Montana Historical Society

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 19 - World War II in Montana

Learning From Historical Documents

Letter from Howard Toole to Governor Sam Ford, from Missoula, 1942. Montana Governors records, 1889-1962. Manuscript Collection 35. [box 107 folder 4]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 203.

Context for Howard Toole's Letter:

Embarrassed by their behavior during World War I, Montana exhibited little animosity toward the resident German population during the Second World War. The Japanese, a more readily identifiable minority, were another matter. Fearful that Japanese Americans might help the Japanese military in case of an invasion of the United States, the federal government evacuated all people of Japanese descent from the West Coast to more isolated areas. Montana, whose colleges, CCC camps, and military posts were slated to receive many evacuees, reacted sharply - particularly to the idea that Japanese Americans might be allowed to attend the university, taking the places of young men fighting overseas.

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.

Poster, Montana Historical Society Museum 90.11.21
163rd going ashore at wakde island
163rd going ashore at Wakde Island, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 85-75