• Earl and Esther Vance. Photo from the Montana Historical Society archives

    Stories, history project celebrate the women of Montana

    We’re proud of our Nov/Dec 2014 issue for a lot of reasons. One is the Women of Montana Section, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the successful women’s suffrage movement in Montana and features stories on author Mildred Walker and pilot Esther Vance.

    Nov. 3 was the official 100th anniversary date. There was lots to celebrate. Here’s a story about Jeanette Rankin from the Billings Gazette. Here’s a story about the pioneer women who first explored Glacier National Park.

    Our stories include features on Esther Vance and Mildred Walker – a couple of the other women who have made important marks on the history of Montana.

    On some fronts, Montana has been a progressive place when it comes to gender equality. Montana women won the right to vote a full six years before the right was granted nationwide with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

    To celebrate and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the successful Montana women’s suffrage movement, the Montana Historical Society has created its Montana Women’s History Matters project.

    The extensive collection of stories, photos, oral histories and educator resources is designed to help the Montana Historical Society promote an increased appreciation and understanding of the role of women in the Treasure State’s past.

    It’s available to view online at MontanaWomensHistory.org.

    On the project’s website you’ll be introduced to Montana women like Mamie Anderson Bridgewater, a leader of Helena’s black Baptist congregation in the early 1900s, and Bertha Grimm Gonder, one of the many women who were employed by Great Northern Railroad during WWI. Gonder’s career at Great Northern spanned almost 30 years.

    In all, the Montana Women’s History Matters project will include more than 100 stories about Montana women’s history by the of 2014. A book based on the stories is set to be released in 2015.

    Find more at MontanaWomensHistory.org.

    - Jenna

  • John Bozeman’s unhappy ending

    John Bozeman. Photo from the Montana Historical Society

    John Bozeman. Photo from the Montana Historical Society

    For our final 150th Montana Territory anniversary post here’s a little bit about John Bozeman . Yep. That Bozeman. Along he had a town named after him, turns out, he wasn’t in Montana too long:

    From Jesse Zentz:

    John Bozeman only lasted in Montana for five years, but this “character” played an important role in Montana’s early territorial days. He arrived in Montana in 1862 and died in 1867. It remains unclear whether he was killed by Blackfeet Indians or partner Tom Cover. Before his death, he helped plan the Bozeman Trail – a route from the Oregon Trail to Bannack – and he founded the city named after him in August of 1864.

    “He’s a son of Georgia. He’s clearly in flight from an unhappy marriage and an unhappy life down south. He’s in flight from the Civil War. He seems to be very good at promoting himself and he’s very good at finding schemes to pursue. In the end, he does not have a happy ending. He ends up getting shot in 1867 and one can only guess what happened there, but he may have been partly responsible. I’ll leave it at that,” said Ken Egan, executive director of Humanities Montana. 

    Just because we’re done celebrating, doesn’t mean there’s not more to see. First, check out this 365-day historical facts project from the Missoulian. Also, if you want to take part in an “official” celebration, the 41st Annual Montana History Conference, presented by the Montana Historical Society, will take place Sept. 18-20 in Helena and focus on Montana Milestones as in commemorates 150 years of Montana arriving on the map. For more information, visit www.mhs.mt.gov/education/ConferencesWorkshops.asp.

    - Jenna 

  • The Frey family on the southwest side of Great Falls in the early 1930s. A photographer would bring the cart and goat to homes, take a picture and create a postcard for families to purchase. Photo submitted by Joleen Frey

    Montana history buffs, this list is for you

    We’ve only started scratching the surface this week during our celebration of Montana’s history in the 150 years since it became a territory.

    There’s plenty more to learn. Once again, writer Jesse Zentz (have you checked out his story in our May/June issue yet?) has an awesome list of sources where you can find out more about Montana.

    It begins with the wonderful Montana Historical Society:

    Montana Historical Society

    Founded only a year after Montana became a territory, the Montana Historical Society is an unrivaled historical resource. Located in Helena, the Montana Historical Society Museum is home to an incredible collection of fine art and historical artifacts. You can visit the museum throughout the year. Learn more online at www.MontanaHistoricalSociety.org.

    Humanities Montana

    At www.HumantiesMontana.com, you can find information about events happening throughout the state, learn about a variety of grants and resources available, and much more.

    Your local library

    Montana’s libraries are full of amazing collections about Montana history, and thanks to a great online resource at www.MyMontanaLibrary.com, finding your local library is only a couple mouse clicks away. Most of the books mentioned above are available, along with many others.

    Take a road trip or a walk around town

    Located throughout Montana along some of the busiest highways and the lonely ones, too, the Montana Department of Transportation’s roadside signs offer some great historical tidbits about geological happenings in the state’s history. You can visit http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/geomarkers.shtml to find the signs.

    - Jenna

  • ‘All things mountainous’: How Montana became Montana

    The simplest Spanish translation of the word Montana is “all things mountainous.”

    But just how did the Montana of today get its name 150 years ago? The wonderful Kim Briggeman, a reporter for the Missoulian, has a great story on the naming of what is sometimes also called the Big Sky State.

    We’re celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Montana Territory this week (it was May 26, 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation creating the territory).

    Since, of course, a lot has happened.

    We’ve included part of the story in our May/June issue. If you want to know more, writer Jesse Zentz put together a list of books that delve deeper into a wide variety of Montana history subjects.

    Montana history recommended reading list:

    Montana 1864, by Kenneth Egan (due out in September 2014), explores the year Montana became a territory in detail, giving special attention to tribal nations.

    Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome, by Joseph Kinsey Howard, is a history book about Montana, but often reads like a novel and provides readers with detailed descriptions and a unique take on this state’s past.

    The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, edited by William Kittredge and Annick Smith, features a compilation of some of the very best writing about Montana, which is home to a surprising number of true literary artists.

    downloadMontana Territory and the Civil War, by Ken Robison, introduces readers to many of the people touched by the Civil War who populated Montana, demonstrating the incredible impact the events in the eastern United States had on the territory and state.

    Montana: A History of Two Centuries, by Michael P. Malone, Richard B Roeder, William L. Lang, offers a general but comprehensive textbook-style history of Montana.

    Territorial Politics and Government in Montana 1864-89, by Clark C. Spence, offers a close look at Montana’s early political landscape that eventually led to statehood in 1889.

    Montana: An Uncommon Land, by K. Ross Toole, provides another take on Montana history that’s as enjoyable to read as it is informative.

    - Jenna