Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Archival Collections


Our Archival Collections include manuscript collections, government records, and oral histories.

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Manuscript Collections

Manuscript means “written by hand,” but in the case of manuscript collections it is a mix of unpublished materials that can include diaries, letters, typescripts, scrapbooks, news clippings, and financial records. Our manuscript collections record and capture history as it happened in Montana. Search our Finding Aids to find detailed inventories of our archival and manuscript collections.

Government Records

Since 1865, the Montana Historical Society served as the unofficial archives of Montana state government, and it has functioned as the official Montana State Archives since 1969. We collect, preserve, and provide access to inactive, historically significant state records. In addition to the records of executive branch agencies and elected officials, including the Governor’s Office, the Archives holds records of legislative sessions and the judicial branch. We also house a limited number of local government records. Explore our Finding Aids for more details about our Government Records collections.

Oral Histories

Oral histories capture recollections of time as it was lived by individuals, adding a personal dimension to the historical record. We've been collecting first-hand recollections since the 1880s. Oral history projects of note include: Montanans at Work, Montana War Brides, Reflections on the Forgotten War/Korean War Oral History, Metals Manufacturing in Four Montana Communities, and the New Deal in Montana/Fort Peck Dam. The more than 2,300 oral histories in our collection cover a wide range of historical topics and give voice to Montana’s memory. Find our oral histories by searching the catalog. Many of our oral histories are also accessible via the Montana History Portal.


Please note that a few of our archival collections are stored at an offsite storage facility.  These collections require 48 hours’ notice to retrieve.


Letter. Pierre Menard to Pierre Chouteau, 1810 Apr 21, MC004-B1-F1 Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company Records.
Letter. Pierre Menard to Pierre Chouteau, 1810 Apr 21, MC004-B1-F1 Pierre Chouteau, Jr. and Company Records.