Do you teach the story of Montana's open range cattle days?
Here's one of the best articles I've seen on decoding brands.
We've had the Montana Livestock Brand Registration records available online via the Montana Memory Project for some time, but this summer, our research center staff worked hard to make them easier to use. There's no way around it: brand searches are time consuming--but it is much easier than now than it has been in the past, and these instructions will help.
In addition, if your interested in the history of local brands, many counties have compiled their own historical record of brands recorded within that county. You can search for specific county brand books through the Montana Historical Society Research Center Online Catalog and possibly find those books at your local historical society or library. Finally, brand information was often published in local newspapers, some of which are available to search via Chronicling America.
You can find more resources for teaching Montana's ranching history on our Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website under Chapter 8: Livestock and the Open Range, especially on our Educator Resources page.