December 17, 2015

Fiction in Montana's Historic Newspapers

by Natasha Hollenbach, Montana Newspaper Project Assistant

Tis the season of traveling.  For me, the most difficult part of my packing process is deciding what I’m going to read on the plane (and in the airports).  Kindle has simplified the process in terms of space, but the problem of which book remains.  Do I want to read something funny or serious?  Fiction or non-fiction?  This genre or that genre?  For this reading season, I have brought together some suggestions from historical Montana newspapers available on Chronicling America (

Most scholarly discussion on fiction found in newspapers focus on the serial publication of novels.  If this appeals to you, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum was published in The Roundup Record from July 23, 1909 through Oct 15, 1909.  Or Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four ran in The Kalispell Bee during the month of February 1902.  It can be fascinating to see how the reading the story in a serial form creates a different experience, and sometimes the newspaper version of the story is significantly different from the novel version.  However, by limiting themselves to serialized novels, these researchers have overlooked most of the fiction published in newspapers from 1880-1922.

Roundup Record - July 16, 1909
Most Montana newspaper fiction during this period were one or two column short stories.  Even the researchers who acknowledge their existence tend to dismiss these stories as romances aimed at women readers.  While it is true, that the majority I ran across were romances, a substaintial number weren't. Even the romances show a variety of themes, settings, and endings.  Below are links to several stories highlighting this genre’s range.
Vera’s Trustee by Clarissa Mackie
The Girl from Goshen by Clarissa Mackie
Out of the Sky A Fourth of July Story by Clarissa Mackie
On the Border A Story for Memorial Day by F.A. Mitchel
A Belgian War Romance by Louise B. Cummings
Love’s Horrors by Louise B. Cummings
The Spotted Death A Story of Vengeance by F A Mitchel
Robin’s Christmas Gift by Clarissa Mackie

From The Spotted Death A Story of Vengeance
The Ronan Pioneer - April 12, 1912
Obviously this genre encompasses a great deal.  However, there were a number of surprising non-romance stories.  Here are two that I think of as Frankenstein-type stories.  Both have an emphasis on the legal implications, which is an angle that I’d never considered.
A Scientist’s Startling Proof by Oscar Cox
Omnium A Story of the Year 1985 by F.A. Mitchel (Before you write in angry comments, I know this is not from a Montana paper, but it's one of my favorites so I'm including it.)
There are ghost stories,
Perhaps not surprisingly there are numerous stories were the point seems to be imparting a moral lesson. 
Her Easter Bonnet by Clarissa Mackie
The Call It Occasions a Struggle Between Love and Duty by Clarissa Mackie
An Easter Lily It Inspires Good Feeling and Good Deeds by Clarissa Mackie

From An Easter Lily
The Whitefish Pilot - May 18, 1911
Next three stories don’t fit into any of the above categories but I think are worth mentioning.  The first is the social implications of the new technology: telephone party lines.  The second straddles the line of moral lesson and war.  The last story from 1913 surprised me because I really expected a different ending.  I interpret my surprise as partly due to a change in societal expectations and partly a difference in common story plots between then and now.
A Party Wire Muddle by Constance Wild
The Milksop by F. A. Mitchel
The New Girl She Found a Friend in Need by Clarissa Mackie
One of the main tropes during this period is coincidence.  Below are three stories (and believe me there were many more) that rest solely on a coincidence massive enough to be Shakespearian.  Just as I was beginning to lose hope, I found the last story on the list which actually goes against type.  It seems to me there is a research topic here about literary trends and their development.
If you’ve been looking at the authors, you’ll realize most of these stories have been written by three or four authors.  Many of them seemingly women.  However, my favorite of these authors is F.A. Mitchel.  The reason he’s my favorite is because his stories are the most diverse.  (Also in a couple of his stories he refers to East Tennessee, which is the correct name for that part of the state and he knows that East Tennessee supported the Union during the Civil War. I grew up in East Tennessee and it makes me happy when people get these things right.)  Below are a couple of his stories for a compare and contrast exercise.  They both are set during the Civil War in the South with a 11-12 year old boy as protagonist. However, compare the plots. Based on newspaper articles about Mitchel, I learned that he served in the Union army, and I definitely see some writer bias influencing the endings.
The Little Courier by F. A. Mitchel
The Little Bridge Burner A Civil War Story by F. A. Mitchel

From The Little Bridge Burner
The Western News - May 25, 1910
Whatever your reading tastes are, the historic newspapers of Chronicling America have a story for you.  So for all your travels or when staying at home, I hope you find the perfect reading material.

Harter, E. & Harter, D. (1991). Boilerplating America: The Hidden Newspaper. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America.
Johanningsmeir, C. (2004). "The Devil, Capitalism, and Frank Norris: Defining the 'Reading Field' for Sunday Newspaper Fiction, 1870-1910." American Periodicals, 14(1), 91-112.
Johanningsmeier, C. (1995). "Expanding the Scope of 'Periodical History' for Literary Studies: Irving Bacheller and His Newspaper Fiction Syndicate." American Periodicals, 5, 14-39.
Lichtenstein, Nelson (1978). "Authorial Professionalism and the Literary Marketplace 1885-1900." American Studies, 19(1), 35-53.

December 3, 2015

"Roughing It" with Jack Slade

by Barbara Pepper Rotness, Reference Librarian, Montana Historical Society

A recent Ken Burns documentary highlighting the life and works of Mark Twain reminded us that Twain auspiciously was born when Halley’s Comet was spotted on its 75- to 76-year trajectory around the sun. Twain himself famously remarked, “I came in with Halley's Comet... and I expect to go out with it." And, he did indeed die upon the next sighting of Halley’s Comet seventy-six years later on April 21, 1910.

During the course of his life, the environmental, political, and demographic landscape of America had dramatically changed. Mark Twain, born on November 30, 1835 as Samuel Langhorne Clemens, chronicled many of those significant events through his unique story-telling ability - that rare mixture of being an American, while providing an outsider’s perspective of the American culture of racism, hypocrisy, and provincialism. In his book, Innocents Abroad, Twain provided his prescription for overcoming those destructive traits: “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”.

Twain followed his own prescription throughout his life; however, when he was older and more content to stay home, he was forced to embark on a year-long worldwide lecture tour to overcome financial troubles. His travels at that time brought him to Montana for a week during the summer of 1895, and included performances in Great Falls, Butte, Anaconda (see article below), Helena, and Missoula.
Mark Twain's visit to Anaconda, MT
Anaconda Standard, August 3, 1895, page 3
From: Chronicling America

Much earlier than his 1895 visit to Montana, though, Mark Twain sent a letter to Virginia City in 1870 concerning the hanging of Jack Slade on March 10, 1864 by the Vigilance Committee. Twain wished to “rescue my late friend Slade from oblivion & set a sympathetic public to weeping for him."

As the letter mentions, Twain had met Slade before Slade made his way to Montana and Twain wanted to provide a different perspective concerning Slade's infamous character.

In his letter, Twain asked to obtain Virginia City newspaper articles about that period in Montana’s history and wished to include the story in a new book he was writing, later published as Roughing It.

The letter written and signed by Mark Twain is preserved in Montana Historical Society Archives Small Collection 104, The Hezekiah L. Hosmer Papers, 1848-1870, and is displayed below in two parts.

Letter written by Mark Twain, 1870.
The Hezekiah L. Hosmer Papers, 1848-1870, SC

Reading Chapters 10 and 11 concerning Slade in Roughing It, we learn what Twain was referring to when he states in this letter (above), "... I took breakfast with him and survived." Twain doesn't explain in his letter what he meant by that; however, one could misconstrue it as his sardonic way of saying the man is not as bad as his reputation.

Twain even describes his experience of first meeting the notorious Slade as being in the presence of a man of 'peerless bravery' and seems to admire this 'courageous desperado'.
Here was romance, and I sitting face to face with it!...Here, right by my side, was the actual ogre...I suppose I was the proudest stripling that ever traveled to see strange lands and wonderful people.
Upon further reading, though, Twain describes Slade as volatile, brutal, and unpredictable. After eating the meal Slade presided over, Twain feared that Slade's mercurial temperament might incite him to murder Twain, after all. Twain had heard that Slade had supposedly killed twenty-six people during his lifetime and Twain didn't want to be the twenty-seventh. In Chapter 10 of Roughing It, he describes the event:
He was so friendly and so gentle-spoken that I warmed to him in spite of his awful history. The coffee ran out. ...Slade was about to take it when he saw that my cup was empty.
Illustration of Mark Twain meeting Jack Slade by Benjamin Clinedinst
for 1899 edition of ROUGHING IT

He politely offered to fill it, but although I wanted it, I politely declined. I was afraid he had not killed anybody that morning, and might be needing diversion. But still with firm politeness he insisted on filling my cup...I thanked him and drank it, but it gave me no comfort, for I could not feel sure that he would not be sorry, presently, that he had given it away, and proceed to kill me to distract his thoughts from the loss. But nothing of the kind occurred.

Though Twain admitted to a romanticized view of Slade's 'desperado-nature', he still wondered, by Chapter 11, what could make a man kill so wantonly and without remorse.

...what could it have been that this stout-hearted Slade lacked?—this bloody, desperate, kindly-mannered, urbane gentleman, who never hesitated to warn his most ruffianly enemies that he would kill them whenever or wherever he came across them next! I think it is a conundrum worth investigating.
And, researchers have continued to investigate and try to understand Jack Slade and the history of Virginia City's vigilantism.

Come visit the Montana Historical Society Research Center to see this fascinating letter by one of America's most famous authors and learn about Jack Slade's life and death during a controversial and, still often confusing, aspect of Montana's history.

November 19, 2015

Evelyn Cameron's Dynamic Baggage

by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

Montana residents, through the MHS, are blessed to be in possession of Evelyn Cameron’s diaries (1893-1928), thousands of her photographs, Ewen’s ornithological articles, Evelyn’s cameras, and so much more. Each artifact and photo offers a glimpse into both the Camerons’ lives as well as homesteading history. In the words of biographer Donna Lucy, “Hers is perhaps the most complete portrait we have of one woman’s pioneer experience –a virtual home movie of life on the frontier.”

While the vastness of Cameron artifacts, photos, and papers allows a uniquely thorough study of her life and personality, two artifacts offer particularly poignant clues to understanding this amazing woman: first, a remnant of her former life as a daughter of wealthy British merchants, the second a tool to assist her as a homestead housekeeper.
MHS Artifact Collection
Evelyn Cameron Collection
The first is a late 1890s formal dress, purchased in London from the M.A. Gryll dress shop, located on Conduit Street, just off of the affluent shopping Bond Street district. It is formal and elegant. Created in two pieces, the dress is red silk satin draped with black lace. The bodice is figure hugging, and intended to be worn with a corset. The skirt, typical of the time, is bustle-free, but with a full behind and slender front. Cameron’s diaries make references to a “Gryll red dress.”[1] While she may have purchased the dress earlier, she had the dress with her during a twelve month visit to Scotland and England in 1900-1901. On October 27, 1900, she reported wearing the dress to a “long” family dinner in Banbury. They were served “soup, codfish, veal, fruit, sago, omelet dessert, walnuts, and chestnut, grapes.”[2] Other entries discuss having the dress altered and dyed.

The second artifact is a much-used 1890 edition of Mrs. Lincoln's Boston cook book: What to do and what not to do in cooking. Mrs. Cameron inscribed the inside cover with “New York, March 1890,” suggesting that she purchased the book in New York during the Cameron’s 1889-90 honeymoon trip to the U.S. and Montana. The volume epitomizes a loved cookbook, with stains on favorite pages and endpapers filled with hand written notes. Not only does the book’s condition testify to its use, but Cameron’s diary entries refer to the book as though it were a dear friend. September 14, 1898, she reported, “Soup, chicken & rice, remains of Sunday’s pie, greens, mashed tatoes, tea, cake, . . . Read Mrs. Lincoln.” On 5 April 1904 she wrote, “Made cookies, successful from Mrs. Lincoln.” Time and time again, Evelyn documented her joyful use of the cookbook.
Cameron obviously treasured both the dress as well as the cookbook. The dress crossed the Atlantic, perhaps several times. And Evelyn kept the gown for decades after she ceased using it, not unlike contemporary women who preserve their wedding dresses. The dress symbolized her former life of "long" meals and monies spent on current fashions. The cookbook, on the other hand, was purchased during the very earliest stages of the Camerons' marriage, hinting that Evelyn was planning for her own kitchen. Mrs. Lincoln's cookbook signifies Evelyn's successful transition from a woman raised with servants to a self-sufficient rancher, photographer, and housewife. Although Mrs. Cameron left behind a wealth of words, photographs, and artifacts, we need only these two treasures to recognize the choices made by Evelyn Cameron and her journey from England to Terry, Montana.
Catalog #PAc 90-87.35-5
"Evelyn Cameron Kneading a panful of dough in her kitchen, August 1904."
Photograph by Evelyn Cameron

[1] 1991.07.40 Dress, Montana Historical Society Museum

[2] Cameron diary, 27 October 1900.

November 6, 2015

Wikipedia and Montana History: Engaging the World's Largest Encyclopedia

By Jeff Malcomson, MHS Photo Archivist

When we need that quick information these days many of us turn to the Internet, and often our searching leads us to Wikipedia. With over five million separate articles in English alone, the popular Web-based encyclopedia has been around since 2001 and is now a staple of any Internet search. According to Wikipedia's own article about itself, content is developed "collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay." With over 26 million registered users, or "editors," many hands have built the resource that most of us use almost every day.

One of the main issues in using Wikipedia over the years from a research perspective is the perceived unreliability of the content. Many wikipedia articles are works-in-progress, with some more finished than others. The articles are only as good as the editors' knowledge of the subject and the sources that inform them. Many articles on people, places, and things in Montana's history are still awaiting creation, or in great need of improvement. This realization led me last summer to sign-up for a workshop called "WikiWrite." I wanted to use my knowledge of Montana history and the availability of numerous sources here at the MHS Research Center to improve Wikipedia articles on Montana history topics. That half-day at the MSU Library in Bozeman opened my eyes to the task of editing Wikipedia and gave me the time to learn the basics.
One thing I learned immediately was that Wikipedia itself had a substantial outreach to professionals like me in cultural institutions like the Montana Historical Society. Known as the GLAM-Wiki Initiative, which stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums with Wikipedia, this effort seeks to engage cultural institutions with Wikipedia, to build relationships to add content in the form of article text and digital versions of historical documents, photographs, maps, and works of art.

As Montana Historical Society staff we seek to promote the knowledge of Montana history to the widest possible public, so it seemed natural to explore the use of Wikipedia to accomplish that end. One way to promote the improvement of a particular subject area on Wikipedia is to hold an edit-a-thon. Just like it sounds, this is an event where interested editors get together for part of a day and add content and improve articles usually surrounding a theme. Taking inspiration from our Women's History Matters project, we decided that our first edit-a-thon should focus on creating or improving articles on women in Montana history.

Members of the staff of both the Montana Historical Society and the
Montana State Law Library participate in the first Wikipedia edit-a-thon
 held in Montana this past August in the MHS Research Center.
We hosted this initial event in the MHS Research Center on August 31. It was open to MHS staff and the staff of the Montana State Law Library. Though several staff members assisted in planning and supported the edit-a-thon, we had five active "editors" learning how to edit and improve articles. Together we created four new articles on Montana women Dolly Akers, Helen P. Clarke, Rose Hum Lee, and Beth Baker and improved two other articles on Ella Knowles Haskell and Mary Fields. We also created a "project" page where we placed info about the event and helpful links for our on-going effort to improve Wikipedia entries on Montana history.

As a first engagement with Wikipedia this event was a success.  In the future, we hope to continue to hold edit-a-thons every four months and draw in more MHS staff, volunteers, and even interested members of the general public to participate in this project. Watch for information about our next edit-a-thon coming in early 2016 and, in the meantime, investigate how you can work to improve "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit."

October 16, 2015

The Montana National Guard's service on the international stage

by Katey Myers, Summer Intern, MHS Library

The military is often seen as the four main branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps; while the National Guard is sometimes seen as a separate entity. This is far from the truth. The Montana National Guard has not only consistently played a role in the protection of the state, but also served on the national stage. The Montana Territorial Volunteers were established in 1867, over twenty years before Montana became a state. The First Montana Militia, later known as the Montana National Guard, would serve well beyond Montana’s borders.

During the Philippine-American War in the late 1890s, the 1st Montana Volunteer Infantry Regiment was called into federal service for the first time. Beginning as the 1st Regiment of Infantry in the Montana National Guard during the 1880s, the Volunteer Infantry was in service from May 1898 to October 1899. When the Volunteer Infantry was mustered out of service after the campaign, many of the men’s terms of enlistment were up. Very few - 114 infantry and cavalry soldiers - remained on the National Guard rosters.

With this small number serving in the Montana National Guard, efforts to rebuild the Guard were a priority for Adjunct General Charles English. A lack of funding and support from the state at the time led to inadequate equipment, uniforms, and training. According to English in Orlan Svingen’s Splendid Service: The Montana National Guard, 1867-2006, Montana guardsmen were facing obstacles that jeopardized the militia’s existence due to these inadequacies. With sufficient support from the state, English believed that “there is no reason the Montana National Guard should not rank first…and lead the way to the founding of a National Military Reserve.”

2nd Montana, 163rd Infantry
leaving for France from Helena, MT
October 24, 1917, World War I
MHS Photo Archives # 953-646
At the turn of the twentieth century, legislation from the federal government gave the National Guard a more permanent role in the military on a national level. The Guard’s annual appropriation was raised and equipment was issued by the federal government. In return for the appropriation, the Guard was expected to become a federal reserve force. Due to this change in the duties of the Guard, the Montana National Guard was reorganized and designated the 2nd Montana Infantry Regiment in 1901. Companies were formed all over the state and the Guard, with its new equipment, began a training regimen as well as participated in camps with the Army.

In June 1916, the 2nd Montana Infantry saw their first national service when the regiment was mobilized for guard duty during the Mexican border conflict after the Mexican Revolution. The regimental commander, Colonel “Dynamite Dan” Donohue, was rampant with his recruitment at the time and held extremely high standards for his men. According to Col. Donohue in Splendid Service, new recruits “needed to be from 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet three inches in height, weigh between 120 and 190 pounds, be able to speak, read, and write English, have generally good health, and be an American citizen.” After fulfilling these requirements, men were then subject to a rigorous training schedule during their time at Fort Harrison.

In early July 1916, the regiment set up camp in Douglas, Arizona. The 2nd Montana Infantry cleared their camp of vegetation and leveled the ground before tents and other structures were laid out in an orderly fashion. While tents were the earliest structures to be erected, a lack of building materials made it difficult to build anything such as mess halls, bathhouses, or any other structures. During their first month of border duty, the Montanans spent most of their time under sniper attack but only two fatalities occurred, both of which were health related.

The Montana Bugle, July 15, 1916
Printed in Douglas, Arizona
Recreational activities were a key part to the daily lives of the men as these activities were used to break up the monotony of continual patrols and afternoon thunderstorms. Chaplain McMullen obtained a large recreational tent for the troops where books and other publications, stationery, games, a piano, an organ, a phonograph, and a moving picture machine were available. During this time, The Montana Bugle was first published. A four page, weekly newspaper, The Montana Bugle (right - copy of one issue) contained news stories about the different companies and the border area, national stories, orders from Col. Donohue, camp gossip, and jokes. This paper was read by citizens in Montana as well as Guard members stationed on the Mexican border.

After only a few months in federal service, the regiment was demobilized at Fort Harrison in October 1916. The 2nd Montana Infantry would only have a few months of peace before once again the call to service was given. In March 1917, the regiment was mobilized in preparation for service in Europe. However, due to the labor unrest in Montana, the Guard began its active service protecting industrial and commercial enterprises that were experiencing strikes.  In July, the Guard was ordered to prepare for duty overseas. As the War Department integrated the National Guard into federal service, the 2nd Montana Infantry was re-designated as the 163rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Division.

Commemoration for the 163rd Infantry
MHS Library Poster P-697, 1917
The early months of the regiment’s service during World War I included training with the Army in camps across the U.S. After being sent overseas in December, the 41st Division was relegated to replacement and depot status. The 163rd was broken up as men were moved to various units. From there, the men continued their training in areas throughout France as well as serving along the front lines. In March 1919, the 163rd returned home.

During the 163rd's service in Europe, 39,276 Montanans served in the armed forces - including the National Guard, draftees, and regular enlistees - out of a state population of 496,131.

After World War I, the pre-war National Guard no longer existed. The Montana National Guard reformed in the 1920s and went on to serve the nation once again in World War II. 



2nd Montana Infantry. Collection #1887. Montana Military History Museum. Fort William Henry Harrison.

Shore, Chester K. Montana in the Wars. Miles City MT: Star Printing Company, 1977.

Svingen, Orlan J. Splendid Service: The Montana National Guard, 1867-2006. Pullman WA: Washington State University Press, 2010.

October 7, 2015

Chronicling America Hits 10 Million Pages!

By Natasha Hollenbach, Montana Digital Newspaper Project Assistant

From 2009-2015, the Montana Historical Society has been a participating member of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), which is a joint program between the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress and state institutions.  After three grant cycles, MHS has contributed just over 268,000 pages from 56 Montana newspapers to the Chronicling America website.

Today, Chronicling America past the 10 million page milestone. Containing newspapers published between 1836-1922 from 38 states and territories, Chronicling America is a tremendous resource for historians, students, genealogists and anyone else interested in our nation's history. Usually when we talk about Chronicling America, we focus on Montana newspapers. However, in celebrating this joint effort, it seems appropriate to showcase how valuable other states' newspapers can be in researching Montana's history and people.

From the founding of Montana territory to the Speculator Fire, major Montana events have made national news. 
Jeffersonian Democrat
Chardon, Ohio
July 8, 1864

The Indianapolis Journal
Indianapolis, Indiana
October 26, 1894
The Evening Current
Carlsbad, New Mexico
June 9, 1917

They have followed our wages, population and weather.
Maui News
Wailuku, Hawaii
January 10, 1919
Daily Capital Journal
Salem, Oregon
August 6, 1917

The Evening Current
Carlsbad, New Mexico
October 17, 1917

National newspapers also highlighted Montana's natural beauty and helped advertise our national parks.

New York Tribune
New York, New York
January 17, 1909
New York Tribune
New York, New York
October 22, 1919

St. Louis Republic
St. Louis, Missouri
June 12, 1904

Travel has always been a matter of interest to newspapers. The Butte Inter Mountain hosted a popularity contest in 1904 with the winners going to the World's Fair in St. Louis where they apparently made an impression on the local newspaper (right). In 1915, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin commented on a group of girls from Butte traveling in Hawaii (below).

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Honolulu, Hawaii
April 3, 1915

Meade County News
Meade, Kansas
July 19, 1917

Genealogists use newspapers to find family events: births, deaths, marriages, etc. Since researchers usually look in the newspapers where their ancestor lived, it is easy to overlook the possibility of finding them in other states. For example, to the right is a blurb from a Kansas paper, where a man currently living in Butte has arrived to visit his father. If you search the Kansas paper further, you find that this is the town where he was raised. Sometimes searching the newspapers outside of Montana leads to connections with other people and places.

Why don't you go to Chronicling America ( and search for your favorite Montana event or person and see what other states' newspapers were saying about them?  You never know what you'll discover in historic newspapers. 

September 25, 2015

Homicide in Montana Territory: An Initial Look

by Jeff Malcomson, Photograph Archivist

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

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

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

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

September 11, 2015

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

by Tom Ferris, Archival Photographer

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

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

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

Killing of a Buffalo (#981-011)

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

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



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


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

August 24, 2015

Saving ticket stubs for the future

by Katey Myers, Summer Intern, MHS Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 10, 2015

The Art and Science of Map Conservation and Preservation

Samantha Cook, Summer Intern, Montana Historical Society Archives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you to the Antonioli family for this generous donation!