Guide to Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees records
1865-2006

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Montana Historical Society. Board of Trustees.
Title: Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees records,
Dates: 1865-2006 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 7 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number: MHS 1
Summary: The Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees is the governing board of the Society. Records includes correspondence with Society directors, files of individual board members, minutes, organizational records, reports, and miscellany.
Repository: Montana Historical Society Research Center
Archives

225 N. Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT 59620-1201
(406) 444-2681
mhslibrary@mt.gov

Languages: English 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical Note

On December 21, 1864 Francis M. Thompson introduced into the Territorial legislature, Council Bill 15 to incorporate the Historical Society of Montana, as a private organization. The purpose of the Society was “…to collect and arrange facts in regard to the early history of this Territory…." The bill was signed into law on February 2, 1865. The Society held its first organizational meeting later that month. Among the incorporators were Granville Stuart, H. L. Hosmer, C. P. Higgins, John Owens, and W. F. Sanders. The Society membership was limited to a few prominent Montana pioneers, who had to be elected by unanimous election by the members.

The Society began collecting reminiscences and other memorabilia of the early pioneers. Tragically, these collections burned in the disastrous 1874 fire in downtown Helena. Immediately after the fire, the Society contacted many of the original pioneers and obtained replacement reminiscences, diaries, and letters. They also began the intensive collection of the territory’s newspapers, publications of government expeditions, artifacts, and other items of interest. The collections were housed in the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse from 1886 until the completion of the new Capitol building in 1902.

The early history of the Society was one of a gradual increase in government involvement. In 1873 the legislature appropriated $150 to buy additional manuscripts and books. By 1887 the Territory was paying rent for housing the library and the salary of the librarian. In 1891 the collections were officially transferred to State control. And two years later the Governor was given the authority to appoint the Board of Trustees. In 1895 the legislature changed the name to “The Historical and Miscellaneous Library”. This name was retained until the 1923 legislature restored the original name. Finally in 1963 the name was changed to its present Montana Historical Society.

A separate building for the Society was planned as early as the mid 1920s, but the Depression, World War II, and other factors delayed the building until 1953 when the Veterans and Pioneers Building was completed. In 1951 K. Ross Toole was hired as the first professional director. His major task was to plan for the new building, and the varied programs which it would enable. Among these programs were a formal museum, art galleries, the library, and a magazine.

The original Historical Society of Montana was governed by a five member Board of Trustees consisting of the President, the Recording Secretary, the Corresponding Secretary, the Treasurer, and the Librarian. Beginning 1891, when the state legislature established the Historical Society of Montana as a state agency, the Board of Trustees was appointed by the Governor. In 1949 the Board was expanded to 15 members. From the Board of Trustees, an Executive Board is chosen consisting of the President, Vice President, and three additional Board members.

During most of its existence, the Board has played a secondary role, leaving the active management of the Society to the paid staff. The functions of the Board consist of overall policy decisions, approval of all deeds, leases, and other legal documents executed by the Society, and other duties as set forth in current legislation.

Content Description

Records consist of miscellaneous correspondence (1874-1890, 1947); correspondence (1951-2006) with the Directors; files for individual Board members; minutes of the Board (1865-2003); organizational materials, including bylaws and the enabling act, lists of Board members, etc.; reports (1875-1920, 1934, 1955); and a subject file. There is a subgroup for records kept by long-time Board member Merrill Burlingame concerning the Society and his service on the Board.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

Collection is open for research

Restrictions on Use :  

The Montana Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any reproduction use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation :  

[item description and date]. Name of Collection. Collection Number. [box and folder number]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Helena, Montana.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Arranged by subgroups and series

Acquisition Information :  

Acquisition information available upon request.

Processing Note :  

Processed in 2006


Detailed Description of the Collection

Board of Trustees
Container(s)
Description
Dates
Interoffice Correspondence
Box/Folder
1 / 1 Miscellaneous 1874-1890
1 / 2 Norman Winestine and J. B. Speer (re general membership, and preservation of records) 1947
1 / 3 Directors: K. Ross Toole 1951-1958
1 / 4 Directors: Michael S. Kennedy 1959-1966
1 / 5 Directors: Robert F. Morgan [interim director] 1966-1967
1 / 6-8 Directors: Sam Gilluly 1967-1974
1 / 9 Directors: Ken Korte 1974-1979
1 / 10 Directors: Robert Archibald 1979-1988
1 / 11 Directors: Robert M. Clark [interim director] 1989
1 / 12 Directors: Lawrence Sommer 1989-1992
1 / 13-15 Directors: Brian Cockhill 1992-1998
1 / 16 Directors: Sharon McCabe [interim director] 1999
1 / 17-20 Directors: Arnold Olsen 1999-2005
1 / 21 Directors: Mark Baumler [interim director] 2005-2006
1 / 22-25 Directors: [reserved for future directors] 2006-...
1 / 26 Board appointments 1951-2005
1 / 27 Trustees: A (includes Virginia Anderson) 1964-1970
1 / 28-29 Trustees: Casey E. Barthelmess 1958-1973
1 / 30 Trustees: B (includes Manson Bailey, James Beery, Jean Birch, Jean F. Bishop, Lena Bissonette, Ray O. Bjork, Charles Bovey, and John J. Burke; Merrill Burlingame files are in subgroup) 1951-2001
1 / 31-33 Trustees: Stuart Conner 1987-1993
1 / 34 Trustees: C (includes Lew L. Callaway) 1951
1 / 35 Trustees: D (includes Tony Dalich, Joseph S. Dent, Jessie T. Duthie) 1952-1978
1 / 36 Trustees: E-F (includes Jeannie Eder, Charmaine R. Fisher, Tom Foor, Stella Foote, Timothy C. Fox) 1970-2003
1 / 37 Trustees: G (includes Sam Gilluly, Newell Gough) 1951-1979
1 / 38 Trustees: H (includes Warren P. Hall, Ben Harwood, Jack Hayne, Josephine Hepner, Anne Hibbard, William Holt, Helen Hornby, Joseph Kinsey Howard) 1951-2000
2 / 1 Trustees: J-K (includes O'Neil Jones, Howard Johnson, Marjorie King) 1955-1996
2 / 2 Trustees: L (includes Lester H. Loble, Virginia Lucht) 1957-1998
2 / 3-6 Trustees: E. E. "Boo" MacGilvra 1954-1980
2 / 7 Trustees: William R. and Joyce Childs Mackay 1954-1999
2 / 8 Trustees: M (includes Marie MacDonald, Vicki McCarthy, Susan McDaniel, Joe Medicine Crow) 1957-2000
2 / 9 Trustees: O-P (includes George W. O'Connor, Albert J. Partoll, Loren Perry, Harold Poulsen) 1954-1994
2 / 10 Trustees: R (includes Joseph E. Reber, James W. Reger, Richard Roeder, Mel Ruder, Henry S. Ruegamer) 1967-1994
2 / 11 Trustees: Harold G. "Hal" Stearns 1954-1973, 1984-1991
2 / 12 Trustees: Branson G. Stevenson 1956-1974, 1989
2 / 13 Trustees: S (includes Ruby Settle, Ward Shanahan, Whitney Smith, Willis B. Spear, Randall Swanberg) 1954-1994
2 / 14 Trustees: T-V (includes Dee C. Taylor, Ronald W. Torstenson, James Vanderbeck) 1970-1990
2 / 15 Trustees: W (includes Wilbur Werner, Portia B. White, Norman Winestine) 1951-1990
2 / 16-19 Trustees: [reserved for future growth] 1951-2006
Minutes
Box/Folder
2 / 20 Minutes of meetings [scattered originals] (1873 meeting includes constitution) 1865-1894
2 / 21 Minutes of meetings [handwritten copies] (1885-1889 also includes annual reports to Governor) 1865-1894
2 / 22-25 Minutes of meetings 1895-1954
3 / 1-32 Minutes of meetings (after 1967 minutes generally include financial reports and program reports) 1955-1981
4 / 1-34 Minutes of meetings (generally include financial reports and program reports) 1982-1998
5 / 1-18 Minutes of meetings (generally include financial reports and program reports; after 2000 include full packets) 1999-2003
5 / 19- Minutes of meetings [reserved for future growth] (include full packets) 2004-?
6 / 1- Minutes of meetings [reserved for future growth] (include full packets) 2005- ?
Organizational Records
Box/Folder
7 / 1 Bylaws, enabling act 1865
7 / 2 Bylaws 1966
7 / 3 Honorary membership (includes certificates, applications for membership, etc.) 1873-1891
7 / 4 List of board meetings 1949-1969
7 / 5 Lists of board members and officers 1865-2002
Reports
Box/Folder
7 / 6 Annual and biennial reports to Governor 1875-1889
7 / 7 Biennial reports to Governor (include librarian's report to board) 1911-1920, 1934
7 / 8 "A compendium of reports to the Board of Trustees...covering the principal activities of the past five years," by K. Ross Toole 1956
7 / 9 Report to the Board by Wilbur Fisk Sanders ca. 1870
Subject Files
Box/Folder
7 / 10 Director selection and evaluation 1974, 1995-1999
7 / 11 Executive Committee 1973-1997
7 / 12 Fundraising Committee 1983-1985
7 / 13-27 Michael S. Kennedy controversy and firing (includes Merrill Burlingame's file, chronology, article copyright issue, copies of Board minutes re controversy, attorney A. L. Libra, report by Robert F. Morgan, Kennedy's lawsuit against Board, clippings) 1965-1966
7 / 28 Legislation: House Resolution in support of Society 1874
7 / 29 Legislation: SB 52 (re continuation of Board; SB 40 (re state publication distribution); HB 559 (re Towe Ford Collection) 1983-1985
7 / 30 Long-Range Planning Committee 1991-1994
7 / 31-32 Meeting planning 2002-2003
7 / 33 Montana Historical Society Advisory Committee [proposed] 1989
7 / 34 Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award 1990-1998
7 / 35 Past trustees luncheon 1995
7 / 36 Photo gallery of past Presidents (re placing of photos in conference room) 1989-1995
7 / 37-41 Trustees Award 1978-2003
7 / 42-43 Trustees Educators Award 1978-2003
7 / 44 Trustees retreat 1985

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Trustee Merrill G. Burlingame
Container(s)
Description
Dates
General Correspondence
Box/Folder
8 / 1 K. Ross Toole, director 1951-1957
8 / 2-13 Montana Historical Society chronological 1951-1976
Subject Files
Box/Folder
8 / 14 American Revolution Bicentennial 1973-1974
8 / 15 Bylaws revision (includes Survey of bylaws and policy statements of other historical societies) 1949-1968
8 / 16 Historic Preservation Plan (draft), Montana Dept. of Fish and Game 1970
8 / 17 Historic sites, Montana Highway Dept., State Parks Division 1957-1960
8 / 18-21 Historic sites, Montana Dept. of Fish and Game 1968-1976
8 / 22 Historic sites, Montana Historical Society 1977-1978
8 / 23 Historic sites: proposed nominations 1976-1977
8 / 24-25 Montana State Historic Preservation Office 1978-1979
8 / 26 Montana Territorial Centennial Commission 1963-1964
8 / 27 Towe Ford Collection 1967-1975
Miscellany
Box/Folder
8 / 28 Certificate of appointment to Board 1949
8 / 29 Donation by Caroline McGill 1946
8 / 30 Montana history presentation by Brian Cockhill and Bob Gant 1973

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Subjects

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the Montana Historical Society Archives catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search under these terms.

  • Subject Terms :
  • Historical societies, etc.-- Montana.
  • Subject Terms :
  • Museums--Montana.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Montana--History.

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