Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Montana: Stories of the Land

Companion Website and Online Teacher's Guide

Chapter 22 - Living in a New Montana, 1970-2007

Learning From Historical Documents

Hank Deschenes, of Missoula, testimony on House Bill #319, 1975. Montana Legislature (44th: 1975) records, 1975. Legislative Records 44. [box 4 folder 8] and Charles Bradley of Bozeman, testimony on House Bill #319, 1974. Montana Legislature (43rd: 1973-1974) records, 1973-1974. Legislative Records 43. [box 12 folder 10]. Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 278-80.

Context for Testimony Regarding a Moratorium on Subdividing Agricultural Land:

Montana infatuated visitor and native alike. To escape urban crowding, residents and nonresidents looked to the vacant mountainsides and valleys for sites to build residences or cabins, "a place in the country." Particularly in growing, valley-bound communities like Missoula and Bozeman, conditions were right for subdivision growth. As investors purchased land for development, agriculture in the fertile valleys suffered in consequence. In both 1974 and 1975 legislators considered a moratorium on subdividing agricultural land. Hank Deschenes and Charles Bradley testified at hearings, representing the opposing views and emotional values involved. Today, Montanans continue to struggle with the issues raised here.

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.

Eva Boyd
Eva Boyd, basket maker, photo by Alexandra Swaney, courtesy Montana Arts Council
Vermiculite Miner
Vermiculite Zonolite Company (W. R. Grace) employee, Libby, photo by Bill Browning, Helena, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 2002-62.I2B-10865