Celebrate Montana history with us! Your interest and love of Montana’s past energizes our work. With your help, more real stories of the past can be shared and more history is preserved for future generations. We invite you to enjoy, engage, explore, know, visit, and preserve Montana history by joining and supporting the Montana Historical Society.
Upcoming Films and Events
Saturday, October 12, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Second Saturday at MHS
Sponsored by Intrepid Credit Union, Second Saturday at MHS 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.
Saturday, October 12, 1:30 p.m.
Presentation and book signing with Brenda Wahler, author of the recently released book, Montana Horse Racing: A History. For centuries, on prairie grasslands, dusty streets and racing ovals, everyday Montanans participated in the sport of kings. More than a century after horses arrived in the region, Lewis and Clark's Nez Perce guides staged horse races at Traveler's Rest in 1806. In response to hazardous street races, the Montana legislature granted communities authority to ban "immoderate riding or driving." Helena led the way to respectable racing, with Madam Coady's fashion course hosting the first territorial fair in 1868. Soon, leading citizens like Marcus Daly built oval tracks and glitzy grandstands. By 1890, a horse named Bob Wade set a world record for a quarter mile in Butte, a mark that stood until 1958. Horsewoman and historian Brenda Wahler highlights the Big Sky's patrons of the turf and courageous equine champions, including Kentucky Derby winner Spokane.
Wednesday, October 16, 10:45 a.m.
Henry Plummer—From California To Montana And His Wrongful Assassination in Bannack.
Henry Plummer is most commonly known as the "Outlaw Sheriff of Bannack." Testimonials of vigilantes and pro-vigilantes regarding Plumer have been accepted as historical fact and undisputed for decades. Great Falls historian Cheryl Wagner-Malecha will present a different scenario of the events that occurred in Bannack during 1863 and 1864, including a possible political conspiracy that led to the sheriff's lynching. Wagner-Malecha will offer an intriguing twist to the fascinating story of Henry Plummer, providing attendees with the opportunity to rethink history by questioning who the criminal masterminds of Bannack really were.
Thursday, October 24, 6:30 p.m.
Presentation and book signing with Michael Johnson, author of the recently released book, Can’t Stand Still: Taylor Gordon and the Harlem Renaissance. Born in 1893 into the only African American family in White Sulphur Springs, Montana, Emmanuel Taylor Gordon (1893–1971) became an internationally famous singer in the 1920s at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. With his musical partner, J. Rosamond Johnson, Gordon was a crucially important figure in popularizing African American spirituals as an art form, giving many listeners their first experience of black spirituals. Despite his fame, Taylor Gordon has been all but forgotten, until now. Michael K. Johnson illuminates Gordon’s personal history and his cultural importance to the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, arguing that during the height of his celebrity, Gordon was one of the most significant African American male vocalists of his era. Gordon’s story—working in the White Sulphur Springs brothels as an errand boy, traveling the country in John Ringling’s private railway car, performing on vaudeville stages from New York to Vancouver to Los Angeles, performing for royalty in England, becoming a celebrated author with a best-selling 1929 autobiography, and his long bout of mental illness—adds depth to the history of the Harlem Renaissance and makes him one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century.
Friday, October 25 at 12 PM
Join editor Rachel Potter as she shares stories of botany and history from Montana's Pioneer Botanists, a book she co-edited with Peter Lesica for the Montana Native Plant Society. Montana is a large state with diverse vegetation from Great Plains prairie and deciduous forest in the east, to northern coniferous forest and alpine tundra in the west. Discovering the botanical secrets of this spectacular landscape began with indigenous peoples and continued through the 20th Century with early explorers, geographers and entrepreneurs followed by teachers, scientists and curious and dedicated lay persons. Montana’s Pioneer Botanists brings together more than thirty biographies of these diverse people and traces the growth of botanical knowledge in this wild and beautiful state. Potter formerly worked—and now plays in Glacier National Park—where the plants and landscape have captivated her for over four decades. This program is being offered as part of the Lewis and Clark Library’s Big Read program: https://www.lclibrary.org/306/The-Big-Read.
Tuesday, October 29, 12:00 noon
Lab Girl book discussion. Come discuss the Lewis and Clark Library’s NEA Big Read selection, Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren. Led by library staff will lead attendees in an exploration of the book’s themes, settings, timeline, and characters. For more information on the Big Read visit: https://www.lclibrary.org/306/The-Big-Read. Brown bag lunches welcome.
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