World War I Archival Collections

The Montana Historical Society Research Center is rich in material about Montanans' experiences during World War I, both on the home front and overseas. We welcome researchers to visit the reference room or, for those who can't make it to Helena, to submit a reference request. Here are some of our significant collections relating to World War I.  

American Legion, Gallatin Post No. 14, MF 152, Reel 1. Gallatin County Service Records, 1918-1965, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

The Gallatin County Veterans Service Records consist of microfilm containing the names, serial numbers, dates of service, and other pertinent information for men and women who joined the various branches of the U.S. military from 1898 through 1965.

Anderson, Orville L. , SC 289. The Orville L. Anderson Diary, 1917-1918, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT. 

Orville Anderson was a World War I Montana infantry officer killed in the battle of the Aisne-Marne, France; his diary details his experiences in the military, from his call-up to just prior to his death.

Brickett, Leah Stewart, interview by Laurie Mercier, March 18, 1987, Helena, MT, for the General Montana History Collection, OH 1669, Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (40 minutes).

In this interview, Brickett (the youngest daughter of Governor Samuel Stewart, who was in office during WWI) discusses her childhood in the Governor’s Mansion; she reflects on the patriotic songs of the war, anti-German sentiment, and the coal shortage during the war, among other topics.

Christiansen, Emil, interview by Phil Curry, December 12, 1987, Fort Harrison, MT, for the 20th Century Montana Military Veteran’s Oral History Project, OH 1200, Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (40 minutes) and summary.

In this interview, Christiansen discusses his time serving as a medic in France, including working with soldiers who had been gassed, as well as his experiences guarding German prisoners of war.

Clydesdale Family, SC 2247. Clydesdale Family Papers, 1909-1991, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection contains biographical material about Bertha and Thomas Clydesdale, including their correspondence during WWI.

Eastern Montana Military Veterans, SC 2292. Eastern Montana Military Veterans Records, 1918-1945, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection contains discharge papers for WWI and WWII veterans from Dawson County and the surrounding area.

Erickson, Grace Vance , MC 286 , Box 3. The Grace Van Erickson Papers, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

Box 3 of this collection includes a scrapbook documenting to the former first lady of Montana’s involvement with the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense.

Gosman, George M., interview by Jeff Safford, November 12, 1979 and February 27, 1980, Missoula, MT, for the Montana General History Collection, OH 121, Montana Historical Society Archives. Audio tapes and 50-page transcript.

In this interview, Gosman discusses his experiences training  prior to deployment  and serving in France. 

Gustafson, William Henry, interview by Laurie Mercier, March 10, 1983, Anaconda, MT, for the Montanans at Work Oral History Project, OH 476, Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (3 hours, 10 minutes) 6-page summary.

Gustafson discusses his experiences serving abroad, including the high casualty rates in his company. He also discusses labor relations in Montana during the years shortly after the war, including the Industrial Workers of the World and the rustling card system.

Guthrie Family, SC 2522. Guthrie Family Papers, 1904-1922, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

The Guthrie family were Virginia natives who lived for a time in Geyser and Great Falls, Montana. Several members of the family served in World War I. Collection consists of letters from Claud W., John R., Kent F., and Wyatt D. Guthrie to their sister Katherine L. Guthrie, during World War I.

Humphry, Mabel MC 386.  Mabel Humphry Papers, 1909-2004, Montana Historical Society, Helena , MT.

Of special interest are letters written to Mabel by Charles W. James and Percy Calkins while serving abroad during World War I.

Jones Family, SC 1240. William D. and Kyle Jones Family Papers, 1887-1958, Montana Historical Society. Helena, MT.

This collection predominantly consists of Kyle Jones’ letters, including those written while he was attending Montana State College and during WWI.

King, Elmer, interview by Julie Foster, September 2, 1982, Columbus, MT, for the Montanans at Work Oral History Project, OH 368, Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (50 minutes) and summary.

In this interview, King discusses the effects the Spanish flu and the 1917-1919 drought had on Red Lodge.

McAnnally, Minda P Brownell, interview by Laurie Mercier, April 24, 1983, Glendive, MT, for the Montanans at Work Oral History Project, OH 528, Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hour, 40 minutes) and summary.

In this interview, McAnnally, who worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad during the war, discusses the IWW, troop train movement, and the Spanish flu outbreak in Miles City.

McCalman, James C., SC 2333. James C. McCalman papers, 1892-1922, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection contains a letter from James’ brother Duncan McCalman about his service as an army surgeon in France during World War I.

Montana Adjutant General’s Office, RS 222. Montana Historical Society, Helena, MT.

This collection contains registration cards for Montana 1889-1959. This collection has registration cards for both WWI and WWII, but also general Correspondence (1913-1959); Legal Documents (1915-1958); Reports (1916-1940); Subject Files (1939-1950); and Military Personnel Records (1889-1946).  

Montana Council of Defense, RS 19 (17:6-6). The Montana Council of Defense Records, 1916-1921, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

The Montana Council of Defense was established during World War I to coordinate county war efforts. It also investigated cases of alleged disloyal activities. Records (1916-1921) include minutes, correspondence, subject files, testimony and exhibits for hearings and special investigations, membership lists, and correspondence of various county councils of defense.

Montana Military Enlistments, WWI, RS 223. Montana Adjutant General's Office Records 1889-1959, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

The bulk of this collection consists of WWI army enlistments, organized into groups by surname. The collection also includes marines, marine officers, and nurses, as well as dishonorable discharges, fraudulent enlistments, and enemy aliens. You can also access these documents online at http://mtmemory.org/cdm/search/collection/p16013coll36

Montana Veterans’ Welfare Commission, Call # S 353.538 V64A 1920. Report of the Veterans' Welfare Commission of the State of Montana from the time of its appointment until close of business November 30th, 1920, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

The Veterans’ Welfare Commission was formed after WWI to advocate for disabled Montana   veterans. This collection includes the Commission’s correspondence and various documents.

Montana vs. Dunne, MF 165. Montana vs. Dunne Records, 1919, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

Records consist of court papers, including a transcript, from Dunne's appeal of his conviction for sedition as publisher-editor of the Butte Bulletin during the Butte Miners’ strike during WWI.

Montana Veteran’s Home, RS 394 (34:8-1) and RS 394 Volume (121.1-2). The Montana Veterans’ Home Records, 1897-1995, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes correspondence, financial documents, and members records—including those of WWI veterans.

Richardson, Robert Burns, interview by Harriet Meloy and Clark Pyfer, May 14, 1987, Helena, MT, for the Helena Business History Oral History Project, OH 1184, Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (1 hour, 20 minutes) 3-page summary.

In this interview, Richardson discusses his service as a sniper for the Marine Corps in France.

Scott, William D., MC 323, box 1, folders 1 and 2. Christmas G. Evans Family Papers, 1853-1977, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This folder includes biographical information about William D. Scot and letters written from Scott to his parents while he served in the war.    

Siegrist, Inez M.,  interview by Joyce G. Decker, July 26, 1983, Polson, MT, for the General Montana History Collection, OH 1520, Montana Historical Society Archives, Helena, MT. 2 audio tapes (1 hour, 40 minutes) and a 4-page summary.

In this interview, Siegrist discusses the Montana homefront during WWI, including the role of women’s role in the workforce during the war. 

Slayton, Daniel E., to Daniel Webster and Lizzie Ellis Slayton, MC 178, box 1, folder 7. Daniel Webster and Lizzie Ellis Slayton Papers, 1883-1934, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes letters from Daniel Slayton to his parents about his military service in the U.S. and France.

Stewart, Samuel V., Call # S 352.238 G1GM 1913-1921. Messages and state papers of Governor S.V. Stewart of Montana, 1913-1920, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes correspondence from Stewart’s time as governor during the war. Letters from constituents to Stewart about the war and veterans’ issues are included. 

Stock, Roland Henry, SC 2420. The Roland Henry Stock Reminiscence, 1970, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

A portion of this collection describes Stock’s service during World War I in the Army Engineer Corps.

Thompson Family, SC 1019. John Bernard Thompson Family Correspondence, 1917-1941, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes letters detailing John Bernard Thompson’s life in training camp, as well as a letter to his mother from the War Department informing her that her son had been wounded.

Toole Family, SC 859. The Toole Family Papers, 1883-1919, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes correspondence between Governor Joseph Toole and his son, who was wounded while serving as an officer overseas.

 Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A. Department of Montana Records, 1956-1985,  (12:7-5).     

These records (1956-1981) of the Montana Veterans of World War I and its women's auxiliary organization consist of minutes, correspondence, financial records, convention programs, subject files, membership lists, and general orders.

Whitcomb Family, MC 407, box 4, folders 2, 10, 13. Whitcomb Family Papers, 1887-1973, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes biographical material and correspondence from George Whitcomb, who served as a machine gunner in WWI.

Wilke, Bert, interview by Laurie Mercier, August 26, 1983, Fortine, MT, for the Montanans at Work Oral History Project, OH 662, Montana Historical Society Archives. 4 audio tapes (3 hours, 10 minutes) and a 7-page summary.

In this interview, Wilke discusses the Montana homefront during WWI, including the IWW, the War Bond Committee, and the anti-German sentiment.

Witti, Joseph, SC 2462. Joseph Witti Papers, 1910-1930, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection consists of fifty postcards written in German to Joseph Witti from various relatives in Germany after he immigrated to the United States.

Women in Military Service for America Foundation, MC 343, box 6, folder 3. Women in Military Service for America Foundation Records, 1990-1996, Montana Historical Society Archives. Helena, MT.

This collection includes discharge information and other records of the Montanan women who served in WWI.


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