March 22, 2018

A Visit from Silent Cal

by Kelly Burton, Film Archivist

President Calvin Coolidge and Superintendent Horace Albright at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 1927 (PAc 93-25)

When speaking about photography in the American West, few names are as ubiquitous as Haynes. Frank Jay Haynes made his name by documenting the settlement of the west, ultimately becoming the first official photographer of Yellowstone National Park. Upon his retirement in 1916, his son, Jack Ellis Haynes, inherited his father’s business and continued as the official park photographer until his death in 1962. Jack began shooting motion picture film of Yellowstone shortly after the advent of 16mm film in 1923, and aside from a handful of commercial films for the park and the Northern Pacific Railway, these films can be classified as home movies. The Jack Ellis Haynes collection at the Montana Historical Society (PAc 93-25) documents Yellowstone’s ecology and its employees from the 1920s to the 1950s, as well as Jack’s family life during this time. Footage of his 1930 marriage to Isabel Nauerth is part of the collection, and the couple’s daughter, Lida, grows up in front of her father’s camera lens.

Dr. Hubert Work (center) with Albright (right) in Yellowstone National Park, 1927 (PAc 93-25)

In addition to capturing the daily lives of those who lived and worked within the park, the collection also documents the leisure time of several well-known Yellowstone visitors. One reel in particular highlights the amount of promotion that Superintendent Horace Albright undertook on behalf of the park in the very busy year of 1927. Labeled the “Celebrities Reel” by the Haynes Studio, this film features several notable names from the worlds of politics and finance: Dr. Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior; Judge John H. Edwards, Assistant Secretary of the Interior; Dr. John Merriam, president of the Carnegie Institution in Washington D.C.; Dr. Harold Bryant, founder of the Yosemite Field School of Natural History; Will H. Hays, former U.S. Postmaster General and first chairman of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA); and Kenneth Chorley from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Foundation. It is worth noting that Yellowstone’s southern neighbor, Grand Teton National Park, was established in 1929, due in large part to Albright’s promotional efforts in the region.

Grace and Calvin Coolidge at Camp Roosevelt in Yellowstone, 1927 (PAc 93-25)

The most famous visitor on the “Celebrities Reel” is arguably President Calvin Coolidge, who came to Yellowstone with his wife, Grace, and his son, John, in the summer of 1927. After spending several weeks at their vacation lodge in South Dakota’s Black Hills, Interior Secretary Hubert Work urged the family to spend time in nearby Yellowstone before returning to Washington. (1) According to Albright’s memoir, the surprise visit came shortly after Coolidge issued the statement that he would not seek a second full term as president:
“Having made his decision not to run, he had thought he might as well add a few days to his vacation and get in some fishing in the park before returning to the summer heat of Washington. Bill Starling of the Secret Service came to Yellowstone with an advance party to check on security procedures, and wanted special protection measures taken. Starling told me not to announce ahead of time where the President would be going, and to be flexible with the planning because they might change the schedule with no notice. While I wanted to make it possible for the President to get his rest and relaxation fishing, I did not intend to miss the opportunity to push for some of our priorities.” (2)
Superintendent Albright ultimately satisfied Coolidge’s predilection for fishing, (3) and was even witness to the quiet president’s “peculiar style of wry, taciturn wit,”(4) but was somewhat less successful in discussing matters of park promotion with the president at that time. (5)

Albright and Coolidge at Artist Point in Yellowstone, 1927 (PAc 93-25)

The Haynes footage of the visit begins with the presidential motorcade approaching the north entrance to the park in Gardiner, Montana. Mounted park rangers salute from the side of the road as the automobile procession passes through Roosevelt Arch, so named for the president that laid its cornerstone in 1903. The touring group then poses in front of a wooden building at Camp Roosevelt, east of Mammoth Hot Springs on the Wyoming side of Yellowstone. Artist Point overlook on the south rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone provides Haynes with the most significant images from the celebrity visit, and it is from these viewing platforms that we see Superintendent Albright pointing out various features of the landscape to President Coolidge and his family.

Calvin, John, and Grace Coolidge at Artist Point, 1927 (PAc 93-25)

The Jack Ellis Haynes collection consists of 141 reels of 16mm film. Twenty of these films are available for viewing in the Montana Historical Society Research Center, and two of the commercial productions, Magic Yellowstone and Yellowstone Park: Scenic Wonderland of America, can be watched on the MHS Moving Image Archive YouTube playlist.

(1) Richard Bartlett. Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1985), 97.
(2) Horace M. Albright. The Birth of the National Park Service: the founding years (Salt Lake City: Howe Bros., 1985), 211-212.
(3) Bartlett, 97-98.
(4) Albright, 212.
(5) Bartlett, 98.

March 15, 2018

Oh, The Places You'll Go: A Research Request Journey

by Barbara Pepper-Rotness, Reference Librarian

The Montana Historical Society’s Research Center receives an average of twenty paid requests per month for information on various subjects. No matter the topic, each request provides us with a question we must answer and forces us to look more in-depth at materials we may not have previously. Once the search begins, we embark on a journey that hopefully leads to an answer; or, at minimum, provides the patron with one or two pieces of the puzzle he/she is trying to solve. Whatever the question, we are always fascinated by what we learn.

A request for information about a building in Helena arrived recently. The patron was interested in knowing when this structure was first built and who resided there, both of which are typically easy to ascertain.

After verifying that the building is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places, we can use the Helena Polk City Directories to determine who currently resides at the address. We can also see who lived there when it was first built by searching under the street address (only in the Polk’s from 1929 to the present).

1954 Polk City Directory

When was it built, though? We used the current resident’s name found in the Polk City Directory to search for the property in the online Montana Cadastral database. Nothing came up, though.  Since this database is for valuation of property owned, the most likely explanation is that the person who resides or does business there is not the owner. If you don’t have a name to search, you can zoom in on the associated map. Once you select the correct plat, the corresponding data will display. The cadastral data indicates that this cabin was built in 1953 and we can verify that against the Polk Directory to see if the address is listed before 1953. It wasn’t. In addition, we can check our Helena Sanborn maps for surveys of that area. In the collection of 1930-revised-to-1953 maps, there was nothing surveyed above the 1500 block of 11th Avenue.

Because our patron also wanted information about the people who resided at that location, we must go back to the Polk City Directories and determine who lived there when. We tracked that ownership from the first resident to the present, noting each year the ownership changed.

From the Spokesman Review, November 11, 1951, p.2
The gem of this search, however, was learning about the first owner, Jean Barnes Allen, who resided and did business at 1807 11th Avenue. We were pleasantly surprised to find a vertical file for her and it held surprises of its own. Jean sold, from her home business, antler and horn carvings that she fashioned into buttons, belts, and jewelry.

From the Great Falls Tribune, November  18, 1962, p.2

The highlight of Jean’s life, though, was when she rode an eleven-year-old Morgan horse called Black Beauty 1500 miles from Deer Lodge, Montana to Chicago, by herself, for the Century of Progress Exposition of 1933, a trip that took sixty-eight days. Although on her own for the ride itself, and with only $10.00 in her pocket, she was greeted by fans and was welcomed into homes along the way. Of her experience in Chicago, she commented, “I had been told to watch out for gangsters in Chicago, but the only person I saw who looked like a gangster turned out to be an evangelist.”

From the Great Falls Tribune, November 18, 1962, p.2

We never know what we will learn, and will want to continue learning about, in our quest to help our patrons!

Mac, ‘Tana. “Helena Woman recalls 1,500-Mile Ride on Horse.” Great Falls Tribune, November 18, 1962.
Friesen, Phyllis L. “When Extra Money Needed…Hobby Became Career.” Great Falls Tribune, March 29, 1970.
Helton, Dorothy. “Montana Headline Girl Runs Side-of-the-road Shop” Spokesman Review, November 11, 1951.

March 2, 2018

Montana Madness: The Other Big Tournament This March

This March, sixteen objects from the Montana Historical Society’s vast collections are competing in “Montana Madness” for the title of Montana’s Most Awesome Object.

The competition, modeled on the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, will pit object against object from the Montana Historical Society’s museum, archives, and library collections.
Throughout the month, objects will face-off in online polls that will be promoted on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MontanaMadness. But the game isn’t limited to Facebook and Twitter. Anyone can download a Sweet Sixteen bracket from the Montana Historical Society website home page, where they can also vote on the objects they think should advance in the tournament.

Those voting through the website can enter a sweepstakes to win a one-year family membership to the Montana Historical Society, a signed copy of Montana's Charlie Russell: Art in the Collection of the Montana Historical Society, by Jennifer Bottomly-O'looney and Kirby Lambert, or a 7 ½” x 9 ½” print of Night Storm, by Blackfeet artist Gale Running Wolf, Sr.

According to MHS Historical Specialist Martha Kohl, “The Montana Madness competition is our way of having a little fun while looking to expand the audience for Montana history.”
History enthusiasts chose the Sweet Sixteen competitors from 65 objects displayed in the Society’s new online exhibit, “Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object.”

Let's meet the Sweet 16 objects and view the matchups. For the story behind the object, follow the links in blue below.

Group A - Voting March 5-March 11

The Smith Mine Disaster Board, 1943 (#1 Seed) squares off against the "Square & Compass" Branding Iron, 1899 (#16 Seed), both from Montanans at Work.

Lewis and Clark Bridge Near Wolf Point, 1930 (#5 Seed) from Montanans in Motion plays the game with the Faro Board and Casekeep, ca. 1920 (#12 Seed) from Montanans at Play.

White Swan's Painted Robe, ca. 1880 (#4 Seed) from Montanans in Conflict faces off against Fort Benton Weather Vane, ca. 1854 (#13 Seed) from Coming to Montana.

Elk Tooth Dress, before 1860 (#7 Seed) from Montana Before Montana versus A’aninin (Gros Ventre) Tipi Liner, 1875-1900 (#10 Seed) from Montanans at Home: in a style battle between fashion and home decor, which one is better?

Group B - Voting March 12-March 18

Montana State Federation of Labor Certificate of Affiliation, 1908 (#2 Seed) tries to organize its way out of the challenge thrown down by Cree Gauntlet Gloves, 1910 (#15 Seed), both from Becoming Montanans.

Shoe Worn by Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin, ca. 1914 (#6 Seed) from Montana and the Nation has a crushing competition with Petroglyph, 350-2,000 before present (#11 Seed) from Montana Before Montana.

When the Land Belonged to God by Charles M. Russell, 1914 (#3 Seed) from Montana State of Mind battles Fisherman's Map of Montana by Jolly Lindgren, 1940 (#14 Seed) from Montanans at Play.

Letter Written at Three Forks, Montana, 1810 (#9 Seed) from Coming to Montana tries to (paper)cut the Beaded Cradleboard, ca. 1900 (#8 Seed) from Montanans in Motion out of the competition.

Don't miss your chance to participate.  Download your bracket today!