Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Quarantine Activities

No matter what is happening in the world today, history has important lessons to teach us. Here are some ways for you and your family to connect with Montana’s past:

Curious about earlier pandemics?

Read “ ‘No More War, No More Plague’: The Spanish Influenza Pandemic Toll on Montana” by Todd S. Harwell, et al, in Montana The Magazine of Western History 68, no. 2 (2018): 27-44. Or listen to Harwell's presentation on the same topic at the 2018 Montana History Conference.

"Montanans and ‘The Most Peculiar Disease’: The Influenza Epidemic and Public Health, 1918-1919" by Pierce C. Mullen and Michael L. Nelson, in Montana The Magazine of Western History 37, no. 2 (1987): 50-61.

"Vaccine Production in the Bitterroot Valley during World War II: How Rocky Mountain Laboratory Protected American Forces from Yellow Fever" by Gary R. Hettrick, in Montana: The Magazine of Western History, 62, No. 4 (Winter 2012), pp. 47-59, 94-95.

Keep a diary or take our survey

Make a record of how COVID-19 is affecting you and your family. It will be important history some day! Keep your own personal diary or take our survey to share today's stories with future generations. Adults, click here: Montana Covid-19 Archive Survey. Students can take the survey too!

To check out an example of a diary from the past, read "A ‘Fluey’ Diary, 1918". Montana The Magazine of Western History 37, no. 2 (1987): 62-64.

No one was more conscientious about diary-keeping than pioneer Montana photographer and rancher Evelyn Cameron. Do you think you can give her a run for her money?

What's cooking?

Food is, and has always been, important to Montanans! The Historical Society—and its staff—are no exception. Learn more about our one-thousand-volume cookbook collection here. Or test your culinary skills with these historic recipes: Baking Bread with Evelyn Cameron; Where's the Jello?; Soups On!; Bread Pudding; Winter Ice Cream; Comfort Food; and Grandmother's Macaroni and Cheese.

"Making do" is a longstanding tradition among Montana cooks for a variety of reasons ranging from scarcity of ingredients to limitations of food preservation techniques. Learn more about "Hooverizing," growing your own, and other efforts to carry on during hard times.

And, check out these food history resources at the National Museum of American History.

Test your knowledge

Print and complete this crossword puzzle featuring Montana counties. (Need help? You can find the answers at the Montana Place Names website).

How well do you know the names of Montana’s towns? See if you can provide the answers to Montana town name riddles.

Read the signs! Explore Historic Montana! This website and app contain over 1,700 stories and photographs featuring the history and architecture of Montana’s National Register of Historic Places properties. Make it a scavenger hunt by finding answers to these questions (Give up? Find the answers here).

Take a twenty-minute video tour of the Original Governor’s Mansion, a historic house museum operated by the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Complete this scavenger hunt while taking a virtual Google tour, or print these five word searches to see if you can find all of the terms related to this historic residence.

Get creative—for kids of all ages!

Take us up on our #Coronavirus Quarantine Challenge. We're building on a great idea from the creative folks at the Getty Museum, who challenged folks to imitate art from their collection. MHS staff chose a few of our favorite artworks to join in the fun. We challenge you to recreate them with objects or people already in your home while practicing social distancing. Check out other people's creations--and be sure to take a photo of your effort, and share it on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Tag @MTHist so we can enjoy your creations too.

Download the Montana Preservation Alliance’s architectural styles coloring book for your kids. After they’ve completed the pictures, take a walk through your neighborhood too see if how many of these you can find.

We love Luci Creative’s guide to help children design their own museums at home! Check it out and learn how display your family’s own treasures. And, speaking of designers, you can read the “rambles of MHS’s own exhibit designer as she shares her thoughts relating to working in a museum during the pandemic.

Brands play an important role in Montana's history. Learn more, and design you own brand, here. Learn more about brands from the Montana Depart of Livestock.

Spend some quality time with Montana’s favorite son!

Take a tour of our Mackay Gallery of Russell Art with Nancy Cooper Russell, Charlie’s wife and business partner (as portrayed by Mary Jane Bradbury).

Read the Russell-illustrated, Blackfeet legend “How the Buffalo Lost His Crown” with your children.

Browse our online gallery of world-class Russell art. Which one is your favorite? Can you identify the most common themes in Russell’s work?

Take a virtual field trip

Pop some popcorn, then find your favorite historic Montana film footage

Browse the Montana Digital Vault for a variety of online exhibits featuring artifacts and documents from the Historical Society’s treasure trove of collections.

Gain strength by learning more about earlier tough times weathered by Montanans!

Explore the story maps in Montana and the Great War to see how World War I impacted life in the Treasure State. Or listen to sessions from the 2017 Montana History Conference which was devoted to Time of Trouble, Time of Change: Montana, 1917.

Discover whether you have any Montana relatives who served in World War II.

Read about the experiences of Montanans who fought in the Civil War.

Feel like you’re doing hard time? See if your relative served time in the Montana State Prison.

American Red Cross volunteers making flu masks, ca. 1918
Evelyn Cameron’s 1906 Diary
How the Buffalo Lost His Crown
Pat Blinn Papers