Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 20 - Building a New Montana, 1945-1965

Learning From Historical Documents

Robert E. Miller, Duane Bowler, and Albert Gaskill Reminiscences about Working on Anaconda Company-owned Newspapers, in Don Anderson writing, 1959. Small Collection 1211 . Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 217-19.

Context for the Journalists' Reminiscences:

"A new age in Montana journalism began June 1, 1959," was the view of Montana Standard editor Bert Gaskill. That year, Lee Newspapers, a Midwestern chain headquartered in Iowa, purchased seven daily and two weekly Montana newspapers from the Fairmont Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anaconda Company. The Anaconda Company's interest in controlling the press had its roots in the war of the copper kings. Ultimately, its papers accounted for over half of Montana's circulation. As Anaconda's economic interest in Montana diminished and other media rose to challenge print, owning the newspapers became less politically useful, and Anaconda decided to sell. Years later, Don Anderson, who helped broker the sale, asked several longtime Montana newspaper men to describe what working as a journalist was like in the era of Anaconda Company control.

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.

Family arriving at relocation office
Family arriving at Relocation Office, BIA, courtesy NARA, Washington D.C.
Minuteman missile construction
Minuteman Missile construction, 1961, photo by US Air Force, Malmstrom Air Force Base Photo Lab, Great Falls, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 84-91