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.
September Public Programs
Wednesday, September 20, 10:45 AM. Join Missoula author Eric Olson in a presentation on the fourth and final installment of his books on Montana courthouses. In Courting Law: Montana Courthouse Tales Vol. 4 Olson treats readers to a midnight poker game in Sweet Grass County's Grand Hotel and a chess match between two legendary courtroom adversaries in a Broadwater County saloon. He also invites readers to climb aboard the ghostly Jawbone Railroad to hear tales from Wheatland County, travel to an old theater, to local museums, and to the courthouses themselves, to hear the truth as only the ghosts themselves can tell it. Part travelogue, part cultural commentary, part primer on the American legal system, like the other books in the series Courting Law is much more than a just a historical chronicle. It's what justice looks like at the grassroots level. And just as he did before, Olson proves yet again that, when it comes to the history of Justice in Montana, the ghosts have the last word on the truth.
Montana History Conference at the Great Northern Hotel, September 21-23
Thursday, September 21, 6:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M., Montana State Capitol—Old Supreme Court Chambers (location pending; free and open to the public as well as history conference goers). Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917. World War I-era Butte was a volatile jumble of antiwar protest, seething labor unrest, and divisive ethnic tension. Against that explosive backdrop, the worst hard-rock mining disaster in American history began a half hour before midnight on June 8, 1917, when fire broke out in the North Butte Mining Company's Granite Mountain shaft. Join Michael Punke as he recounts the tragic tale, and heroic actions, of the miners who fought to survive. Punke is author of Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917; Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West; and The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge. Now a resident of Missoula, Punke is also former United States Ambassador to the World Trade Organization.
Thursday, September 21, 7:00 P.M.–8:30 P.M. Montana Historical Society, Corner of Sixth Avenue and Roberts Street (requires a ticket). Opening Reception Following Michael Punke’s presentation, venture across the street to the Montana Historical Society to examine two new exhibits: Big Game, Big Stories: Montana's Hunting Heritage and Hooked: Fishing in Montana. Enjoy the Continental Divide Tuba Society in a salute to the music of World War I, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and a no-host bar while you visit with fellow history enthusiasts.
Thursday, September 28, 6:30 p.m. Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family, presentation and book signing by author Jane Little Botkin. Franklin Henry Little (1878–1917), an organizer for the Western Federation of Miners and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), fought in some of the early twentieth century’s most contentious labor and free-speech struggles. Following his lynching in Butte, Montana, his life and legacy became shrouded in tragedy and family secrets. In Frank Little and the IWW, author Jane Little Botkin chronicles her great-granduncle’s fascinating life and reveals its connections to the history of American labor and the first Red Scare. Having scoured the West for firsthand sources in family, library, and museum collections, Botkin melds the personal narrative of an American family with the story of the labor movements that once shook the nation to its core. In doing so, she throws into sharp relief the lingering consequences of political repression.
Sign up to learn about upcoming programs.