June 23, 2016

And the award goes to…

by Randall Williams, Associate Editor, MHS Publications

Over its 65 years of publication, the Montana Historical Society’s quarterly periodical, Montana The Magazine of Western History, has amassed a considerable number of awards from a variety of organizations. These honors have solidified the magazine’s esteemed reputation in the field of western history, and also highlight an impressive track-record of individual and collaborative effort between MHS staff and outside scholars.

Montana's collection of "Wrangler Awards" from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

The magazine has a particularly noteworthy tradition of success with two of the most prestigious awards in the fields of western history and literature. Each year, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, selects recipients for its Western Heritage Awards in a variety of categories for literature, music, film, and television. Since 1991, Montana has won seven such awards, known as “Wranglers” for the iconic bronze statuette presented to winners, in the category of Literary: Magazine Article. The magazine’s winning articles include John H. Monnett, “A Northern Cheyenne Woman and Her Family Remember the Long Journey Home,” (Summer 2009); Dan Flores, “Bringing Home all the Pretty Horses: The Horse Trade and the Early American West, 1775-1825,” (Summer 2008); Jeffrey V. Pearson, “Tragedy at Red Cloud Agency: The Surrender, Confinement, and Death of Crazy Horse,” (Summer 2005); Paul Andrew Hutton, “Showdown at the Hollywood Corral: Wyatt Earp and the Movies,” (Summer 1995); Raphael Christy, “Charlie’s Hidden Agenda: Realism and Nostalgia in C.M. Russell’s Stories About Indians,” (Summer 1993); Peter H. Hassrick, “Western Art Museums: A Question of Style or Content,” (Summer 1992); and Jerry Keenan, “Yellowstone Kelly: From New York to Paradise,” (Summer 1990).

Likewise, since 1990, the Western Writers of America have selected or recognized with finalist status eleven Montana articles for their annual Spur Award in the category of Best Western Short Nonfiction. The Spur Awards, established in 1953, celebrate excellence in Western fiction, nonfiction, song, poetry, and script writing. Among the recent winners are Michael M. Miller, “Cowboys and Capitalists: The XIT Ranch in Texas and Montana, 1885-1912,” (Winter 2015); Lee I. Neidringhaus, “The N Bar N Ranch: A Legend of the Open Range Cattle Industry, 1885-99,” (Spring 2010); Paul Hedren, “The Contradictory Legacies of Buffalo Bill Cody’s First Scalp for Custer,” (Spring 2005); Judy Daubenmier, “Empty Saddles: Desertion from the Dashing U.S. Cavalry,” (Autumn 2004); Kerry R. Oman, “Winter in the Rockies: Winter Quarters of the Mountain Men,” Spring 2002); and Elliot West, “Golden Dreams: Colorado, California, and the Reimagining of America,” (Fall 1999); and Valerie Mathes, “Helen Hunt Jackson and the Ponca Controversy,” (Winter 1989).

A variety of other organizations have recognized recent articles in Montana. These include the Forest History Society (Sara Dant Ewert, “Evolution of an Environmentalist: Senator Frank Church and the Hells Canyon Controversy,” Spring 2001, and Alice Wondrak, “Wrestling with Horace Albright: Edmund Rogers, Visitors, and Bears in Yellowstone National Park,” (Autumn-Winter 2002), the Wild West History Association (Tiffany Clay, “A Call to Order: Law, Violence, and the Development of Montana’s Early Stockmen’s Organizations,” Autumn 2008), Westerner’s International (Monnett, “A Northern Cheyenne Woman”), the Wyoming Historical Society (Michael A. Amundson, “These Men Play Real Polo: An Elite Sport in the Cowboy State, 1890-1930,” Spring 2009), the Army Historical Foundation (James E. Potter, “Hunting in the Frontier Army: ‘The Great Source of Amusement’,” Autumn 2005), the Mormon History Association (Brian Q. Cannon, “Mormonism in Montana,” Spring 2006) and the Western History Association (Becky Matthews, “Changing Lives: Baptist Women, Benevolence, and Community on the Crow Reservation, 1904-1980,” Summer 2011).

Montana articles are also eligible for two annual “in-house” awards. Since 1978, the Vivian A. Paladin Award, so-named to honor the accomplishments and service of the magazine’s legendary former editor, has been conferred by the magazine’s editorial board, a panel of distinguished western historians from institutions throughout the United States and Canada. The Friends’ Choice Award, established in 2004, is conferred by the Friends of the Montana Historical Society, an organization composed of MHS’s dedicated volunteers. In many ways, these two prizes embody the magazine’s mission to bring high-quality scholarship to a wider readership with diverse interests.

All told, this record of accomplishment not only stands as testament to the talents of individual contributors and merits of particular articles, but it reflects the work of the Montana Historical Society as a whole. MHS employees stand among the ranks of Montana’s award-winning authors and assist outside scholars in their research efforts, while illustrations from the society’s carefully curated photographic holdings remain a hallmark of each issue and feature prominently in the magazine’s award-winning design. Montana’s legacy of recognized excellence is a point of pride for the society, representing  as it does one of the many ways in which MHS brings the history of Montana and the American West to the public in compelling and meaningful ways.

If you don't already get Montana, you can order a subscription or individual back issues either through the website (http://mhs.mt.gov/pubs/magazine) or by calling toll-free  (800) 243-9900. A full list of the magazine's awards can be found via the following link: http://mhs.mt.gov/pubs/magazine/Awards