Public Programs

The Montana Historical Society hosts regularly scheduled public programs on a wide variety of topics relating to the Treasure State’s history and culture. Most programs take place on Thursday evenings (excluding holidays and a summer break). The Friends of the Montana Historical Society sponsor public programs the third Wednesday of each month, September through May (excluding December), and an annual March Lecture Series in celebration of Women’s History Month. Every fall the Society holds its annual Montana History Conference. Exhibit openings, curator tours, and family programs also enliven the year.

Public Programs for February 2016


Thursday, February 4, 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. 

Presence of the Past Program Series—Four Pieces of Jade: Bridging Heaven and Earth. MHS Board of Trustees member Crystal Wong Shors will share stories of generations of Chinese Americans in Montana. Through a collection of remarkable photographs, newspaper archives, and accounts of exceptional Chinese women, she will reveal glimpses of the lives of Ruby Chinn Lee Wong—an early 20th century immigrant—and Helena’s Fabulous Lee Sisters—daughters of one of Helena’s earliest entrepreneurs—who were born at the turn of the twentieth century. Shors will offer recollections of her own life in Helena’s South and West Main area, as well as memories shared by her father’s generation. After Shors’ talk concludes, refreshments will be served in the lobby and, following this informal reception, MHS Interpretive Historian Dr. Ellen Baumler will lead a tour of the exhibit Our Forgotten Pioneers—The Chinese in Montana which she co-curated. Humanities Montana is co-sponsoring the evening’s events.


Thursday, February 11, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Presence of the Past Program Series—Cass Gilbert in Big Sky Country: His Designs for the Montana Club. Helena historian Patty Dean will share information gleaned while conducting research for her newly published monograph on Helena’s famed Montana Club. She will trace the way in which the clubhouse, designed by St. Paul/New York City architect Cass Gilbert, embodies the values of the esteemed organization and place it in the context of gentlemen's clubs ranging from London's St. James Square to uptown Butte. She will also give attendees a look at the members' original, short-lived home—once hailed as “the most sumptuous building ever erected in Montana”—that was built in 1893 and burned in 1903. Her new book was published by Drumlummon Institute on the occasion of the Club's 130th anniversary.


Saturday, February 13, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Second Saturday at MHS. Sponsored by the Helena Community Credit Union, Second Saturday features free admission all day long and drawings for door prizes. This month, bring your family to see our newest exhibit, From the Heart: Stan Lynde’s Comic Creations. Donate $100 to the Montana Historical Society’s Montana Heritage Center fund and you will receive a special edition print of John C. Ulberg’s print, Stan Lynde, courtesy of the artist. The print is limited to 250 signed and numbered copies. Free admission is also offered at the Original Governor’s Mansion, 304 N. Ewing, where tours begin on the hour at noon, 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.


Wednesday, February 17, 10:45 a.m. – 12:00 noon

Friends of the Montana Historical Society Public Program—Archives Trivia. Taking their cue from popular Pub Trivia Nights, the MHS Archive staff will host an Archives Trivia contest. Attendees will form teams and be quizzed on Montana History Trivia (with a focus on materials in our archival collections). Winners will get bragging rights and a “fabulous prize.” All participants will have a good time testing their Montana history chops!


Thursday, February 18, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 

Presence of the Past Program Series—Taming Big Sky Country: The History of Montana Transportation from Trails to Interstates. Cruising down Montana’s scenic highways, it’s easy to forget that traveling from here to there once was a genuine adventure. The state’s major routes evolved from ancient Native American trails into four-lane expressways in a little over a century. That story is one of difficult, groundbreaking, and sometimes poor engineering decisions, as well as a desire to make a journey faster, safer, and more comfortable. It all started in 1860, when John Mullan hacked a wagon road over the formidable Rocky Mountains to Fort Benton. It continued until the last section of interstate highway opened to traffic in 1988. Montana Department of Transportation historian Jon Axline charts a road trip through the colorful and inspiring history of trails, roads, and superhighways in Big Sky Country. Axline will be on hand to sign copies of his new book, which is serving as the basis of his talk.


Thursday, February 25, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Presence of the Past Program Series—Blood on the Marias: The Baker Massacre. On the morning of January 23, 1870, troops of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry attacked a Piegan Indian village on the Marias River, killing many more than the army’s count of 173, most of them women, children, and old men. Intended as a retaliation against Mountain Chief’s renegade band, the massacre sparked public outrage when news sources revealed that the battalion had attacked Heavy Runner’s innocent village—even after guides told its inebriated commander, Major Eugene Baker, he was on the wrong trail. In his new book—hot off the press from the University of Oklahoma—Bozeman author Paul R. Wylie explores the history of Euro-American involvement with the Piegans, beginning with the Hudson Bay Company in the 17th century and culminating in the tragic events on the Marias.




The Montana Historical Society's Research Center offers a variety of Programs on an ongoing basis. Contact them at

To arrange speakers for your group or organization, or other questions regarding public programs, contact Kirby Lambert at 406-444-4741 or

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