810 letter from the Three Forks—Part Two

By Rich Aarstad, Senior Archivist, Montana Historical Society Research Center

Pierre Menard's April 21,1810 letter from the headwaters of the Missouri is the earliest documentation the Montana Historical Society holds regarding the American attempt to open Montana for business. Taken on its own, the letter only hints at the compelling story hidden just below its surface.* 
Pierre Menard's letter written in French to Jean Pierre Chouteau
[From Montana Historical Society (MHS) Archives, MC 4, Box 1, Folder 1]

But of equal interest is how the letter ended up traveling, through history, from the headwaters of the Missouri to the Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives. The Menard letter is only one of a number of items in the archives collection that has made a circuitous journey beyond the state’s borders only to return as a donation. In this case, the letter belonged to the Chouteau family of St. Louis, Missouri—a name that has a long association with the history of the Missouri River fur trade and Montana.

The letter first surfaced when Hiram M. Chittenden, then a brigadier general in the Army Corps of Engineers, was researching his seminal work on the fur trade - The American Fur Trade of the Far West - published in 1902. In the third and final volume of that work, Chittenden quoted the letter in its original French; he also included a corrected French version and an English translation. He described the original as “written upon a sheet of fine light blue paper, full letter size, and still in excellent preservation.” Chittenden noted that the original letter was in the possession of the St. Louis Chouteau family. Chittenden presented the family with a signed copy of his French and English versions, which prompted a descendant of Jean Pierre Chouteau (1758-1849) and his son, Pierre Chouteau, Jr. (1789-1865) to give Chittenden “an old missive made famous in the “Fur Trade” (Pierre Chouteau letter to Hiram M. Chittenden, March 13, 1902, MHS Archives MC 4, Box 1, Folder 2.) —this very letter from Pierre Menard to Jean Pierre Chouteau.

Chittenden's English translation of the original French version.
[From Montana Historical Society Archives, MC 4, Box 1, Folder 1]
[Scanned by MHS staff]
Chittenden donated the original letter, along with his English translation, to the Montana Historical Society in 1902, shortly after receiving it from the Chouteau family. Both versions are now part of the Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company Records, Manuscript Collection 4, an amalgam of donations from Granville Stuart (1894), Paris Gibson (1905), and Hiram Chittenden that outlines the Chouteau family business interests in Montana 1810-1864.

*To learn more about the story, the previously published article by Rich Aarstad, "'This Unfortunate Affair': An 1810 Letter from the Three Forks,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Winter, 2008), pp. 62-67, 96, provides an in-depth description of the situation at Three Forks.

August 4, 2014

Lost in Translation?: Pierre Menard’s 1810 letter from the Three Forks—Part One

By Jared Peloquin, Montana Historical Society Research Center Intern
Attempting to translate an historic document can be a tricky task.  The difficulty is most prominent when the text of a document is far removed from one’s own language, customs, and culture.  I was recently asked to translate an 1810 letter written to Pierre Chouteau (1758-1849) in French and, even though I’ve studied French, this would require more than just an understanding of the French language.

I was forced to think not only about the letter, but about the person who wrote the letter.  The author, Pierre Menard, spoke French but was born in 18th century Montreal to a French soldier’s wife.  He left school at the age of fifteen to become a fur trader in the expansive American wilderness.  Given the age of the document, the changing nature of any language over the past two hundred years, and the fact that this man was born in the New World, I knew I would encounter words or spellings with which I was unfamiliar.  Growing up in Louisiana, I learned Parisian French while attending a French immersion school.  However, at home my elders spoke Cajun, which closely resembles 18th and 19th century peasant, or rural, French.  Despite my background, there were many questions I didn’t anticipate.
Close-up of the first page of a letter from Pierre Menard to Pierre Chouteau, written April 12, 1810, from the Three Forks area of what would become Montana
[From MHS Archives Collection  MC 4, Box 1, Folder 1]

Reading the first sentence, I noticed unique problems immediately.  The letter begins, “Je matandaie Pouvoire vous Ecrire Plus favorable…”  But, the words “pouvoire,” “ecrire,” and “plus” are not capitalized in contemporary French, and, there is no “e” at the end of “pouvoire.”  More troubling was the second word, “matandaie,” which I had never seen before.  I labored for some time until I started saying the word out loud.  Then I realized that the author must have meant “Je m’attendais” or “I was expecting…”  This makes sense in the context of the entire sentence: “I was expecting (or hoping) to be able to write you more favorably…”*

Multiple thoughts ran through my head, even after successfully translating that first sentence.  I wondered if “m’attendais” was spelled differently in 19th century North America, or if it was simply a result of the author’s lack of education.  Moreover, I was concerned about the capitalization of words throughout the letter.  All nouns in German - not just proper nouns as in English and French - are capitalized.  However, if one reads American documents written in English during the early Republic, one may notice often times that all nouns are capitalized, signifying a much closer connection to the English language’s Germanic roots.

Close-up of the signature of Pierre Menard from his 1810 letter from the Three Forks
[From MHS Archives Collection MC 4, Box 1, Folder 1]
We may never know all the factors which influenced and determined Pierre Menard’s particular French writing style.  Nevertheless, these are just some of the problems and questions one might face when translating any document.  Language is essential to culture, society, and history; and language can tell us much about all three.

* See the English translation of Menard's letter in Part Two.

July 21, 2014

Lessons from a Child…

By Bruce Whittenberg, Director, Montana Historical Society
On June 28, the Anzick Child was returned to the land. In a Native American ceremony involving several tribes from Montana, Washington and Oregon, the remains of a small child were reburied near the site of the original discovery.
Anzick Child reburial site
Photo by Bruce Whittenberg
This stunning discovery was made in 1968 near Wilsall, MT and is among the most significant archeological finds of human activity in North America.  Genetic research has determined that the 2-year old child and his family lived on this land over 12,700 years ago.  The Anzick Child is ancestor to 80% of all native tribes in the Americas. Objects included in the cache predate that by nearly 200 years.

The Montana Historical Society has the privilege of exhibiting artifacts
 of the Clovis culture, funerary objects of the Anzick Child.
Photo by Bruce Whittenberg
Presently we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory and the creation of the Montana Historical Society.  Humans lived on our Montana land over 12,700 years ago, and have been a part of this land since.  In that context, 150 years is but the blink of an historical eye.  We celebrate this wonderful place, our rich history and the institution we have created that will serve us many generations into the future.  As we do so, it behooves us to remember the people who first discovered this land, made it their home for thousands of years and, whether through blood or heritage, are ancestors to us all.    

To know where you are going, you have to know where you’ve been.  Let’s remember what that really means to each and every one of us and give thanks to the Anzick Child for an important lesson in Montana’s history.

July 3, 2014

The Compact Green Mile

The Montana Historical Society Archives staff and the collections they manage have been through many changes during the past year. The main storage area underwent complete renovation. Old shelving was disassembled and removed. The white walls were repainted, and the green floors, as well. Most notably, the area we affectionately refer to as the Green Mile was compacted. A brand new, high-density mobile shelving system replaced the old mismatched standard metal shelves. The Archives now has room to grow and the collections are more protected and better housed than ever before.

Before (top) and after (bottom) (photos by Tom Ferris)

Of course, to accomplish all of this, much preliminary work had to be completed by the Historical Society staff before moving anything. Almost a year ago, archivists began preparing more than 17,000 boxes and bound volumes by systematically surveying the materials in order to plan for and resolve any potential problems. Hundreds of items were rehoused and a master shelf list was created to help track collections through the project. This effort continued as boxes were stacked on pallets for shipment to a temporary storage warehouse, where this large bulk of Montana's historical record would reside for several months. About a month and thousands of box lifts later, Research Center archivists, joined by other staff at the Montana Historical Society, completed the safe movement of all archival collections.

Archivist Jeff Malcomson checks on the archives materials
in temporary storage (photo by Tom Ferris)
After several months of renovation work and installation of the shelving system, it all began again in March - in reverse order; collections began flowing back onto the new shelving. Anyone who has moved personal belongings from one house to another knows that moving in and unpacking is often a more difficult endeavor than the initial packing. The same holds true for archival collections.  Through several more weeks of exhausting labor, the race was won and the marathon finally finished. Montana's archival treasures are safely residing on their new (and very nice, I might add) shelves.

Through this once in a lifetime (we hope!) project, the archives staff learned many things about ourselves and our capabilities as archivists. Above all, we learned more about our amazing collections. The huge benefit of the project was that we handled just about every box and volume in the main storage area. This concentrated attention on the collections greatly aided us in two of an archivist's primary tasks: gaining physical and intellectual control over the collections. After a challenging year, the archival collections have a better storage and preservation infrastructure. And, we have a deeper understanding of the collections we hold.

If you would like to see the new Montana Historical Society Archives storage area, ask us for a tour on your next visit to MHS' Research Center library.