Manuscript means “written by hand,” but in the case of manuscript collections it is a mix of unpublished materials that can include diaries, letters, typescripts, scrapbooks, news clippings, and financial records.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. To investigate our holdings by topic, visit the Subject Guides on the Montana History Compass, or search using the Search the Catalog button at right.
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. The Archives collects, preserves, and provides 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 State Archives holds records of legislative sessions and the judicial branch. We also house a limited number of local government records. To find specific government records, use the Search the Catalog button at right.
Oral histories capture recollections of time as it was lived by individuals, adding a personal dimension to the historical record. The Montana Historical Society has 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 the collection cover a wide range of historical topics and give voice to Montana’s memory. If you are interested in conducting an interview, we can lend you a digital recorder or transcription machine. Find the Equipment Loan form here.
Please note that a few of our archival collections are stored at an offsite storage facility. These collections require 48 hours’ notice to retrieve.