The Power of Strong, Able Women: The League of Women Voters of Montana and Constitutional Reform

In 1972, Grace Bates, a Gallatin Valley delegate to Montana’s Constitutional Convention, identified herself in the required biographical sketch as “farmer’s wife, public servant.” A member of the League of Women Voters of Montana, she represented, literally, a league of mid-century Montana women whose capacity for informed and skilled political action changed the state’s governance. … Continue reading The Power of Strong, Able Women: The League of Women Voters of Montana and Constitutional Reform

Working to Give Women “Individual Dignity”: Equal Protection of the Laws under Montana’s Constitution

In 1972 Americans were engaged in a national debate over whether to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. That debate informed discussion during Montana’s 1972 constitutional convention, and convention delegates enshrined equal protection in the “individual dignity” clause of its Declaration of Rights. Backed by this promise of equality, women’s rights advocates and … Continue reading Working to Give Women “Individual Dignity”: Equal Protection of the Laws under Montana’s Constitution

“Things to be done which money and men will never provide”: The Activism of Montana’s AAUW

The American Association of University Women has always aspired to the promotion of women as fully contributing, educated members of society. Until the 1960s, this organization of female college graduates remained largely apolitical. At the division (state) level, Montana’s AAUW had created the highly successful AAUW Education Foundation to provide college fellowships for women, while … Continue reading “Things to be done which money and men will never provide”: The Activism of Montana’s AAUW

Defining Gender Equality: The Debate over the Equal Rights Amendment in Montana

When the U.S. Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in March 1972, the next step—passage by two-thirds of state legislatures—seemed a formality. However, over the next decade, the battle over ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment revealed that America was still divided over equality between the sexes. In Montana the controversy over the ERA … Continue reading Defining Gender Equality: The Debate over the Equal Rights Amendment in Montana

Primary Sources

What is a primary source? A primary source is an audio, visual, or printed document created by participants or witnesses to history. Primary sources include newspapers, diaries, photographs, legislative records, laws, census data, and sound recordings. Artifacts such as quilts, dolls, and household items are also primary sources. Primary sources help students of history understand how historical figures … Continue reading Primary Sources

Montana History Conferences and Various Public Programs—Bibliography

This bibliography includes oral histories from the Montana Historical Society’s audio recordings of Montana History Conferences and Various Public Programs. Subjects range from women in politics to weddings. Where possible, audio format is noted. The collection is divided between oral histories that have been transcribed and those that have not. Where possible, length of typed … Continue reading Montana History Conferences and Various Public Programs—Bibliography

Partner organizations, events, and projects

History is a collaboration of our stories and experiences. Check out our collaborators in celebrating Montana Women’s History! UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS has created several online exhibits including Women in Montana Politics, which includes a bibliography of available manuscript collections available on-site at the University of Montana library in Missoula, Montana. UM’s Archives and … Continue reading Partner organizations, events, and projects

Montana Women’s Legal History Timeline

Created by Rita Gibson, Jan White, and Nick Zarnowski for the Montana Historical Society’s Women’s History Matters Project The purpose of this timeline is simple: to trace the history of territorial and state laws that affected women. We hope that this timeline will inspire more research into the ways that the law impacted Montana women’s … Continue reading Montana Women’s Legal History Timeline

Fighting for Female Athletes: Title IX in Montana

“Some say basketball is a metaphor for life,” mused NBA Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson during an interview about Montana’s Class C girls’ basketball tradition, “but it’s bigger than that. It’s  . . .  joy.” For the first half of the twentieth century, Montana’s young female basketball players knew that joy—sprinting full court in … Continue reading Fighting for Female Athletes: Title IX in Montana

The Right to Procreate: The Montana State Board of Eugenics and Body Politics

In 1924, headlines across the state decried the “butchery of the helpless” at the Montana State Hospital for the Insane at Warm Springs, where eleven inmates were forcibly sterilized. Hospital staff responded that all sterilizations had received the required approval and that eugenics was “necessary to the future welfare of Montana.” Eugenics—the idea that “human … Continue reading The Right to Procreate: The Montana State Board of Eugenics and Body Politics