April 11, 2016

News from the MHS Research Center - April 2016

by Molly Kruckenberg, Research Center Director

A monthly report of cool new (and sometimes old) collections, reference resources, and projects that you might be interested in.

New Online Resource

Montana Newspapers is now available for your use and research pleasure. Check it out! Also check out Natasha Hollenbach’s recent blog post about searching Chronicling America and Montana Newspapers for hints, tips and tricks on using the sites. We have already been approached about working with local historical organizations to add seven new titles to the site.

Cool Resources Available for Use

The Butte Tombstone Co. records (MC 247) are a valuable, but underutilized collection. The collection as a whole is 18 linear feet in size and contains business records, interoffice correspondence, account and cash books, general ledgers, organizational records, and subject files. Accounting for nearly a third of the collection, it is in the subject files where the genealogical material lies in the form of customer orders submitted to the company from 1904 to 1925. These orders contain information on the deceased person’s name, next of kin, dates of birth and death, and the shape, size and location of the monument. Although based out of Butte, it expanded offices to Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, and Missoula, as well as Idaho Falls, ID. It appears records were submitted by families of the deceased from all across the state.

Newly Received Collections (not yet processed, but available for use)

Fanny Sperry Steele Papers. These include papers documenting her career as a rodeo star, wild west show performer, dude ranch operator, and outfitter. Also included in the collection are the journals of her nephew and fellow Helena native, Dan Hilger. The archival collection is complimented nicely by a large collection of vintage photographs of Fanny and the Hilger family, as well as a number of artifacts accepted by the Museum.

Some Neat Things We’ve Been Working On

  • On Monday, March 21, the Research Center helped host 130 sixth graders from CR Anderson Middle School in Helena.   Each student spent 40 minutes in the Research Center conducting research on a specific Montana Territorial topic, from Red Cloud to Bair Knuckle Boxing and Harriet Sanders.  The successful day was a culmination of several months of planning with MHS Outreach & Interpretation staff and teachers from CR Anderson.
  • Government Records Archivist April Sparks and State Archivist Jodie Foley presented at the regional meeting of the Montana Association of School Business Officials discussing 2015 changes to records management laws and records retention requirements for local governments.

Come visit us to use these collections and explore Montana history!