I have long loved the book Girl from the Gulches: The Story of Mary Ronan, published by the Montana Historical Society Press and edited by my colleague Ellen Baumler.
Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, this highly readable 222-page reminiscence details Mary Sheehan Ronan’s journey across the Great Plains, her childhood on the Colorado and Montana mining frontiers, her ascent to young womanhood in Southern California, her return to Montana as a young bride, and her life on the Flathead Indian Reservation as the wife of an Indian agent.
We’ve seen parts of the book used successfully in upper elementary and high school classrooms and have long wanted to promote its use in schools. So we asked Missoula High School English teacher Cheryl Hughes and Billings elementary school librarian Ruth Ferris to help us create a study guide for the book.
They did amazing work. Designed for grades 6-10 (but adaptable to other grades), this study guide includes lesson plans, vocabulary, chapter summaries and questions, alignment to the Common Core, and other information to facilitate teaching Girl from the Gulches. We have posted it as a PDF on our website.
In addition, we’ve also posted a PDF of the first 71 pages of the reminiscence (in which Mary remembers the 1860s in Virginia City and Helena). You are welcome to download and duplicate it for classroom use. Copies of the entire book are available at local bookstores or through our museum store (1-800-243-9900).
I hope you enjoy Mary Ronan’s story as much as I have. If you do end up teaching the book and/or using lessons from the study guide in your classroom, drop me a line. I’d love to know how it went.