Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Museum and research center closed for renovations. For more info, call (406) 444-2694.

Photographic print of African-American children at Garfield School, Butte, 1897, MHS Research Center Photo Archives, #946-124

While the African-American population in Montana has consistently remained small throughout its history, black Montanans have participated in virtually every aspect of community life. For the most part, however, their stories have remained unheard. This is changing.

The resources collected as part of the Montana Historical Society’s Montana’s African American Heritage Resources Project provide a tremendous opportunity to explore the experiences of African American Montanans throughout history.

The project provides teachers and students easy access to primary and secondary source materials, which they can use to develop a better understanding of this important cultural group whose achievements and impact on Montana were greater than their small number.

Two Model Lesson Plans—one for fourth grade and one for eighth grade—suggest ways to approach the rich collections found on this website. In addition, the PowerPoint-based lesson plan, “Profiles of African American Montanans,” offers an introduction to some of Montana’s African American citizens. Find links to all of these lessons below.

Group photograph of children at post school, Ft. Keogh, 1891, MHS Research Center Photo Archives, #947-276

If you are a teacher and you use any of the material from the Montana’s African American Heritage Resources Project—from any part of the site—please tell us about your experience by contacting us at

Overcoming Prejudice (.pdf), a Model Lesson Plan for fourth through sixth grade, suggests one way you can use the material on this site in your elementary classroom.

Creation of a Community (.pdf), a Model Lesson Plan for seventh through ninth grade, suggests one way you can can use the material on this site in your middle school classroom. This lesson plan can also be adapted to high school.

Profiles of African American Montanans (.pdf) is a lesson plan and PowerPoint presentation to introduce students to some of the African Americans who contributed to Montana history.

Hidden Stories: Montana’s Black Past Appropriate for use in high school Montana and American history classes, this 57-minute movie traces Montana’s African American history from the Civil War to the present day. It foregrounds Montana’s pioneering Black residents and frames their experiences within the greater context of Montana history across space and time. The teaching guide divides the film into three parts and provides discussion questions for each segment.

This material is based upon work assisted by grants from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service and the Montana History Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior nor the Montana History Foundation.