Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 12 - Logging in the "High Lonesome," 1862-1949

Learning From Historical Documents

Letter from Wade Parks to Gov. S. V. Stewart, 1917. Montana Governor's records, 1889-1962. Manuscript Collection 35. [box 240 folder 4]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 251-52.

Context for Wade Parks's Letter:

Labor strife in the timber industry during the summer of 1917 created bitterness on both sides of the issue. Patriotism during World War I translated into an opposition to strikes and militant unionism, promoting accusations of treason and obstructionism from lumber owners when workers tried to organize. In response to a timber industry strike led by the Industrial Workers of the World (known as the IWW or Wobblies), Montana's governor called out the militia to preserve the peace and allow lumbering operations to proceed. Depending upon the interests involved, two views of the roles and methods of the Wobblies existed, and Governor Stewart received letters expressing both. In his mailbag was this letter from IWW supporter, Sanders County attorney Wade Parks, but he also received mail from IWW opponents, including these letters from F. D. Becker, Secretary of the Montana Lumber Manufacturer's Association.

About Primary Sources:

Letters, diary entries, census records, newspapers, and photographs are all examples of "primary sources," material created at a particular moment in the past that has survived into the present. Primary sources can provide clues to the past. They are our windows into an earlier time. The Montana Historical Society contains thousands of primary sources. In the 1970s, archivists collected just a few snippets into a book, which they called Not in Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana. That book is now on the web in its entirety. The above sample from that book relates directly to this chapter.

Strike notice
Strike bulletin, courtesy Mark Johnston, Eureka, MT
Steamboat Helena
Steamboat Helena, photo by W. E. Hook, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives