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Monday, February 27, 2017

More digitized Montana newspapers now online

The Montana Historical Society is pleased to announce that new content is available to search and browse on the web site MONTANA NEWSPAPERS.

Several newspapers from Thompson Falls, including the SANDERS COUNTY LEDGER, DEMOCRAT, and SIGNAL (1905-24), are online.

The FLATHEAD COURIER (Polson) boasts a 70-year run, from 1910 to 1980.

From the town of Moore, Montana, you’ll find THE INLAND EMPIRE (1905-15) and THE MOORE INDEPENDENT (1921-31).

We’ve also added three special editions:

Montana Newspapers is one of two online repositories of digitized Montana newspapers. The other is Chronicling America, which includes both newspapers from Montana and ones from around the country. Find a list of the Montana papers available through Montana Newspapers here, and a separate list of the Montana papers available through Chronicling American here. (Note that there is no overlap between the two sites.) Or check out this map, that shows the papers' geographic distribution. 

Want ideas for using the digitized newspapers in your classroom? Check out these earlier posts: 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Who is the keeper of your community's heritage?

Who are the Heritage Keepers in your community--the people who have worked tirelessly to preserve our shared history and culture? Consider nominating one of these special people for the 2017 Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees' Heritage Keeper Award

With this annual award, The Montana Historical Society's Board of Trustees honors exemplary commitment, effort, and impact in identifying, preserving, and presenting Montana's historical and cultural heritage for current and future generations.   

You can find the names of past awardees here, and the nomination form here.


If you know someone whose commitment to Montana historical and cultural preservation is worthy of recognition, submit a completed nomination form by mail, fax or e-mail, on or before March 15, to:
Heritage Keeper Awards Chair
Montana Historical Society
225 North Roberts
P.O. Box 201201
Helena, MT 59620-1201
jlewis@mt.gov
406-444-1799
406-444-2696 (fax)
Nominations may be resubmitted and/or reconsidered on an annual basis if the person or group did not receive an Award the previous year or years.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Become a Montana Historical Society Teacher Leader in History

The Montana Historical Society is soliciting applications from K-5 teachers interested in helping improve elementary history education in their schools, districts, and regions by becoming Teacher Leaders in History.

Successful applicants will demonstrate a commitment to history education, interest and experience in teaching Montana history, excellence in the classroom, experience in sharing best practices with their colleagues, and familiarity with the Montana Historical Society’s work and educational resources.

In addition to the criteria above, up to the 10 program fellows will be chosen to reflect Montana’s geographic and educational diversity, assuring representation from different regions and both small and large schools.

Those accepted as Teacher Leader Fellows will be brought to Helena for a two-day Teacher Leader in History Summit, to be held at the Montana Historical Society, June 14-15, 2017, at the conclusion of which they will be certified as Montana Historical Society Teacher Leaders in History.

Throughout 2017-2018, this select group of Teacher Leaders in History will

  • Serve as a members of the Montana Historical Society Educator Advisory Board, providing advice and classroom testing of lesson plans on an as-needed basis.
  • Work to increase the Montana Historical Society’s visibility in their schools and communities.
  • Promote Montana Historical Society resources to teachers in their region.
  • Assist teachers in their schools in finding appropriate resources/implementing lessons that reflect best practices in elementary history education.
  • Provide feedback to the Montana Historical Society about the areas in which they see need.
  • Sharing Montana Historical Society Resources
    • through a formal presentation at one or more regional conferences (for which they may earn OPI Renewal Units)
    • within their own school or across their district through informal outreach and/or formal presentations
  • Communicating with Montana Historical Society staff throughout 2017-18, documenting the outreach they have conducted
  • Participating in asynchronous discussions about
    • the obstacles their colleagues face while teaching history, and especially Montana history
    • ideas for overcoming these obstacles to improve history education
    • ideas for reaching other teachers with information.
In return, the Montana Historical Society will provide the following (valued at more than $500):
  • Full travel scholarships to attend the free two-day June 2017 Summit, with the option of participating in a post-summit workshop on Reading Strategies for Social Studies on June 16, 2017.
  • An honorarium of $100 to cover travel expenses to one regional conference, at which the participant is presenting.
  • Free shipping for one MHS footlocker during the 2017-18 school year.
  • Ongoing support and consultation, including model PowerPoint presentations to use and adapt as in presentations to fellow educators
  • A certificate designating the participant as an official MHS Teacher Leader in History.
  • Up to 15 OPI Renewal Units or 1 graduate credit (at the cost of $150/pending course approval from MSU-Northern)  
Only 10 teachers will be selected for this special program. Apply online here. Applications are due April 30. Awardees will be notified by May 12

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.