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.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Montana History Object by Object

We've just launched a fabulous new online exhibit, “Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object.” Funded in part by the Cultural & Aesthetic Grant Program, the exhibit features sixty-four objects from the Society’s vast collections. Individually, the objects provide fascinating glimpses into the lives of earlier generations of Montanans. Together, the stories they tell create a rich tapestry illustrating Montana’s shared history. 

What does this have to do with you and your classroom?

First, I think you'll enjoy the exhibit, created to celebrate the history of both the Montana Historical Society and the state it serves. 

"Appropriate, Curious and Rare" lives up to its name: it includes some of our rock star objects--like Charles M. Russell's When the Land Belonged to God, one of the objects in the section "Montana State of Mind."

It also includes lesser-known objects, like the chainless bicycle that Presbyterian minister Reverend Edwin M. Ellis rode to visit otherwise inaccessible congregations. You can learn more about its story in the section "Montanans in Motion."

Second, I'm hoping you'll explore the exhibit as the starting point for classroom lessons. What about having your students tell the history of your town, your school, or their family through objects? Renee Rasmussen, who used to teach in Chester, had a great family heirloom project she did with her high school students that involved having her students research and write about an object that had been passed down through their family. Through their work, students tried to answer such essential questions as "What does this object tell me about who I am?" This is exactly the type of question we ask of the artifacts in "Appropriate, Curious, and Rare," substituting "who we are as Montanans" for the more personal "I." 

Finally, I hope you (and your class) will join us for a little fun. Along with launching the exhibit, we're launching a Montana Madness competition, during which the items featured in the exhibit will compete March Madness–style for the title of Montana’s Most Awesome Object.

Will you and your students help us select objects from “Appropriate, Curious, & Rare: Montana History Object by Object” to compete in the Sweet Sixteen? Online polls opened February 2 at our website. Voting to determine which objects should join the initial Sweet Sixteen will end at 11:59 p.m. February 25, 2018.

You and your students can participate in the selection of Montana’s most awesome object by following the voting links on the Montana Madness webpage or through the Montana Historical Society Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Once we've selected the 16 competitors, we'll post a bracket to download--then objects will face off against each other; those garnering the most votes will advance to the Final Four. Ultimately, one object will be named the most awesome of them all.

I'm thinking we can have a lot of fun with this--but I need you to help. First, explore the exhibit. Then vote for your favorite objects. Follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds if you don't already. nds to play. Promote the objects and stories nearest to your heart using the hashtag #MontanaMadness and to invite your friends to play.

I'm rooting for the wooden board from the Smith Mine Disaster (right), whose story you can find in the Montanans at Work section

Which object would you like to see win the title?

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