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Montana Historical Society

The Montana Historical Society
report to the 53 rd Legislative
Assembly and the State of Montana




JAN 1' 1S93


1515 E. 6th AVE.

DECEMBER 1 , 1992

1 2008



3 0864 0016 3313 3


Since its founding in I865 f the Montana Historical Society has
remained firmly committed to preserving and interpreting Montana
and western American history. This is the foundation upon which
all Society program activity is built.

As outlined by statute since the Society became a state agency in
1891, the mission of the Montana Historical Society is to:

Collect, preserve, and interpret material that reflects and
documents the history and prehistory of Montana and the

Interpret Montana history through study, exhibits,
publications, and educational programs.

Encourage the preservation of Montana's historical,
architectural, archaeological, and related cultural

Encourage and support high-quality research, publications,
and exhibits that interpret local, state, and regional
history, and cooperate with other institutions toward those

Keeping its statutory mission in mind, the Society's major goals
for long-term growth and development are:

To continually improve the level and quality of service the
Society provides to all its constituents.

To improve the support services and facilities required to
preserve properly the collected materials entrusted to the

To enhance the Society's reputation and develop its presence
as not only the oldest but also the finest historical
organization in the West.

To consistently exceed visitor expectations.

To be among the very best historical organizations, anywhere,
at which to work.

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Montana State Library


The Montana Historical Society is organized into four operating
units, each headed by a program manager who reports to the Society
director. These units are Library/Archives, Museum, Publications,
and State Historic Preservation Office.

Overall, Society management is the responsibility of an
administration program, which includes the director's office,
public information, business office, personnel, security,
facilities management, and state government liaison. The
Society's membership is also part of administration.



The Centralized Services at the Society provides Security, Public
Relations, Accounting, Personnel and other support services to all
agency programs.

The Security unit provides overall security for the agency and its
irreplaceable collections. Security includes maintenance of the
intrusion security system, passive observation of visitors, crowd
control for public events, checking of parcels, bags, etc. when
visitors and staff depart, and providing emergency and accident
response. As important is the public information aspect of the
responsibilities for security courteously provides information to
visitors on the exhibits, Montana history, travel in Montana,
sites and services in Helena and to answer other questions as

The program's public information office provides public
information to inform thousands of Montanans about events,
exhibits and other services designed to educate people about
Montana's heritage and to further efforts to collect and preserve
the State's history. This is accomplished via news releases,
public service announcements, special reports, and national

The work of the Accounting/Personnel unit includes budgeting,
accounting, fiscal reporting, maintenance and operation of SBAS
on-line, all personnel matters, cash handling, accounts receivable
and payable, property control, payroll, building management,
expenditure review, contracts, monitoring of federal grants and
purchasing. The staff represent the agency in transactions with
appropriate government agencies such as the Legislative Auditor,
the Budget office and Accounting Division.

1992/1993 BIENNIDM

The public information office produced more than 100 news releases
during the period and generated numerous public service
announcements and other electronic media programs that were aired
statewide. Major stories with pictures on topics ranging from the
donation of Sitting Bull's weapons to the Society to historic sign
programs for properties on the National Register of Historic
Places appeared in every major newspaper in the state and many
weekly papers.

The program generated stories nationally that highlighted

historical museums and sites available in Montana, and answered

inquiries from such organizations as the Old West Trail

Foundation, travel publications, tour agents and other

The program also generated special reports on issues faced by the
Society and ways to address them.

The Accounting function implemented an Accounts Receivable
software package. This system has enhanced SBAS and computerized
functions that were performed manually. As a result of this new
system the Society produces computerized statements, control
reports, age analysis reports, year end reports providing accrual
information, also customer accounts are now updated daily and any
questions concerning customers' accounts such as payments or
balances can be obtained momentarily and are current. This saves
an enormous amount of time, reduces the amount of errors, and
overall has enhanced the credibility of the Society to its

Also during the last Biennium a major percentage of Accounting and
Personnel time has been attributed implementing results of the
actions of the two Legislative Special Sessions. The time spent
was attributed to determining where and how the Agency could take
cuts without devastation to the Society. The time was also spent
allocating and implementing the actual cuts appropriated by the

During the last Biennium Centralized Services has on an annual

- Provided Security of the collections and provided
information to 90,363 visitors.

- Performed 3,225 Security inspections.

- Produced more than 100 news releases during the report
period and generated numerous public service announcements
and other electronic media programs that were aired

- Maintained grant and contract management for 61 awards.

- Processed 2,700 SBAS documents and 3.017 warrants for the
applicable claims.

- Maintained the Accounts Receivable System for 568 clients
and process 6,816 applicable statements.

- Reviewed 408 SBAS Centers for accuracy and budgetary

- Tracked 5 programs monthly.

- Processed 1,400 Payroll forms and records.
1994/1995 BIENNIUM

The Society has requested an additional .5 FTE Security guard to
allow opening the Society on weekends and most holidays throughout
the year. It would also allow increased staffing on weekends
which would permit the Society to open the upper floors of the
building to public access.

An increase in the Society's Public Information Officer is
anticipated to increase the amount of information disseminated by
the Society, particularly in the areas of programming and
collections, to achieve a level of awareness in those areas which
will better serve the Montana public.

Although no additional moneys have been requested for the
Accounting/Personnel aspect of this program, we plan to expand our
Software capabilities to include a Budget spreadsheet to provide
an effective budgeting tool. Plans are also made to enhance the
Merchandise system to more appropriately coincide with the
Statewide Budgeting Accounting System.

Efforts to find new and better ways to improve the Security,
Accounting System, the citizen access and awareness of Society
programs and services including such things as remote tele-
conferencing, video conferencing and Historical videos is

The focus of this program is to provide Security for the
collections of the state, provide information to the visitors,
maintain an Accounting System in accordance with Generally
Accepted Accounting Principles, and to take the Society into every
corner of this state and to involve as many citizens as possible
in preserving Montana heritage.


The Library and Archives program incorporates four functional
sections. Dating its collecting from 1865 and its public reference
service from 1887, the library is the oldest department of the
Society. Although pioneer diaries and correspondence had long
been collected, and the Society had already taken in some state
records for safekeeping, the state archives was not officially
created until 1969. The photographic archives became a separately-
maintained collection in 1974, while the oral history section has

operated since 1981.

The program houses and services the nation's premiere collection
of Montana-related books, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers,
magazines, government records and paper ephemera. Its collections
contain over 100,000 volumes, 150,000 historical images, 11,000
reels of microfilm, 16,000 maps, 1,500 taped interviews, and
1 1 ,000 cubic feet of manuscripts and territorial and state
government records.

A staff of 15 is responsible for collecting, organizing,
preserving, and assisting the public and the staff of other
Society programs in the use of this wealth of research material.
For security and preservation, materials do not circulate, but are
made available to visitors through two public reference rooms.
The program also operates a darkroom to provide photographic
prints to the public and for exhibits, and shares with the museum
the use of a small conservation laboratory. The Archives provides
a special service to other state offices, helping them identify
their records which have historical value, and arranging for their
transfer to the archives for permanent keeping and research use.
The program encourages significant new contributions to Montana
history through the annual James H. Bradley Summer Fellowships.
Funded by an endowment from a private citizen, the Bradleys
support two scholars during a four weeks research residency. The
scholars are expected to later submit an article for possible
publication in the Society's quarterly magazine. The State
Archivist serves as the coordinator and chair of the
gubernatorially-appointed State Historic Records Advisory Council,
which reviews and makes recommendations to the National Historical
Publications and Records Commission on proposals from Montana
institutions seeking federal grant funds for archival projects.

Fiscal Year 92 Activities and Accomplishments

Reference, Research, Technical and Professional Assistance

The program's most visible public service is assisting visitors in
its two public reference rooms, that of the library and the
archives which is open 8-5 weekdays, and that of the photo
archives, where a lack of sufficient staff restricts the public
hours to afternoons only. Staff help students, genealogists,
academic scholars, other state employees, contract historians, and
a broad spectrum of the general public from Montana and out-of-
state find material in the collections pertinent to their
interests, and, as subject experts in Montana history, often
advise on interpreting these materials. Reference staff also
respond to requests by mail and telephone both for information on
Montana history and, from libraries, historical societies and
museums, and local governments around the state and sometimes
from their colleagues in other states, for professional advice on
the proper handling of such special materials as business records

or historical photographs.

The program experienced a new annual record 3.504 researcher
visits during FY92. The quarterly total of 1,035 registrants from
July through September, 1991, has been topped only by the 1,215 of
the same quarter just past. It also responded to 2,580 requests
for information by mail, of which 70$ came from outside Montana,
and to over 10,600 telephone inquiries. Contributing to the
general upsurge in inquiries has been the recent burst of movie-
making in Montana, as the production companies of both Far and
Away and A River Runs Through It made heavy use of the reference
and photograph services, especially by phone and mail. Staff
fielded such questions from the scriptwriters for the Robert
Redford film as whether the term "elementary school" would have
been used in the 1920's, and what was the name of the Missoula
elementary school that Norman Maclean would have gone to if he had
not been tutored at home by his father. They also helped an
assistant to the actor playing Paul locate newspaper articles in
the 1937 Helena Independent written by the actual Paul Maclean.
Calls from designers of the sets for Tom Cruise's film being shot
in Billings set staff to searching the library's collection for a
poster that was both colorful and displayed prominently the date
1912, to lend authenticity to the setting during a brief camera
pan. This eventually resulted in providing a reproduction of an
advertisement for a hot-air balloon show, the visual interest of
the picture overriding the fact the actual event had been in 1928.
The success of the PBS Civil War documentary has inspired no fewer
than three producers to attempt a similiar series on the 19th-
century west, all of whom have made and are still making frequent
and usually urgent requests for copies of photographs and
photocopies of any dramatic but relatively unknown diaries or
batches of pioneer correspondence, as well as for factual

A special, good will service provided by the library is the
"school packet." This contains an assortment of brochures, post
cards, a current travel guide and highway map, and a copy of a 20-
page booklet entitled Montana, A Classroom Guide to the Study of
the State , compiled by the reference historian, and published with
funding support from the Office of Public Instruction. In FY92,
429 of these packets were sent in response to the pleas of school
children around the nation for free materials about Montana and
its history to fulfill an assigned school project.

The Photo Archives produced 1 ,507 prints for the public from
photographs in the collection, including 47 exhibit-quality prints
for the Prairie County Museum, 17 for the Western Heritage Center
in Billings for an exhibit on the Yellowstone Valley, and 32 for
the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, for a forthcoming
book on Charles M. Russell. 38 extra high-quality prints were
also produced for the Society's own "Medicine in Montana" exhibit.

The Archives staff responded to 200 requests from 76 state offices
for advice and assistance on records, and also advised records
custodians in Mineral, Glacier, Musselshell, Stillwater and
Yellowstone Counties. The archives also provided a two-day,
intensive introduction to the special methodologies of archives
work to staff from the recently-established Crow tribal archives
at Big Horn Community College.

For their preservation and to ensure their availability when
called for, most of the program's materials must be used in the
public reading rooms. It does, however, share its most sought-
after resource with researchers everywhere through the
interlibrary loan of microfilm copies of its Montana newspapers.
In FY 92, the library responded to 642 loan requests and mailed
out 3,210 reels of microfilm, as well as some non-rare books of
which it has duplicate copies.

Collection Development

Building and improving its diverse collections is another primary
function of the Library and Archives Program. These collections
are the present Society's main legacy to the future. In FY92, the
library maintained about its average rate of acquisition as it
accessioned 3,592 items, including 328 books. It also checked in
the 4,600+ issues of every Montana daily and weekly newspapers.
The archives acquired 59 new manuscript collections totalling 401
cubic feet, and took in 257 cubic feet of older state records from
other agencies. The photographic archives acquired 4,216
additional images.

For most of these acquisitions, the program relied on the
generosity of private donors or other institutions. While the
library section has some monies for acquiring material in its
general fund budget and uses it principally to purchase pertinent
books and magazines before they go out-of-print and become,
ultimately, more expensive and time-consuming to obtain, purchases
comprised less than 20? of the library's additions. All the
additions to the archives and photo archives came by gift or, in
a few cases with photographs, through the trade of duplicates with
private collectors. All told, 185 private citizens and other
institutions donated materials.

Important photograph collections acquired included 348 images from
a donor in Chinook, of families, buildings and scenes of the
Hollandville community in Blaine County, 299 photographs from a
Missoula resident recording her father's military service in the
Pacific in World War II with the regiment drawn from the Montana
National Guard, and 173 photographs of agricultural equipment and
rural work and social events of the 1920's from the Lewis & Clark
County Extension Office.

The Archives received valuable additional material for its Evelyn


Cameron collection from the biographer of the English expatriate
who produced a remarkable photographic documentation of
homesteading in eastern Montana early in the century. 15 feet of
records documenting the state's management of its forested lands
from 1920 through 1989 were transferred from the Forestry Division
in Missoula. A subject area in which holdings were weak was much
improved by the family's donation of 26 feet of the papers of
Perry Melton, Kalispell native, an activist in organized labor,
and the editor of the Treaure State Labor Journal. The papers
span 59 years of activity, starting in 1930. Almost equally
extensive a period of time is covered in the 1 1 linear feet of the
papers of Dave M. Manning, which document many of Mr. Manning's
business activities as well as his years in the legislature from
1933 through 1984. The senator from Hysham became the longest-
serving state legislator in history before his retirement.

For the library, it was a banner year for additions to what is
already the nation's most complete collection of Montana
newspapers. Especially important was the discovery that the Miles
City Public Library had in the original the first 12 years of the
first daily newspaper in that most famous of Montana "cowtowns,"
the Daily Yellowstone Journal. Except for a few scattered issues
of the daily, the Society's collection had only the weekly version
of the Journal to cover the years 1882 through 1894. The
Library's director and its Board of Trustees kindly loaned the
daily for microfilming, thus ensuring for all Montanans that its
contents would be safely preserved. Also obtained for
microfilming was the only issue of the Libby Miner known to be
extant, dated November 19, 1892. The newspaper collection
received by donation yet another apparent lone survivor, the only
known complete issue of the Chronotype , published June 5, 1914 in
Carter, in Chouteau County, along with the first issue it has ever
had of another Carter paper, the Herald , dated in 1918. While
private citizens and other libraries hold a few more issues of the
Herald , no sizable run of this homesteading town newspaper, which
apparently published for over thirteen years, has yet come to
light. By trading for some duplicate city directories with
private collectors, the library also acquired six additional
issues of the Helena Rocky Mountain Gazette for 1872. It is an
unusual year when this many previously unheld newspaper titles and
issues can be added.

Inventorying, Cataloging and Processing

Until cards for books and maps are put in the public card catalog,
and sorting, weeding, arranging and inventories done for the
incoming collections of manuscripts, records and photographs, the
materials are not truly accessible to the public. This crucial
work goes on unseen and unheralded, but necessarily occupies a
good deal of staff time, of which there is not always enough to
keep up.


The library's cataloger and technical processing staff did succeed
in keeping up with the year's acquisitions, and even in clearing
some gift items and problems from earlier years. The library
entered 1,135 new records into the Western Library Network (WLN),
the regional data base used by hundreds of libraries in the
Pacific Northwest. Because the donations are often large in bulk,
and a large manuscript or records collection can take months to
process and inventory with any thoroughness, the archives is
usually not able to process as much material as it receives during
a given year. Archives staff did complete processing on 32
collections, totalling 165 cubic feet. A brief summary
description and some subject headings for every collection taken
in were added to the automated and manual catalogs, thus providing
some broad access. The photo archives faces even a messier
situation, inasmuch as, while manuscripts and records often have
some order given them by their creator or originating office that
permits a general "box inventory" to be done fairly quickly, many
donations of photographs come as boxes of unorganized images which
must be sifted and arranged into some order before a user can
locate possibly relevant photographs without searching through the
entire collection. While the photo archives, lacking sufficient
staff to assign someone to cataloging and inventorying as a
principal duty, could not complete a detailed inventory on any
collection, such sorting was completed on six collections
totalling 4,351 images, and, as with the archives, some control
over and some access to all collections received during the year
was gained through a descriptive accession record maintained by


In the Library and Archives program, the present and the future
are sometimes in conflict. With its reference and research
services, its finding aids and catalogs, its entries in dozens of
national directories that describe its collections, and through
entering its current acquisitions into WLN, the Pacific Northwest
regional network, and its newspaper holdings into a national
database tapped by thousands of libraries, the program strives to
raise awareness of what is in its collections and thus encourage
their use. At the same time, it has statutory responsibility to
preserve these same materials as best it can for the use and
enjoyment of later generations. Much of its preservation work
consists of transferring incoming materials into proper storage
containers such as acid-free folders for documents, and inert
plastic sleeves for photographs. Materials are also examined for
mold or insects, cleaned, paper clips and staples removed, and
flattened or humidified as needed. All footage processed by the
archives received such attention. In addition, the archives
replaced documents too fragile for repeated handling or which were
on deterioratied paper such as thermofax with 2,436 permanent
paper photocopies, and repaired 72 audiotapes, while the
photograph archives cleaned, sleeved and provided proper storage


containers for 6,701 photographs. One of the most pressing
preservation problems for the library is protecting heavily-used
material which must be used in the original. The Sanborn Fire
Insurance maps of over 100 Montana towns and cities present such a
case , and much of what time the library could spend on
preservation was given to encapsulating the 150 or so map sheets
in the Sanborn series for Helena. In all, 345 library items
received some treatment.

Oral History Office

From its inception in 1981 , the oral history office has been
funded by biennial grants from the state through the Cultural and
Aesthetic Projects funds. It is now on its final grant award, and

will be discontinued in this format after FY93 • During its
operation, the office has proven itself an effective stimulus for
oral history projects all around the state, and has lent the
technical expertise of its experienced oral historian, through

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Online LibraryMontana Historical SocietyMontana Historical Society report to the ... Legislature and the state of Montana (Volume 1992) → online text (page 1 of 3)