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. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, April 6, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday Night at the Museum—What Can We Learn from World War I? What does it mean to be a “good American”? How are immigrants changing America? Do foreign nationals living in the United States pose a threat to our security or “way of life”? What should be the limits of free speech? These burning questions occupied Montanans, especially during 1917 and 1918 as thousands of Montana boys left the state to join the “the war to end all wars.” Exactly 100 years ago to the day after the United States entered World War I, Montana Historical Society staff members Senior Archivist Rich Aarstad and Historical Specialist Martha Kohl will lead the audience in an opportunity to reexamine these questions, informed by the history of Montana and the Great War.
Saturday, April 8, 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. 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.  At 1:30 p.m., Dr. Steven Helgerson—the Montana State Medical Officer from 2006 to 2015—will discuss and sign his new historic novella, A Country Doctor and the Epidemics, Montana 1917-1918.  A Country Doctor tells the story of a small-town physician and the people he serves during the turbulent years of World War I. The doctor struggles with the limitations of the medical science, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic and personal tragedy.
Thursday, April 13, 6:30 p.m.  
Thursday Night at the Museum—Doing our Bit: Montana’s Home Front During the Great WarIn 1918 Governor Sam Stewart wrote “The women of the West are certainly doing their share in bearing the burdens of the war, and we cannot be too eloquent in our praise of their efforts.” MHS Historic Interpreter Bobi Harris will provide an in-depth look at what these women—and children—were doing to merit such recognition. She will use posters, magazine articles, photographs, artifacts, and hands-on demonstrations to illustrate various activities that were engaged in by Montanans “doing their bit” in homes throughout our communities.
Wednesday, April 19, 10:45 a.m.   
Friends of MHS Public Program—Alcohol, Corsets, and the Vote: A Conversation with Mary Long Alderson Join suffragette, temperance worker, dress reformer, and journalist Mary Long Alderson (as portrayed by Livingston archivist Anne Foster) for a conversation. Chairwoman of the Montana Floral Emblem campaign, president of the Montana Christian Temperance Union, and a leader in the Montana Woman Suffrage Association, Mrs. Alderson is an eloquent and passionate speaker. Drawing from her own editorials and other writings, she explains the benefits of votes for women as well as the evils of drink and tight lacing.
Thursday, April 20, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday Night at the Museum—Starting with Huffman: Photographers of Montana's High Plains.  From the 1880s to the present day, photographers have been motivated to capture the elusive high plains under hot, cold, windy, dusty, muddy, and lonely conditions. Their photographs have inspired people both to fill the land as well as to preserve its emptiness. Starting with L.A. Huffman, Missoula artist and photographer Kristi Hager will show how each photographer used the sky and geology to celebrate a wide, open, and often inverted landscape.
Thursday, April 27, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday Night at the Museum—George Catlin: First Artist Up the Missouri River.In this illustrated lecture Missoula photographer Lee Silliman will illuminate the life of the first Euro-American artist to ascend the Missouri River as far as Fort Union, Montana.  In the 1830s Catlin dedicated his energies to fixing on canvas the lifeways and portraits of the “vanishing races” who resided on the Northern Plains.  The evolution of his ideals, as Catlin struggled to convince his fellow countrymen and Europeans that Native American culture was worth honoring and protecting, is a poignant story of triumph and failure. 

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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