October 7, 2020

Montana Legislative Women and Male Chauvinist Pigs

By Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

Montana Historical Society resources—from newspapers to diaries and letters to blogs—not only document the many milestones achieved by Montana’s women legislators, they also promote a deeper understanding of the inherent sexism faced by Montana’s pioneer female elected officials.

Portrait of Maggie Hathaway
Maggie Smith Hathaway outlined her positions on Prohibition, Child Welfare, and a “Workable Farm Loan Law” in this 1916 campaign flier. Maggie Smith Hathaway Collection, Mss 224, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana.

Montana Legislative Women (MLW) have been making history since rancher Maggie Hathaway and journalist Emma Ingalls walked into the House Chambers in 1917–Hathaway was a Stevensville Democrat; Ingalls was a Republican from Kalispell. Both women left important legacies. Ingalls chaired the House committee on Morals, Charities, and Reform while sponsoring HB 374, which created a separate vocational school for women. Hathaway introduced HB 63, which required local institutions to hire female attendants for female prisoners; HB 258, which detailed procedures for committing students to the School for the Deaf and Blind in Boulder as well as purchasing of a farm for the School; and HB 383, which required fire escapes for all multi-floored Montana schools. Hathaway’s Democratic colleagues elected her minority floor leader, the first woman in the country to hold such a distinction. She later acted as the Director of the Montana Bureau of Welfare. Both women participated in the ratification of Suffrage Amendment during the 1919 Extraordinary Session.

During the period between 1917-1939, twelve women joined the MLW. That number doubled from 1941-1971, when twenty-four women served in Montana’s Legislature. MLW members continued to make history. Elected in 1932, Wolf Point’s Dolly Cusker Akers was the first Native American to serve in the Montana House of Representatives. Mabel Cruickshank became the first women elected to the legislature from Gallatin County in 1936. An education advocate, she sponsored a bill creating adult education classes and schools throughout the state. Ellenore Bridenstine entered the state senate chamber in 1945, the first woman to serve in Montana’s upper chamber.

Participation in the Montana Women’s Caucus, the League of Women Voters, and the 1972 Constitutional Convention, prepared a new generation of women to tackle the male dominated state legislature. In 1973, nine women served. The 1975, 1977, and 1979 sessions each had fourteen women. Their names are familiar to many—Betty Babcock, Pat Regan, Dorothy Bradley, Ora Polly Holmes, and Aubyn Curtis, to name a few. Air Force wife Geraldine Travis from Great Falls was Montana’s first African American legislator. When asked about her priorities, she explained, “I believe in Black rights, women’s rights, children’s rights—human rights and dignity.”

Portrait of Emma Ingalls
Republican, journalist and suffragist Emma Ingalls sponsored the bill that created Mountain View Vocational School for Girls and introduced the national suffrage amendment when it came before the Montana House for ratification. MHS Photo Archives Legislative Collection, Montana House of Representatives, 15th Legislative Assembly, 1917

1970s MLW members played integral roles in bringing Montana laws in line with the new constitution. Victories included the addition of the clause “irreconcilable differences” as reason for a divorce, acts to prevent sexual discrimination in the work place, creation of laws preventing the discharge of a female employee due to pregnancy, and use of more inclusive language in lawmaking. Results of the latter included allowing women to be legal head of households, forbidding institutions to deny credit to a person based on gender, and redefining rape as assault on one person by another, rather than the narrow belief that rape was a man assaulting a woman.

MLW members discovered that as they battled discriminatory legislation, they also battled decades of poor behavior. For example, not until 1978 did Montana’s legislative women get a private restroom. From 1917 to 1979, MLW members watched their male counterparts take advantage of a private lavatory, often using the facility to avoid lobbyist. During this time, female legislators faced a gauntlet of lobbyists and press as they made their way to public restrooms. It was not until 1979 that they received a modicum of privacy with the installation of partitions; their bathroom situation further improved with the appropriation of monies for permanent facilities to accommodate their needs.

Snippet from the 28 April 1985 Helena Independent Record showing an image of Senator James Shaw with MCP
The Independent Record, 28 April 1985, pg. 1D

On the other hand, in 1985, Billing’s Senator Pat Regan took a humorous approach to bring attention to uncensored sexist remarks made by her fellow state senators. She kept a pink pig, labeled “MCP”—Male Chauvinist Pig—on her desk. When colleagues made sexist remarks, such as referring to staff as “gals” or “girls,” she had one of the pages deliver the MCP to their desk. One beneficiary earned the MCP by remarking that a woman murdered by her husband may have deserved it.

While the 2019 numbers did not break the record held by the 2015 legislature with forty-seven women, the percentage of Montana Legislative Women grows consistently. Each woman brings her own passions and style. They must be successful, because I have not heard the term “Male Chauvinist Pig” in quite some time.

For more information see:

July 13, 2020

Pictures Needed in the Telling

By Kirby Lambert, Outreach and Interpretation Program Manager

K. D. Swan at work, ca. 1936
Photographer: H. T. Gisborne, Courtesy of Elizabeth Starks

As you head out to enjoy Montana’s national forests this summer, take a minute to thank photographer K. D. Swan (1887—1970) for the role he played in preserving this incredible legacy. At a critical time in Forest Service history, Swan documented the public value of these natural reserves and widely promoted their use and protection.

For more than three decades, Swan photographed the Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service, an area that encompasses all of Montana as well as portions of Idaho and North and South Dakota. A native of Massachusetts and graduate of Harvard’s forestry school, Swan arrived in the Treasure State in 1911, six years after the Forest Service was formed. Initially, he surveyed homestead sites, planted trees, “cruised” timber to determine average tree sizes, volume, and quality, and worked as a topographic draftsman.

In the 1920s—recognizing the need for the agency to win further public support for its various programs and goals—the Forest Service established the Information and Education Branch. An accomplished photographer, Swan was soon transferred to the new division. As one chief later summarized Swan's charge: "There's a story there to be told, and pictures will be needed in the telling."

Hoodoo Lake Moose, #331160

Thereafter, Swan worked tirelessly, crafting exceptional photographs that dramatically illustrated the value that national forests held for the American people and vividly documented the myriad tasks involved in managing forest lands.

His images were used to illustrate numerous Forest Service publications—many of which he also authored—as well as non-agency publications ranging from National Geographic to the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor. In addition, Swan regularly toured the region, spreading the "gospel of forest conservation" through educational and entertaining programs that he illustrated with still and moving images that he had taken.

Swan retired from the Forest Service in 1947, but he continued writing and taking pictures of the forest, devoting his efforts to the cause he loved. In 1968 he published his memoir, Splendid Was the Trail. This highly readable narrative still offers a detailed look at life and work in a remote, sparsely populated region during the formative years of the forest service. Copies are available through your library or the MHS Museum Store.

Unless otherwise noted, all images courtesy of the USDA Forest Service, Region 1

USFS promotional pamphlet, MHS 634.9/SW34
Big Salmon Lake, #300292
Swan River near Salmon Prairie, #366216
Eagle Creek, #365158
Trail Riders Skirting the Chinese Wall, #346819

June 17, 2020

Lizzie Strohl Sketchbook

By Kirby Lambert, Outreach and Interpretation Program Manager

Sketchbook cover: Drawed by Elizabeth Strohl, Victor, Mont, 91 Years Old, Now Deceased.

Museums love to have the complete provenance, or history, of the artifacts in their collections. By knowing the “who, what, when, where, and why” associated with each item, we are able to gain a deeper understanding of the lessons that objects can teach us about our past. In spite of our best research efforts, however, sometimes it is simply not possible to uncover the untold stories about the materials we hold. Even so, items with little or no known story, can still educate and entertain us, while connecting us to the past in meaningful ways.

One example is the Lizzie Strohl sketchbook housed in our museum collection. This is what we know about the artist: Lizzie Buchanan was born in the community of New Chicago in Granite County, Montana Territory, on September 19, 1873. Her parents were Thomas and Luella Hatfield Buchanan. She married John Strohl in Deer Lodge on July 19, 1892. As reported in the New Northwest, the ceremony was held at the “Scott house” and was officiated by Judge Hartwell. The Strohls were farmers and had at least two sons—John, Jr., and George. Lizzie died on July 31, 1964, in Victor.

Dad Likes Jim; Susie Jane Likes Phillip So There is a Misunderstanding

These facts aren’t much to summarize a life of ninety-one years. No doubt Lizzie celebrated triumphs, suffered losses, loved her family, and endured the drudgery of hard work. For the most part, the sketches in her notebook document the quiet moments of daily life, with the chasing of a cattle rustler thrown in for a little excitement.

Clearly, Lizzie had no training in art and, most likely, only limited access to art supplies. So why did she choose to record her memories in this manner? And when did she create the drawings? At first glance, we might assume that this is the work of a child, but based on the presence of a car and the styles of some of the clothing depicted, we know that at least some of the images were not drawn before the 1920s when she was in her fifties. Or, maybe none of the scenes were executed until Lizzie neared the end of her life and she sought to record her fondest memories. We just don’t know.

These primitive drawings may always raise more questions than they answer but—for some of us at least—they still provide a heart-felt connection to the past and the lives of ordinary Montanans from long ago.

Noon Hour
Just a Pick Nick
Farmers Having a Chat Out in the West
In the Rockies, at a Prospectors Camp in Montana
After Cattle Thieves in the Rockies
Elk in Montana, Near the Black [sic] River
Cattle on the Range Near Drummond, Mont
Just Sweet Hearts at their Meeting Place
Out on the Home Stead
A Hereford Cow from One of the Herds from Dinwall Ranch in the Flint Creek Vallie, Mont

April 21, 2020

Spring Cleaning adds to depth and breadth of MHS archives collections

by Rich Aarstad, Senior Archivist

The first quarter of calendar year 2020 started with a crush.  In just three months, the Montana Historical Society Research Center added 425 linear feet of records to our archival holdings, greatly enhancing our labor history and corporate history collections. Now if you are wondering how much 425 feet is...think one football field plus four first downs and you get an idea of the size!  Below are some of the highlights of these new materials now in our permanent collections.

Montana Public Employees' Association—80 linear feet dating between 1945 and 2017. While this is a stand-alone collection, it has intellectual ties to the Montana Education Association, Montana Federation of Teachers, and MEA-MFT records already held at by MHS.

Established in 1945 to promote a retirement system for public employees (state, county, and municipal), MPEA merged with MEA-MFT in 2018 creating the Montana Federation of Public Employees.
The MPEA Master Contract has withstood the test of time as it commemorates its 44th year.
MFPE-MDT Local 3511
Courtesy Local President David Krause

Montana AFL-CIO—285 linear feet dating between 1923 and 2016. This new donation fills in the Montana AFL-CIO collection already held by MHS: MC 341 Montana State AFL-CIO records 1896-2000.

Onsite storage of MT AFL-CIO records
Tailgate preliminary processing
Jeff Malcomson, Photograph Archives Manager, and Roberta Gebhardt, Library Manager, lend a much needed hand.
Senior Photograph Archivist, Kellyn Younggren packing up historic photos.
Archivist's Toolkit

Montana Power Company—60 linear feet  dating between 1896 and 1999. This transfer from the Butte Silver Bow Public Archives is the missing link that pulls together UPMC 6 Montana Power Company records 1885-1979 and MC 268 Montana Power Company Predecessor Company records 1880-1947.

How many feet of archival records can you fit in a 1/2 ton four-door pickup with canopy. Turns out 60 linear feet!
Ingesting the collection.
Archivist's best friend—the 3 shelf cart

April 13, 2020

Musings from an Exhibit Designer

by Roberta Jones-Wallace

“Long sleeves” prepared for exhibition along with other items of clothing which it might have been worn (MHS catalog numbers 1986.79.21, 1986.79.94, 1986.79.105, and L2014.08.05)

Numerous activities occur behind the scenes here at the Montana Historical Society. Newly acquired artifacts coming in must be catalogued, condition-reported, and carefully stored. Later, when we look at objects, or art, for possible exhibition, we assess items by their looks, sure, but also for their back story (their provenance), their condition (in need of conservation, or good to go?), and how well they fit the story we are trying to tell.

We look at their mounting needs (how we will display them) and case needs (how we will protect them). We think about how long an item will need to be on exhibit and plan ways to mitigate exposure for items susceptible to the damage caused by light. Clothing might need a mannequin; artwork, matting and framing; other items, small mounts or supports to allow them to “shine.” Archival and fragile paper items may need to be rotated in and out of the exhibit more frequently than less sensitive materials.

We also have to consider cultural context. We have in our collections a beautiful Chinese shirt, which we sent out for conservation in preparation of the exhibit, “Our Forgotten Pioneers: The Chinese in Montana.” When the shirt came back, the conservator made the comment that the person who wore it must have been a gorilla because the sleeves were inordinately long and the shirt itself quite broad. For each exhibit we produce, we must respect the customs and culture depicted. Our Chinese exhibit challenged us in many ways to try to depict the Chinese in Montana and show the clothing in our collections to our best understanding. In my scramble to understand this shirt and other items of clothing I had to reach into my poor memory banks—for I was sure I had seen images of Chinese wearing clothing with overly long sleeves. And indeed, I did find that the Chinese had quite rigorous protocol for clothing, color, and symbols which reflected social status and profession. This lovely shirt with its overlong sleeves may have been worn by a scholar, definitely someone of a higher status since the sleeves would interfere with manual labor.

Each exhibit we do, especially when depicting another culture, challenges my cultural bias—forcing me to try to be as sensitive as possible to representing our collections in the most respectful way I or we understand. We try to include consultants to help us in that endeavor, and to correct things when we get them wrong.

April 6, 2020

“Opposition makes me stronger for you:” The interconnected lives of Jeannette and Wellington D. Rankin

By Barrett Codieck

Jeannette and Wellington Rankin, circa 1914. Catalog #944-477. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Photograph Archives.

Montana history enthusiasts need no introduction to Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), the first woman elected to the United States Congress. Over a dozen published biographies celebrate, mythologize, debunk, and simply seek to explain “Miss Jeannette.” Weaving in and out of every account of Jeannette’s life is the sometimes-enigmatic figure of her brother Wellington (1884-1966). No biographer can dismiss Wellington’s importance to his sister’s story, but the nature of the siblings’ relationship remains difficult to define. The Montana Historical Society Research Center holds newly expanded collections of the personal papers of both Rankins, offering new insights into these complex historical figures.

The Rankin family [date]: (L-R) Wellington, Harriet, John, Olive, Jeannette, and Philena. Catalog #Lot 039 B1F05.01. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Photograph Archives.

Besides the ties of family, two threads kept the Rankins connected throughout their lives: politics and money. Jeannette’s success in both of her elections were the result of favorable political circumstances and her great talent for organizing and campaigning in the field. However, both campaigns might never have happened without Wellington as campaign manager and financier. Once in office, Jeannette continued to seek Wellington’s political advice. Wellington was not shy to provide it, as he was dismayed by Jeannette’s antiwar votes and opposition to the all-powerful Anaconda Copper Mining Company.

Wellington’s opposition to Jeannette’s actions was not necessarily ideological, although the two siblings would drift in very different ideological directions over the years. Rather, Wellington seemed galled by his sister’s willingness to sacrifice her electability by embracing unpopular and politically dangerous positions. Given that Wellington would wage and lose eight campaigns for public office between 1914 and 1952, it is perhaps understandable that he considered electability to be a precious resource.

“I shall…vote my conviction regardless of future of political life.” Jeannette Rankin to Wellington Rankin, April 22, 1917. Jeannette Rankin papers, MC 147, box 1, folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives. (Hereafter JR papers)
“let your conviction be right and not sickly.” Wellington Rankin to Jeannette Rankin, April 22, 1917. JR papers, box 1, folder 1.
“Grieved at vote but opposition makes me stronger for you.” Wellington Rankin to Jeannette Rankin, April 28, 1917. In this case Wellington was partly misinformed, Jeannette had voted for a competing conscription bill instead of President Wilson’s. JR papers, box 1, folder 1.
“Mining companies no possible way to blame.” Wellington Rankin to Jeannette Rankin, June 20, 1917. Wellington correctly predicted Jeannette’s response to the Granite Mountain/Speculator Mine Disaster of 1917 and tried in vain to limit the political damage of opposing the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. JR papers, box 1, folder 1.

As critical as Wellington could be in private correspondence, in public he always maintained a united front with his sister. Even after Jeannette’s vote against entry into the Second World War made her politically toxic in Montana, Wellington refused to publicly criticize her during his own 1942 Senate run. Repaying loyalty with loyalty, during each of Wellington’s doomed campaigns Jeannette reached out to progressive and labor voters alienated by her brother’s increasing conservatism.

“My brother has been an active friend of labor always.” Jeannette Rankin to Edward Keating (editor of the newspaper Labor), June 11, 1934. Wellington D. Rankin papers, box 26, folder 4, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives. (Hereafter WR papers)

Money defined more than the Rankins’ political relationship, as Jeannette’s sources of income were often sporadic and unreliable while Wellington amassed an enormous fortune from his law practice, ranching empire, and business interests. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Jeannette relied upon Wellington’s financial support to care for their ailing mother and to afford expensive trips to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. At the same time, she adopted an idiosyncratic and anti-materialistic personal lifestyle and her politics became increasingly anti-capitalistic. This uncomfortable dynamic sometimes strained the siblings’ relationship, but again never broke their fundamental family loyalty.

“You were very good to send me the checks. For anyone without a salary I’m getting on fine.” Jeannette Rankin to Wellington Rankin, January 24, 1940. WR papers box 2, folder 9.
“I feel very badly over all the horrid things I said…I really do appreciate all you have done…to make it possible for me to go to Europe.” Jeannette Rankin to Wellington Rankin, July 25, 1937. WR papers box 2, folder 9.

Jeannette and Wellington’s relationship was far from that of typical siblings, yet its complex dynamics were driven by a relatable mix of love, loyalty, resentment, rivalry, and extreme familiarity common to all families. These archival records complement our understanding of the past and ultimately humanizes its very human subjects.

Explore the full finding aids to the Jeannette Rankin and Wellington D. Rankin papers.

March 30, 2020

The Exhibits are Lonely!

By Roberta Jones-Wallace, MHS Exhibit Designer

The exhibits are lonely—their main visitors now are staff continuing to work in the building and security staff making their rounds.

How do the exhibits and collections fill their time?

In the Russell gallery, cowboys meet around a campfire (no concern here for social distancing) where they tell jokes and stories, reminisce about their lives, or dream about future possibilities.

Another group is disrupted by a bronc, who has either had too much coffee, or not enough. Or perhaps he is simply enforcing the social distancing rule.

Charlie is ever ready to spin a yarn and add color to your imagination. He’ll model you a mini animal—something his talented fingers can do without supervision—and will pull from his pocket a surprise. Knowing Charlie's affinity for horses, you bet that's what it's going to be; but no … it's a pig. How clever. You guessed wrong—this beer is on you!

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.

February 28, 2020

J. P. Ball: Legendary African-American Photographer in Montana

Jeff Malcomson
Photograph Archives Manager
Montana Historical Society

Portrait of a music teacher, Helena,
ca.1887-1900 (Catalog # Lot 22 B8 F15 02)

From the unusual circumstance of being born to free black parents in 1825 Virginia, James Presley Ball lived a long life as a pioneering photographer and businessman.  Ball applied a portion of his pioneering spirit to his steady movement westward across the country, and another portion he applied to his early adoption and development of photographic skills and entrepreneurship.  Ball also pioneered as a social activist, using his photography for the advancement of African American rights and social and political acceptance.  [Ball’s intriguing life can be followed in an online exhibit created by the Cincinnati History Library and Archives where you can also browse or search nearly 300 of his photographs .

J. P. Ball arrived in Helena, Montana, late in life sometime in the fall of 1887, just two years before Montana achieved statehood.  He was an experienced and successful photographer, having worked decades since 1845 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and many other locations.  He strongly supported the abolition of slavery prior to the Civil War, and in the years following it he continued to promote the political and social advancement of African Americans.  His son, J. P. Ball, Jr. came to Helena with him, sharing his father’s political views and his father’s business, a photography studio then known as J. P. Ball and Son.  J. P. Ball Jr. published and edited a short-lived newspaper in Helena called The Colored Citizen, while his father remained active in the Republican Party and at one time served as president of the Afro-American Club, a state-wide support group for the black community in Montana.  Ball saw the Montana Territory become a state in 1889, Helena become the state capital in 1894, and he photographed the laying of the cornerstone for the Montana State Capitol building in 1899.  Ball followed his son to Seattle in 1900 and died in 1904.

Ball photographed a series of views from the ceremony to lay the cornerstone of the Montana State Capitol building in Helena on the 4th of July 1899 (Catalog # 957-627).

Though very little of his written record remains in Montana, Ball’s photographic legacy in the Treasure State is preserved through over 100 known Ball photographs in the collections of the Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives. He was first and foremost a master of studio portraiture; most of his extant work is individual studio portraits. Ball served all members of the Helena community, taking portraits of a U. S. Senator, a Chinese cook, an immigrant family fresh from Europe, and many other Helenans, both white and black. However, he occasionally took his camera outside to photograph significant events. His work documenting two public executions in Helena in 1896 is some of the most intriguing work by any photographer in 19th century Montana. We recently digitized over twenty of Ball’s more interesting photos. These can be browsed here on the Montana Memory Project. Several select images are displayed below.

Portrait of 'Tex' Rose, the long-time caretaker
at the Broadwater Hotel in Helena,
ca. 1891-1900 (Catalog # 957-598)
Portrait of an unidentified man, ca.1887-1900
(Catalog # 957-602)
Portrait of William Biggerstaff, a convicted
murderer, prior to his public hanging,
April 1896 (Catalog # 957-610)
Portrait of the body of William Biggerstaff, after his public hanging, April 1896 (Catalog # 957-613). For Ball’s images of his public execution and that of William Gay see the photos on the Montana Memory Project link above.