How to use the Montana Historical Society's research center - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

How to use the Montana Historical Society's research center

Posted: Mar 04, 2018 3:26 PM Updated:

The Montana Historical Society is filled with thousands of materials that speak to the people, places, and events that make up the state's history. 

"Sign in at the reference desk and here is where we're going to ask for your identification and then we're going to want to know about your project," Reference Historian Zoe Ann Stoltz said.

Stepping through the doors, you'll be greeted by someone who can get you started on the right path.

"Sometimes I'll say it takes us awhile. If they've got a really unusual request or something original that we've not looked at before, it may take some time, but we're going to do our best," Stoltz said.

Once you've signed in and filled out the patron registration form, you can work on your own starting with the vertical files, which are arranged by topic.

Stoltz said you'll find "a little bit of everything, old newspapers, files, and more recent."

A search of Montana mining magnate Thomas Cruse found those items in his vertical file as well as a detailed list of his possessions at the time of his death.

Speaking of which, searching obituaries can also be an effective place to start.

"We'll click on the death date here. Thomas Cruse, December 20th, 1914, and an obituary is often a really good first place to start," Stoltz said. "Newspaper research is often the closest we can get to a time machine."

Once the historians have a chance to research your topic, you'll hopefully get a list of more materials to look through that are stored in the secure levels of the historical society.

Boxes upon boxes of documents are held within boxes that line the shelves of those secure levels along with books, maps, and more than 15,000 reels of Montana newspapers dating back to 1864. 

Click here for a direct link to the research center. Enter your query and see what you find.

You can also visit the Montana Historical Society at 225 North Roberts in Helena or call (406) 444-2694.

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