In honor of Veteran’s Day, the Society’s Archives staff selected letters from soldiers in the Society’s collection. They transcribed excerpts, which they shared at a public program last week as reader’s theater. [Update: You can hear Archives staff read some of these letters here.]
They also put together a booklet of these letters—an early draft of which you can download here.
The earliest letter was written by Archibald Simons to his sister Nellie, on July 18, 1863, while he was serving in the Union Army in Tennessee. (Simons later became an Indian agent at Fort Belknap, which is why the letter ended up in the Society’s collection.
The most recent letter is an email from Capt. Cory Swanson of Helena, May 3, 2005, from Iraq.
Scans of the originals of John Harrison’s letters, transcribed in this booklet, can be found in the Society’s digital footlocker, The Home Fires: Montana in World War II. Down the road, the Society may also scan more of these letters and place them on the Montana Memory Project. [Update: Mr. Harrison died on November 11, 2011--Veteran's Day--at age 98. His obituary paints a picture of an amazing man].
Additional resources and interesting links relating to Montanans during World War I and World War II can be found in the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website and Teachers Guide Chapter 16 (World War I) Chapter 19 (World War II), including artwork by Billings area Baatan Death March survivor Ben Steele.
The Library of Congress Veterans History Project includes links to oral histories and detailed instructions on how to conduct a veterans history project in your own classroom.
As I was composing this, Kathy Francisco from Project Archaeology sent me a link to this list of Indian warriors who fought against the 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn. She learned about it at a presentation given by MSU grad student Veronica Maday on native women warriors, past and present.
Lots of angles, lots to read, lots of research possibilities….