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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Montana and the Great War: Bringing It Home

World War I came at the height of the Progressive era, a time of intense ideological disagreement. What was the appropriate role of government in the economy? Were immigrants a threat to American culture? What was the proper relationship between individual freedom and the common good?

Given the debate over fundamental values, it is no wonder that, according to historian David Kennedy, “Americans went to war in 1917 not only against Germans in the fields of France but against each other at home.”

No where was this more true than in Montana. It is hard to overstate the significance of the U.S.'s entry into World War I--to the men who served (17 percent of Montana men ages 18 to 44), to their families, to Montana's German immigrant farmers, to Socialist Finnish and Irish nationalist miners, to syndicalist loggers, and to everyone living in Montana during the war and to all of those who came after.

Now, 100 years later, it's a good time to look back at this complicated past.


High school teachers: We invite you and your classes to help us unpack this past by examining the way the war affected people in your own communities and sharing your findings with us by participating in our project Montanans and the Great War.

This project offers high school students an opportunity to work as historians, engage with primary and secondary sources, add to our collective understanding, and share their findings with authentic audiences.  

To prepare teachers to engage their students in this work, we're offering a 1.5 day workshop, June 12-13, 2017 (OPI Renewal Units and travel scholarships will be available.)

Learn more about the workshop--and how to apply--here. The application deadline is April 15, 2017. Applicants will be notified on their acceptance by May 1, 2017. 

P.S. Elementary and middle school teachers: Stay tuned. We'll soon be announcing a summer workshop designed for you.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Writing Dialogue Poems to Compare Points of View

Tarr's Toolbox (one of my favorite blogs) had a post recently on writing dialogue poems to compare points of view.

He pointed to this poem, which, according to a lesson plan posted by the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, was written by working-class Chilean woman in 1973, shortly after Chile's socialist president, Salvador Allende, was overthrown. A US missionary translated the work and brought it with her when she was forced to leave Chile.

I'm copying the poem below--because it is only by reading it that it becomes clear how this works. As Russell Tarr explains, the format is great for comparing and contrasting "the perspectives of the same event or situation from the point of view of different parties involved. Students can read existing poems, or write their own, to examine the main controversies and viewpoints surrounding particular topics."

I can think of lots of Montana history topics that students could do this for. Can you? If you have your students write perspective poems, send me one of your favorites. I'd love to read it!

Here's the model, written about the 1973 Chilean coup:

I am a woman.
I am a woman.
I am a woman born of a woman whose man owned a factory.
I am a woman born of a woman whose man laboured in a factory.
I am a woman whose man wore silk suits, who constantly watched his weight.
I am a woman whose man wore tattered clothing, whose heart was constantly strangled by hunger.
I am a woman who watched two babies grow into beautiful children.
I am a woman who watched two babies die because there was no milk.
I am a woman who watched twins grow into popular college students with summers abroad.
I am a woman who watched three children grow, but with bellies stretched from no food.
But then there was a man;
But then there was a man;
And he talked about the peasants getting richer by my family getting poorer.
And he told me of days that would be better, and he made the days better.
We had to eat rice.
We had rice.
We had to eat beans!
We had beans.
My children were no longer given summer visas to Europe.
My children no longer cried themselves to sleep.
And I felt like a peasant.
And I felt like a woman.
A peasant with a dull, hard, unexciting life.
Like a woman with a life that sometimes allowed a song.
And I saw a man.
And I saw a man.
And together we began to plot with the hope of the return to freedom.
I saw his heart begin to beat with hope of freedom, at last.
Someday, the return to freedom.
Someday freedom.
And then,
But then,
One day,
One day,
There were planes overhead and guns firing close by.
There were planes overhead and guns firing in the distance.
I gathered my children and went home.
I gathered my children and ran.
And the guns moved farther and farther away.
But the guns moved closer and closer.
And then, they announced that freedom had been restored!
And then they came, young boys really.
They came into my home along with my man.
They came and found my man.
Those men whose money was almost gone --
They found all of the men whose lives were almost their own.
And we all had drinks to celebrate.
And they shot them all.
The most wonderful martinis.
They shot my man.
And then they asked us to dance.
And then they came for me.
Me.
For me, the woman.
And my sisters.
For my sisters.
And then they took us,
Men they took us,
They took us to dinner at a small, private club.
They stripped from us the dignity we had gained.
And they treated us to beef.
And then they raped us.
It was one course after another.
One after another they came after us.
We nearly burst we were so full.
Lunging, plunging - sisters bleeding, sisters dying.
It was magnificent to be free again!
It was hardly a relief to have survived.
The beans have almost disappeared now.
The beans have disappeared.
The rice - I've replaced it with chicken or steak.
The rice, I cannot find it.
And the parties continue night after night to make up for all the time wasted.
And my silent tears are joined once more by the midnight cries of my children.
And I feel like a woman again.

They say, I am a woman.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Montana's African American Heritage Resources

Our colleagues at the State Historic Preservation Office have done the state a great service with their new Montana's African American Heritage Resources website. This is a vast improvement on the earlier website and a wealth of information on Montana's African American history. I highly encourage you to spend some time browsing the "Story Maps" they created for the site, learning about Montana's African American military history, women's history, churches and newspapers, exploring maps of African American enclaves in seven Montana communities, oral histories, photographs, and artifacts, and much more.

To complement the new website, we overhauled two lesson plans originally created by Jacqueline K. Dace (now Director of Internal Affairs at the National Blues Museum in St. Louis) to encourage the exploration of African American history.

Overcoming Prejudice (.pdf) is a Model Lesson Plan for fourth-sixth grade. The three-five day lesson asks students to look at census data to draw conclusions about how job options changed for African Americans in Montana from 1870 through 1930 and then to research a particular African American Montanan or institution to create posters for a classroom exhibit.

Creation of a Community (.pdf) is a Model Lesson Plan for seventh-ninth grade (though it can also be adapted to high school). Using resources posted on the Montana's African American Heritage Resources website, the three-five day lesson plan asks students to research and construct answers to the following questions: 

  • What laws were enacted that were specifically directed to African Americans?
  • What evidence is there of African Americans creating community life?
  • What were some of the successes that African American Montanans experienced?
  • What were some of the difficulties that African American Montanans faced?
  • How did Montana's African American population change from 1910 to 1930?
Through these lessons, students will have the opportunity to learn more about an understudied population in Montana, work with primary and secondary sources, conduct and share research, and consider such essential questions as 


  • How (and why) did skin color affect social status? 
  • What difficulties are there in being the first? 
  • What might be some of the effects of someone breaking the color barrier? 
  • Why did African Americans organize their own institutions (e.g. churches, civic and social organizations, etc.)?
  • How did laws relating to race affect African Americans’ economic, political, and social opportunities?
I'm excited about the lessons and even more excited about the new website. I bet after spending a little time exploring the site, you'll come up with additional ways to use the information there in your classroom. When you do, let me know! We'd love to learn more about how our online resources are put to use.

P.S. Looking for national resources on African American history. Check out Glenn Wiebe's post

Monday, February 6, 2017

Teaching with Primary Sources the Topic of Feb. 13 Online Teaching Montana History PLC

The last session of our online PLC for Montana history teachers will focus on Teaching with Primary Sources. The meeting will convene Monday, February 13, from 4:00 to 4:30. To participate you'll need to register at the Teacher Learning Hub--a process that is quick, painless and free.*


If you plan to join us--or even if you hope to watch the recording at a latter date, please do the following: 
  • Before February 10, spend 5 minutes freewriting on our google doc, either about obstacles to teaching with primary sources and/or one effective way you use primary sources. 
  • Then, join us to talk about your experience on January 9 at 4:00.
*Here's how to create an account at the Learning Hub. 
1.      Fill out the New Account form with your details.
2.      An email will be immediately sent to your email address.
3.      Read your email, and click on the web link it contains.
4.      Your account will be confirmed and you will be logged in.
5.      Now, select the course you want to participate in.
6.      If you are prompted for an "enrollment key" - use the one that your teacher has given you. This 
          will "enroll" you in the course.
7.      You can now access the full course. From now on you will only need to enter your personal username and password (in the form on this page) to log in and access any course you have enrolled in.

After you have created your account, enroll in the Teaching Montana History Online PLC by going directly to the course.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Visit with Nancy Russell in the Russell Gallery on Your Spring Field Trip

NEW STUDENT AND GROUP ART TOUR AVAILABLE FOR LIMITED TIME!

For thirty years Nancy Cooper Russell served as the business manager for her husband, Montana's famed Cowboy Artist Charlie Russell.  Join Nancy (as portrayed by noted historical interpreter Mary Jane Bradbury) in a unique, living history tour of the Montana Historical Society’s Mackay Gallery of Russell Art. Nancy will share firsthand stories about her life with Charlie and the integral role she played in creating the remarkable legacy of Russell art that we still have today. Don’t miss this special opportunity! Appropriate for grades 1–12 and adults.

Days this tour is available:
March 13, 14, and 15
Week of March 20-24
March 30 and 31
Week of April 3-7
Week of April 10-14

Please call 406-444-3695 or 444-4789 to schedule your school or group tour.

More interested in history than art? Discover the other tours we offer (of the Museum, Capitol, and Original Governor's Mansion) here



No matter where you take your students, I hope you'll do the prep work to make their field trip experience truly meaningful. Here are some ideas on how to make field trips more than a fun day away from school.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Primary Source Sets from DPLA

It's not Montana history, but it is really cool. The Digital Public Library of America is now offering primary source sets

According to Glenn Wiebe at HistoryTech, "The sets were created and reviewed by teachers on the DPLA Education Advisory Committee and are ready-to-use for both middle and high school students and teachers. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide with discussion questions and ideas for classroom activities. Drawing online materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States, the sets use letters, photographs, posters, oral histories, video clips, sheet music, and more. Initial teacher and student feedback on the project has illustrated a variety of ways in which the sets can be used, from independent resource projects to classroom debates and close reading of individual sources." 

Topics are wide ranging, including everything from the Wounded Knee Massacre to American Indian Boarding Schools to Mexican Labor and World War II. Middle and high school teachers: let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dave Walter Research Fellowship

Have you ever wanted to delve more deeply into research? This may be your chance!

The Dave Walter Research Fellowship will be awarded to two Montana residents involved in public history projects focused on exploring local history. The award is intended to help Montanans conduct research on their towns, counties, and regions using resources at the Montana Historical Society. Research can be for any project related to local history, including exhibit development, walking tours, oral history projects, building history or preservation, county or town histories, archaeological research, and class projects. Awards of $1,250 each will be given to two researchers annually.

Recipients will be expected to:
·       travel to the MHS to conduct research
·       spend a minimum of one week in residence conducting research
·       provide a copy of their final product or a report on their completed project to the MHS Research Center

Applications are evaluated on:
·       suitability of the research to the Society's collections
·       potential of the project to make a contribution to local history
·       experience in conducting local history research

The application must include the following:
·       project proposal, not to exceed 3 pages, describing the research including the specific MHS Research Center collections you intend to use
·       cover letter
·       1-2 page resume
·       letter of recommendation


Applications must be sent as one PDF document to mhslibrary@mt.gov no later than March 15. Announcement of the award will be made in early April. Questions should be directed to Molly Kruckenberg at mkruckenberg@mt.gov.