March 9, 2020

Read All About It!

Montana’s Content on Chronicling America Grows

By Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Projects Librarian

Last September, I shared how we selected newspapers for our latest National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant-funded project, which focuses on booms and busts after 1922. Now those titles are starting to appear on the Chronicling America website. As new papers come online, we’re going to share a little bit about why each paper was chosen. We hope this will serve as a reference, pique your interest, and encourage you to head to the site to search or browse.

Bozeman Courier (1921–1927)
Despite the agricultural depression starting in Montana immediately after World War I, the Courier doesn’t address the problem until 1926 and even then, it’s abstract. While several of the chosen papers deny that there are problems in the agricultural section, they are active and vocal in their denial. The Courier in contrast has no comment even while it is covering the extension school and including a weekly state livestock news section. While it might not take a stand on agriculture, the Courier definitely has political opinions. During this period, they are extremely isolationist and vocally Republican.

Carbon County Chronicle/Carbon County News/Red Lodge daily news combined with Carbon County News/ Carbon County News (1924–July 1945) Note: Right now, 1938–1945 is available online. This is one of the titles that was split across several batches.
Originally, we were going to digitize this paper starting with 1932, but by then the coal mines were mostly closed, so I extended the date range back. The extended date range includes not just the coal mine but rural electrification through the Beartooth Electric Co-operative, the intersection of transportation and tourism with the creation of the Beartooth Highway, the oil refinery which burned in 1941, CCC/WPA activities in the county, and fish hatcheries. Politically the Carbon County News is anti-New Deal, anti-Roosevelt, pro-business, and isolationist, which is an interesting combination with many of these topics.

Eureka Mirror(March 1932–November 1936)
The Mirror like most of the papers chosen have a little bit of everything, but something unusual that struck me was transportation. There is discussion of railroads, highways and airports, which is an area that we weren’t focusing on but that appears in several of the chosen titles, though not usually all in the same paper.

The Fort Peck Press (August 1934–May 1937)
The Fort Peck Press is specifically tied to the building of the dam. While many newspapers cover the Fort Peck Dam’s construction, the Press has weekly updates on how the project is developing. However, this coverage tends to be positive, so when scandal or controversy hits the dam, the Press usually ignores those stories.

Glasgow Courier (1942–1945)
Note: In a previous grant cycle we digitized 1915–1922.
We also want to recognize the boom and bust of military bases. While there were several other bases we could have used, the Glasgow Courier provides both a quick boom and bust cycle as well as a reasonable page count. In fact, my notes say that that I wanted to include 1946–1947 if page count allowed, but between this being one of the final papers chosen and the page count per issue increasing, it was necessary to stop at 1945.

Hungry Horse News (Aug 1946–1955)
Note: Currently, only Aug 1949–1954 is available online. The rest will be available soon.
There are a lot of things happening in this newspaper. The building of the Hungry Horse dam, the logging and Christmas tree industries, the story of the Anaconda Aluminium Company (from approval through building and opening to unionization), Forest Service activities and the Great Northern railroad. In addition to all that, it relays news from the surrounding communities.

The Kevin Courier/The Montana Courier/The Kevin Review (May 1922–June 1929)
If you’re discussing the oil industry in Montana, you have to include the Kevin Sunburst strike in the early 1920s, which kicked it all off. During this period, the Kevin papers shift from focusing almost solely on Kevin oil strikes to becoming a full-fledged community paper including local sports, automobiles, fiction, crossword puzzles, and the other material typical of community newspapers of the period.

Laurel Outlook (1944–1950)
We originally chose the Laurel Outlook for news about the refinery, and while it does have some discussion of that, it’s more valuable for its coverage of other topics including railroads, the local grain elevator, oil, veterans, and polio. We usually think of post-World War II as a boom era, but the Laurel Outlook shows the recovery and shortage issues of the immediate postwar era.

The Wolf Point Herald (1920–1932)
The Wolf Point Herald illustrates the depression era through its coverage of local events and institutions. The chosen date range shows how often businesses are changing hands and how hard the town is trying to attract employers. From grain elevators to oil and gas exploration, the Herald shows its community trying to adapt to the times.

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