Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 21 - A People's Constitution, 1972

Learning From Historical Documents

Constitutional Convention Delegate Virginia Blend's Testimony before the Bill of Rights Committee, 1972. Montana Constitutional Convention records, 1971-1972 [box 2 folder 38]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 280.

Context for Virginia Blend's Testimony:

Montana's 1972 constitutional convention provided an opportunity to write a constitution that reflected contemporary realities, including the changing roles of women. The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was heavily debated nationally. Congress passed it in its 1972 session, but only thirty-five states ultimately ratified the amendment, three short of the thirty-eight required for it to become law. Meanwhile, in Montana, constitutional convention delegate Virginia Blend of Cascade County successfully campaigned to have the amendment codified in Montana's constitution and statutes.

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.

Man packing in to fish at Areo Lake
Packing in to fish at Areo Lake, MT, photo by Bill Browning, Helena, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 2002-62.P1A-385
Grasshopper Creek
Grasshopper Creek, photo by Rick Graetz, courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks