Guide to the Washington J. McCormick, Jr. Papers

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: McCormick, Washington J. (Washington Jay), 1884-1949
Title: Washington J. McCormick, Jr., papers
Dates: 1932-1957 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 2 reels of microfilm and 0.5 linear feet
Collection Number: Mss 117
Summary: The collection consists of the short stories, correspondence, newsclippings, and the family genealogy of Washington J. McCormick, Jr. of Missoula, Montana.
Repository: University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Contact Information: Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Fax: 406-243-4067
Languages: Materials are in English 

Biographical Note

Washington J. McCormick, Jr. was born in Missoula, Montana in 1884. He became an influential attorney and politician. He attended public schools in Missoula, as well as the University of Montana. McCormick continued his education at Notre Dame and Harvard, and received his J.D. degree from Columbia University in New York City.

Washington McCormick, Jr. established his first law practice in Missoula, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life. His political ambitions took him to Helena, Montana, and Washington, D.C. for short periods. McCormick was in the Montana State Legislature from 1919 to 1921, followed by a term in the United States House of Representatives from 1921 to 1923. Besides working for the interests of his constituents, one of McCormick’s personal goals in Congress was the adoption of an official American language.

Later in life McCormick used his vast knowledge of Montana history to write short stories about the people, culture, and politics of the region. Some were published in local newspapers, but the majority were intended for only friends and family. A group of his short stories was published around 1980 under the title Colors From An Old Montana Sluice Box by the Friends of the University of Montana Library. Always interested in preserving local history, McCormick allowed his family ranch at Fort Owen (Stevensville, Montana) to become a state park. He also tried to move Fort Missoula’s records to the University of Montana for preservation after the base became inactive.

McCormick married Edna Fox in 1915 and they had three children, including Washington McCormick III who died in 1932. McCormick was later married to Cora Quast, who made efforts to publish his works posthumously. Washington McCormick, Jr. died on March 7, 1949 in Missoula at the age of 65.

Content Description

The collection contains documents from the last years of Washington McCormick, Jr.’s life. The majority consists of his short stories. A few were published in newspapers, but many of these were simply read aloud at family gatherings. Also included in the collection are several pieces of correspondence between McCormick and his friends, newspaper clippings and an essay about the McCormick family genealogy.

The paper materials include the short stories published as Colors from an Old Sluice Box and filmed on microfilm as well as a few other stories, poems and a few factual stories about the Bitterroot and Flathead areas of Montana.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana--Missoula.

Restrictions on Use :  

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes. Copyright status unknown.

Preferred Citation :  

[Name of document or photograph number], Washington J. McCormick, Jr. Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana--Missoula.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

The collection is arranged in five series. The majority of the collection is on microfilm; paper materials are part of the second series:

Series I: Correspondence, circa 1940-1948

Series II: Speeches and Writings, circa 1940-1948

Series III: Newspaper Clippings, 1932-1957

Series IV: Miscellaneous, circa 1949

Series V: Biographical, undated

Custodial History :  

Custodial history is unknown.

Acquisition Information :  

Original materials loaned by Camilla McCormick for microfilming, circa 1976. Donor and dates of donation of original (paper) materials are unknown.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I:  Correspondence, Circa 1940-1948

These microfilm frames include three pieces of correspondence between McCormick and friends pertaining to his writings. Two of the three are letters requesting copies of specific stories.

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Series II:  Speeches and Writings, Circa 1940-1948

The microfilm part of this series consists of sixteen short stories written by Washington McCormick, Jr. The last seven of these are grouped together under the title Colors from an Old Sluice Box.

The original (paper) materials include the short stories published as Colors from an Old Sluice Box as well as other stories, poems and a few factual stories about the Bitterroot and Flathead areas of Montana. The original (paper) materials in this collection have been described (listed) at the folder level.

1/1 "Government by the People" undated
1/2 "In the Bag" undated
1/3 "Peter Mansolf" undated
1/4 "Colonel Sanders Salutes the Missourians" undated
1/5 "Back to the Woods" undated
1/6 "We Point with Pride" undated
1/7 "A Hot Afternoon in Montana" undated
1/8 "The Masquerade" undated
1/9 "A Sixty Mile Horserace on a Circular Track" undated
1/10 "'Bummer' Dan's Riposte" undated
1/11 "Up Against It" undated
1/12 "Pawns of Life" undated
1/13 "Simpy's Debut" undated
1/14 "Colors from an Old Montana Sluice Box" undated
1/15 Draft of "Colors from an Old Montana Sluice Box" with foreward by Arthur Deschamps circa 1980
1/16 "Colors from an Old Montana Sluice Box" undated
1/17 "Unhitched Wagon" undated
1/18 "Unhitched Wagon" and other stories undated
1/19 Collected poems undated
1/20 Short stories and poems undated
1/21 "Bitter Root Picnic" undated
1/22 "Historical Monuments of the Bitter Root Valley, Montana" undated
1/23 "The Bitter Root Valley" undated
1/24 Flathead Reservation undated
1/25 Fragments undated

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Series III:  Newspaper Clippings, 1932-1957

These microfilm frames include newspaper clippings that relate to Washington McCormick, Jr. One of these, published in 1957, discusses the transfer of McCormick’s Fort Owen ranch property to the State of Montana for preservation.

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Series IV:  Miscellaneous, 1949

These microfilm frames include several items that pertain to McCormick’s death. A register signed by all who attended his funeral is in the collection, as well as notes from the Montana Bar Association’s tribute. A limited amount of financial information is also included.

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Series V:  Biographical, undated

These microfilm frames include an essay by an unknown author about the history of the family name McCormick. It details the genealogy of the family for several centuries, and provides brief biographies for the family’s more noteworthy members.

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This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Personal papers--Montana--Missoula
  • Short stories
    • Occupations :
    • Authors, American--Montana--Missoula

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