A Note on Links: When reading back posts, please be aware that links have a short half-life. You can find working links to all of the MHS resources on our Educator Resources Page.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Twentieth Century Resources for Teaching Montana History

Many Montana history teachers give short shrift to the last 100 years. It's easy to see why. The nineteenth century is exciting. And it's comfortable since this is what most of the history classes we took focused on. In addition, there is an abundance of great resources for teaching Montana history prior to World War I. But just because it is easy, doesn't mean it's right.

In the hopes of luring more you further into the twentieth century, here some resources we created that I think are worth checking out:

Montana Mosaic: 20th-Century People and Events. Aligned to Montana Content Standards and the Essential Understandings, Montana Mosaic explores twentieth-century Montana through twelve brief films. Topics include the Great Depression, the 1972 Constitutional Convention, and the rise of the American Indian Movement.

Reader's Theater: Letters Home from Montanans at War This lesson includes letters from the Civil War to the Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Women at Work Lesson Plan: Clothesline Timeline is a primary-source based lesson that asks students to analyze historic photographs to draw conclusions about women and work from the 1870s through the 2010s.

"Mining Sacred Ground: Environment, Culture, and Economic Development on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation" focuses on the issues the Northern Cheyenne had to wrestle with in order to decide whether to develop their reservation's coal and coal-bed methane resources.

Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things! Connecting Biography to Larger Social Themes uses essays published on the Women’s History Matters website to help students explore how ordinary people’s lives intersect with larger historical events and trends and to investigate how people’s choices impact their communities. After analyzing two essays on American Indian women, students are asked to conduct interviews with people in their own community to learn about how that person has chosen to shape the world around him or her.

Women and Sports: Tracking Change Over Time asks students to examine how Title IX (a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education) changed girls’ opportunities to participate in school sports.

The Home Fires: Montana and World War II is one of our Hands-on History footlockers. The User Guide (which can be downloaded here) has lesson plans and narratives that can be used with or without ordering the footlocker itself.

For additional resources, I encourage you to look at the "For Educators" pages of the Montana: Stories of the Land Companion Website for chapters 16 to 22.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Humanities Montana Helps Teachers

Humanities Montana has had great material for teachers for a while now, but its new website makes it easier to learn more about programs specifically designed for schools.

These include

  • Speakers in the Schools, a program that lets you bring in humanities speakers at NO CHARGE! "Dozens of expert presenters offer over 70 educational programs on topics covering regional and world history (including several living history presentations), Native American culture, literature, and civics." 
  • Letters About Literature, "a national program promoting reading and writing for children grades 4-10, sponsored by Humanities Montana's Center for the Book and the Library of Congress. Each fall, students are invited to submit personal letters to authors of their choosing, living or dead, whose books they have found especially meaningful." 
  • Native American Lit Study Guides, created by longtime ELA teacher Dottie Susag. This collection of resources includes extensive annotated bibliographies of Native American literary works as well as discussion questions to accompany The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie, The Surrounded by D'Arcy McNickle, Hidden Roots by Joseph Bruchac, and several other titles.  
  • Montana Authors Project, which features MAPs (get the pun?) that bring favorite and important works of regional literature to digital life. Each interactive page serves as a virtual tour of an author's imagination, as well as an actual road map of a literary setting. 

Humanities Montana also offers grant funding for special projects. According to their guidelines, HM encourages "proposals that stimulate statewide dialogue on humanities topics, foster discussion between humanities scholars and the public, [and] strengthen cooperative relationships among communities and cultural organizations (museums, libraries, schools, tribal organizations, etc.)." They are out of money this year, but will be accepting proposals again after October 1 for next school year. Their Opportunity Grants--under $1,000--are probably the easiest for those new to the process: "Applications can be submitted any time, but at least four weeks prior to the supported program." 

Summer's coming--and with it time to dream and scheme. Perhaps there's a community-based project that you've you've been wanting to do with your students, but have been stymied because you didn't have money for buses or other supplies. Need inspiration? Read about some of the projects other Montana teachers have conducted--many with no outside funding at all. Then talk to Humanities Montana. Maybe they can help you make it happen. 

P.S. There is still time for your middle and high school students to apply for the 2016 Montana Preserve America Youth Summit, "Next Generation Stewards: Expanding Connections." Attendees at this all-expenses paid workshop will spend a day at Grant Kohrs National Historic Site, as well as time in Deer Lodge, Bannack, Virginia City, and Butte. Students will stay in the dorms at Montana Tech. During the summit, participants will

  • Explore nationally significant historic properties
  • Participate in hands-on learning activities
  • Investigate interpretative approaches for National Parks and historic places
  • Study new programs and approaches to preservation and archaeology
  • Interact with other students and national and state leaders
  • Serve through work on an important community service project
  • Create recommendations for future generations
  • Develop creative ideas for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service
  • BECOME leaders! Their ideas will be shared at a public Town Hall. 
Applications are due May 2

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Two New Montana Women's History Resources

  1. A little shameless self-promotion here: I'm delighted to announce the publication of Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams: Montana Women's Stories! The book, which I edited, features a range of Montana women in a host of roles: homesteaders, clubwomen, community organizers, athletes, caretakers, suffragists, politicians, warriors, workers, artists, mothers, and grandmothers. Beyond Schoolmarms includes almost all of the essays we published over the course of 2014 on the Women's History Matters website, a website created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in Montana. (Read more about the project here.) All of the essays remain on the website, where you'll also find a number of lesson plans and other resources about Montana women's history. 

Beyond Schoolmarms isn't the only publication that grew out of Women's History Matters. In cooperation with the OPI Indian Education Office, we created a 26-page booklet, Resilience: Stories of Montana Indian Women for download (no print copies are available at this time). It includes 21 essays about Montana's Indian women--from nineteenth century indigenous women warriors to Elouise Cobell. (All of these essays were also originally published on the Women's History Matters website). The back of the booklet includes suggested lesson plans. These lessons can be used with Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams as well--or with the material on the website.

If you haven't already spent time on the website, I hope you will. And of course I hope you'll check out Resilience and Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams as well. If you do, I bet you'll learn something new. I certainly did while working on the project. Happy reading!

P.S. One of our women’s history lesson plans will be featured in the Crossing Disciplines workshops, coming next week to Billings, Miles City, and Sidney. There is still time to register! More information here.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Better Document Analysis

Glenn Wiebe's History Tech is one of my favorite blogs, and this post, "6 C’s to better document analysis," is one of the more useful Glenn's written recently. After a quick review of some of the great graphic organizers for analyzing primary sources that are out there, Glenn focuses on the History Project's 6 C’s of Primary Source Analysis graphic organizer--the 6 Cs being Content, Citation, Context, Connections, Communications, and Conclusions. I think it is a particularly useful tool because, unlike many primary source analysis tools, it focuses on placing the source in the larger context and linking it to other sources instead of viewing the item in isolation.

I'll stop here and let you hop over to Glenn's post to read more.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Access over 350,000 Pages of Montana Newspapers Online

Exciting news!

The Montana Historical Society is pleased to offer a new online resource for Montana history. More than 352,000 pages from 44 Montana newspapers dated 1885-2014 are now available on [montananewspapers.org]MONTANA NEWSPAPERS, a freely accessible, full-text searchable database and web site available at this URL montananewspapers.org.

The new site, designed specifically for digitized newspapers, offers more effective search, browse, and display of newspaper content. The content in MONTANA NEWSPAPERS was previously available on the Montana Memory Project. The [montanamemory.org]Montana Memory Project continues to offer thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, and books related to Montana's heritage.

Funding for MONTANA NEWSPAPERS was provided by the Montana Historical Society, the Montana State Library, and libraries and other contributors across the state. Montana’s participation in Chronicling America was made possible by grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to developing and publishing this new resource, the MHS is now offering a new service to the state. The Society’s Digital Services Group will work with Montana communities to digitize more of Montana’s historical newspapers. Interested parties should contact mhsdigital@mt.gov.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Summer Professional Development Opportunities

We decided to host four 1-day spring workshops across the state in April rather than a summer educator workshop. More information and a link to register for any of these workshops-- Great Falls (April 21), Billings (April 27), Miles City (April 28) and Sidney (April 29)-- is here. (And let me know what you think of this decision so we can take your opinion into consideration for next year.)

There are also lots of good options for folks looking for summer PD.

I wrote about Worlds Apart But Not Strangers: Holocaust Education and Indian Education for All (a weeklong workshop in Missoula) last week.

Here are some other opportunities from Project Archaeology:

Changing Land: Changing Life; Archaeology in the Absalooke Homeland will be held July 27th-29th near Columbus, MT. July 27th - 29th near Columbus, MT. Join us to learn about the reservation period in the United States through the lens of archaeology. You will have the opportunity to learn the history of the Crow Indian Agencies established during the reservation period of 1869-1884. Participating as a learner, you will use historical and scientific inquiry to uncover the history of this significant time, and learn how the Crow transitioned from a foraging to agricultural lifestyle. Using primary documents and oral history, you will study actual archaeological artifacts excavated at the second Crow Agency, learn about the art of beading, and find out how the archaeological evidence of food can tell us the story of transition from one lifestyle to another. This unit is designed for 3-5th grade students. Cost: $228. Register here.

Investigating Garnet Ghost Town Professional Development Workshop will be held in Garnet, MT, September 10th, 2016. Join us for an exciting trip back in time to the historic town of Garnet. You will investigate the history of this unique ghost town using primary documents including census records, maps and historic photographs. Use the curriculum in your classroom to fulfill Common Core State Standards, while your students discover historical inquiry through engaging hands on activities. You will receive full instruction in the curriculum guide, Investigating Garnet: A Historic Mining Town. Cost: $50. Two graduate credits. Register here

Investigating Pompeii, August 1st - 5th, is being held in Bozeman in conjunction with the Museum of the Rockies newest exhibit, "Leisure and Luxury in the Age of Nero: The Villas of Oplontis". This brand new curriculum asks how can investigating a Roman villa help us understand the Roman people and their culture? Pompeii and the nearby villas at Oplontis offer a glimpse into the daily life of Romans as well as Rome’s elite. Through archaeology we can explore the material remains of Roman culture in the first century learning about environment, art, and lifeways. Field trips to Yellowstone National Park and a Montana archaeological site will be included in the workshop. Cost: $35. Register here.

Monday, April 4, 2016


The Montana Historical Society Research Center has funds to digitize thirty maps this summer, and they are wondering which ones to choose. So they asked me to ask you. Are there particular maps in the Montana Historical Society's vast map collection to which you wish you had electronic access? Or are there types of maps you'd like--for example, maps showing transportation routes? Maps showing irrigation projects on tribal land? A map showing steamboat wrecks? Town plat maps? (MHS received a collection of 124 plat maps that came to us from MDT, which include plats for small towns like Lima, Loma, Joplin, Marsh and Mildred. They could choose 30 of these for digitization.) If you have an opinion, now's the time to make your voice heard. Email me and I'll pass on your requests to the Research Center staff.

The maps chosen for digitization this summer will be added to the over 500 maps already available as part of the Mapping Montana and the West Collection at Montana Memory, "an online source for digital collections relating to Montana's cultural heritage." 

Before talking with the research center about this upcoming digitization project, I had not realized the treasures available through Mapping Montana and the West (a joint project between UM and MHS). Many of my favorite maps have already digitized, for example early bird's eye or panoramic maps--including Deer Lodge 1883, Bozeman, 1884 and 1898, and Kalispell 1897. There are also several early railroad maps already online, including Reconnaissance and survey of a railway route from Mississippi River near the 35th parallel north latitude to Pacific Ocean, Map No. 1 (1854) and Map 2 (1855); Great Northern Railway and connections, 1895; the Northern Pacific Railroad and connections, 1890; Map showing Great Northern, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad System, 1901; and the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, 1908.

There are also a number of maps on homesteading, reservations (including Ceded lands of the Crow Indian Reservation, Montana: Lands taken on the Huntley Irrigation project and lands to be sold, 1911), and military exploration (for example, A Sketch of the route explored along and through the Big Horn Mountains from Camp Brown, Wyoming, to Military Post No.2, Montana, under the immediate supervision of Lieut. P.H. Sheridan, U.S.A. in the month of July 1877). And, of course, many many more.

I found the examples above by using Montana Memory's advance search function. If you want to explore their map collection, perhaps the best thing to do is to start on the search pageBefore searching, make sure you click on "show" Type of Material.

Then check the box next to "Print Materials/Maps." With that box checked, scroll back to the top and enter your search term. Try "military" or "Fort Peck" or "Glacier" or the name of your town and see what comes up. 

P.S. It's rapidly improving, but Montana Memory is still not the most intuitive site to interact with. In fact, it can be downright difficult to find material of interest on the site--despite the fact that it is an amazing treasure trove. You can find information about a few of my other favorite Montana Memory collections here.

P.P.S. You can find other posts about teaching with maps and online map collections here