July 28, 2017

The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company

by Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Services Technician

 Sanders County Ledger (Thompson Falls, MT)

Newspaper ads for the Mountain State Telephone and Telegraph Co (MST&T) have always stood out to me, but the ad above convinced me that they were worthy of a blog post.  Well, technically the ad I saw wasn’t this specific one because MST&T was prolific in their advertising.  With few exceptions, all the ads I’ve seen were published in multiple Montana newspapers. Considering that MST&T served Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico plus the western corner of Texas, it isn’t surprising that I’ve seen many of them in Idaho newspapers as well.

The truth about blog posts is that most of us over-research them.  Most of the information that we find and sources we consult never make it into the post.  In this case, I clipped an instance of every unique ad I could find. When I found the same ad in multiple places, I choose which one to keep first by image quality and then trying to use as many newspapers as possible.  The ads date from December 1911 (shortly after the founding of the company) until January 1924 (when I realized I had 103 ads and should really stop).

I know 103 ads sounds a little crazy, but I was going to talk about the themes found in the ads and how they changed over time. It seemed like a good idea, but I had a difficult time selecting which special few to share. Instead I thought it would be fun to open the collection up to you all so that you can tell me what you find interesting.

There are a couple of ways to view the collection.  If you’d like a collage-type experience, you can see the Pinterest Board here.  If you’d like a more organized approach, they can be viewed here in an exhibit where you can look at the ads by location (using the map), title (on the right) or chronology (using the timeline at the bottom).  When you click on an item, the item's record will pop up.  Scroll to the bottom to find the image and then click on it to view.

Is there an ad that really stands out to you? As you look through the collection, what do you notice?Do you have a favorite? I’d love to know so comment below.

Below are a few of my favorites to get you started.

I like these two together to show the difference in attitude towards WWI between 1914 and 1917.

Big Timber Pioneer
November 5, 1914     
Mineral Independent (Superior, MT)
June 28, 1917

This ad is a good visual representation of how the company tries to explain their financial situation.

Mineral Independent (Superior, MT)
November 16, 1916

This one always makes me laugh.  Probably because when I first saw it, I was starting a walking challenge, which constantly emphasized “More Steps”.
Choteau Acantha
June 14, 1923

Lastly, this one has my favorite image.

River Press (Fort Benton, MT)
February 9, 1915