Women as Community Builders Oral History Project—Bibliography

This bibliography includes oral histories from the Montana Historical Society’s Women as Community Builders Oral History Project. A group of Montana women historians conducted interviews discussing the development and impact of women’s organizations in Montana. Women’s groups often established a community’s first library, school, museum, symphony, or recreational park, so their stories are of vital interest to anyone studying the development of a given town. Interviewees discuss the importance of lodges, church groups, professional associations, and ethnic clubs in fostering women’s involvement in community building. They also discuss the reasons groups flourished at certain times and floundered at others; the differences among autonomous, auxiliary, and coed organizations; and specific goals, issues, and projects tackled by various women’s groups. 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 transcription is noted.

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Transcribed: Alice Finnegan interview, 1987 August 13. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1015). Montana Historical Society Archives. 4 audio tapes (4 hr., 30 min.) 142-page transcript. Topics include her family; life in Anaconda; her religious views; the Catholic Church; Catholic politics and administration; Anaconda’s Catholic community; Bishop Raymond Hunthausen and other clergy members; the field of historic preservation; Anaconda’s Chinese community; labor unions; local economic development efforts; and the local historical society.

Elsie Fox interview, 1987 October 10. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1043). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 10 min.) 20-page transcript. Topics include growing up in the Powder River Valley; the 1920s and the Great Depression; her relocations throughout the West; her retirement in 1972; and her activities on the board of directors of Montana Senior Citizens Association.

Georgia Whipps interview, 1986 December 10. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1037). Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (45 min.) 25-page transcript. Topics include her early life in Montana; the formation of the Helena chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW); Belle Winestine; and Dorothy Atwater.

Harriett C. Meloy interview, 1987 September 15. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1036). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 45 min.) 51-page transcript. Topics include her childhood in Inkster, Pennsylvania; moving to Helena; her father’s work with Intermountain Union College in Helena; the 1930s Depression; her life in Helena; her involvement in local organizations, including the Helena Women’s Club, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the League of Women Voters of Montana, and the Helena PTA; her membership on the State Board of Education; McCarthyism; women’s issues; the equal rights amendment; her employment at the Montana Historical Society; and the Helena school superintendent, C. R. Anderson.

Lillian Fellows Kirkemo interview, 1987 August 31. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1034). Montana Historical Society Archives. 3 audio tapes (2 hr., 20 min.) 51-page transcript. Topics include her family’s move from South Dakota to Montana; following mining employment to Butte, to Deer Lodge, and then to Idaho; her church activities in Plains, including temperance work; politics and social activities in western Montana; and her work with the Red Cross in Montana.

Lula Martinez interview, 1987 September. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1017). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 35 min.) 53-page transcript. Topics include her childhood; her early family life in Butte; education; her involvement with migrant workers in Oregon and Idaho; her work in health clinics in Idaho; Hispanic traditions; her volunteer activities with the Butte Community Union and with other groups; her personal outlook on life; and volunteer work. Former resident of Butte.

Marian Schapiro Canavan interview, 1987 May 20. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1001). Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (1 hr.) 32-page transcript. Topics include the history of the community’s Marian White Arts and Crafts Club, organized in 1905; Canavan’s forty-year membership in the club; the Westside Shakespeare Club; the Toastmistress Club; and other social activities in Butte from 1927 to 1987.

Millicent Inez Hodge Shifty interview, 1987 October 14. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1040). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 41-page transcript. Topics include her 1923 trip from her native England to Butte; Butte’s Cornish community; Mountain View Methodist Church and other community churches; working at the telephone company cafeteria; food; the Rocky Mountain Garden Council; the Webster-Garfield Garden Club; the Sons of Saint George; and the Marian White Arts and Crafts Club. Resident of Butte.

Norma Pilling Gronfein interview, 1987 October 10. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1038). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 40 min.) 56-page transcript. Topics include her involvement in local civic and volunteer organizations, including the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Homer Club, the Campfire Girls, B’Nai Israel, the Butte Garden Club, the Butte Bridge Club, the PTA, and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA); and issues related to volunteerism. Resident of Butte.

Virginia Walton interview, 1988 February 23. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1045). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 30 min.) 47-page transcript. Topics include her experiences as a librarian in Columbus; her work at the Montana Historical Society from 1953 to 1959; various library positions she held outside of Montana during the 1960s and the 1970s; her return to Helena; her retirement; her involvement with the Helena chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW); and activities of the local Audubon Society. Ms. Walton was a librarian in Helena. ___________________________________________________________________________

Not Transcribed (may include a typed summary):

Aileen Davis interview, 1987 November 11. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1041). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 45 min.) Topics include growing up in Butte; her education at Western Montana College in Dillon; her life in Butte as a retired schoolteacher; her involvement in the Butte Orchestra Guild; and her volunteer activities at the World Museum of Mining in Butte.

Alice Shepka interview, 1987 June 17. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1009). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 12-page summary. Topics include Shepka’s early family life in Deer Lodge; her education at schools and colleges in Anaconda and Butte; her mother’s civic and volunteer activities; her involvement in the National Youth Administration; labor unions; and her volunteer activities.

Alice Stoner interview, 1987 July 23. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1010). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 14-page summary. Topics include her family; her childhood and adolescence in Great Falls; marriage and raising a family; her volunteer work with the Girl Scouts, the Rainbow Girls, and other youth groups; the Montana Extension Homemakers clubs; and the West Helena Valley Volunteer Fire Department. Resident of Helena.

Bernice Kniernim interview, 1987 August 5. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1028). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 10-page summary. Topics include her childhood in Butte; earning her teacher’s certification at Western Montana College in Dillon; teaching school in Glasgow during the 1930s; drought; construction of the Fort Peck Dam; the 1930s Depression; the measles epidemic of the mid-1930s; business and social activities in Glasgow; her marriage and family life; her volunteer activities with St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Glasgow; her involvement with the local hospital guild from 1936 to 1987; and changing attitudes about volunteerism.

Esther Mace Stahl interview, 1987 August. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1027). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) Topics include her life in Great Falls; her work as a high school and college speech, English, Latin, and physical education teacher; and her involvement with the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Florence Baldwin interview, 1987 August 29. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1033). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 50 min.) Topics include her membership in the Stevensville Women’s Club; activities of the Stevensville Garden Club; her terms on the Stevensville library board; her involvement with the local Methodist Church; and her life as a retired teacher.

Frances “Scottie” Byerly interview, 1987 August 4. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1024). Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (1 hr.) 6-page summary. Topics include her relocation to Lewistown from North Carolina in 1971; her membership on the Central Montana Hospital board; difficulties in recruiting health care professionals to the area; issues surrounding the construction of a new hospital; and her volunteer work.

Georgia Mallas interview, 1987 August 5. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1014). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 10-page summary. Topics include her Greek immigrant parents; growing up in Great Falls; the role and influence of the Greek Orthodox Church; her involvement in church affairs; her experiences as a choir director; cultural and ethnic aspects of a close-knit Greek community; her membership in the Daughters of Penelope; extended-family life; and her long-term employment with an insurance company.

Gerry Jennings interview, 1987 May 20. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1004). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 53 min.) 11-page summary. Topics include Jennings’s move from New York State to Great Falls, Montana, in 1975; her work experiences; her involvement with the Junior League in Great Falls; and her service with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) from 1976 to 1987. Resident of Great Falls.

Gladys Gorman interview, 1987 July 28. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1020). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) Topics include her 24-year service as an administrative aide for the Montana State University nursing program in Bozeman and her views on women.

Gwen Mitchell interview, 1987 May 24. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1002). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 30 min.) 11-page summary. Topics include growing up in Butte, ca. 1910-1930; Mitchell’s forty-four years as a teacher at Franklin Elementary School and at East Junior High in Butte; after-school and social activities; her duties in the Butte Business and Professional Women’s Club; and her involvement in other civic organizations.

Jeanice Fee interview, 1987 August 5. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1026). Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (1 hr.) Topics include her work as state director of the Junior Women’s League; her service as a 4-H leader; and her involvement with the Lutheran Church Women.

Jesse Udin interview, 1987 August 6. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1032). Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (50 min.) Topics include her relocation to Fairfield in 1939; her work with the local senior citizens’ drop-in center since 1972; her participation in the Teton County Council on Aging; her involvement in the local Lutheran Church; her acceptance of the Senior Citizen Auxiliary Award; and her volunteer work with the American Cancer Society.

Jo Ann Forsness interview, 1987 August 2. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1030). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 6-page summary. Topics include her membership in Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE); her volunteer work at the Faith Lutheran Retirement Home in Wolf Point; her experiences as a longtime farmer/rancher; and her involvement with the Roosevelt County Historical Society.

Judy Helin Mathre interview, 1987 July 28. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1022). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 45 min.) 13-page summary. Topics include her childhood in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; her parents’ Presbyterian Church activities; her community service while in a college sorority; the American Association of University Women (AAUW); her work as the Hunger Action Enabler for the Yellowstone Presbytery; her membership in the League of Women Voters (LWV); the United Presbyterian Women; Bozeman politics; her campaign and election as mayor of Bozeman in 1979; her duties as mayor; the Bozeman Public Library; the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP); relations between the city of Bozeman and Montana State University; volunteerism; state politics; and feminism. Resident of Bozeman.

Katherine McDonnell interview, 1987 June 9. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1012). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 50 min.) 15-page summary. Topics include her youth in Anaconda; her parents’ backgrounds; her family life; her education at the University of Wisconsin; her experiences in journalism; her employment as a schoolteacher; community work; the Federation of Women’s Clubs; religion; the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA); her travels in pre–World War I Africa; marriage; child-rearing; the 1930s Depression; the Republican Party; the National Organization for Women (NOW); the American Association of University Women (AAUW); personal perceptions of women and men; and discrimination against women in employment situations.

Kathleen Quam interview, 1987 August 2. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1023). Montana Historical Society Archives. 1 audio tape (55 min.) Topics include her early days in the Lutheran Church; intercultural relations within white and Indian communities; her work as a supporter and pianist for the Dakota Indian Presbyterian Church in Frazer; her employment as a substitute teacher; and tutoring a paralyzed Indian student, Mitchell Todd. Resident of Frazer.

Lena Slausen interview, 1987 December 2. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1044). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 35 min) Topics include African American life in Butte; discrimination; her involvement in the Butte Women’s Club; and her membership in the Pearl Club. Resident of Miles City.

Margaret Laughlin Kelly interview, 1987 July 7. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1007). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 50 min.) 5-page summary. Topics include her involvement in the Anaconda Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary; her membership in the Isabellas and other community organizations; local social activities; and her Irish ethnic background.

Marge Sternhagen Ulrich interview, 1987 August 5. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1031). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 20 min.) 8-page summary. Topics include her experiences in women’s clubs in Hamilton, Bridger, and Lewistown; her involvement with the American Association of University Women (AAUW); the General Federation of Women’s Clubs; and specific women’s issues. Resident of Lewistown.

Marjorie Knoyle Dunstan interview, 1987 October 2. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1039). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (120 min.) Topics include her membership in the Daughters of Norway; her work developing the Daughters’ scholarship fund; her participation in the Eastern Star chapter; her involvement in the Butte Toastmistress Club; and the social aspects of different organizations. Resident of Butte.

Mary Gibson interview, 1987 June 9. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1013). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr.) 15-page summary. Topics include her childhood and family background; work as a camp counselor in Colorado during the 1940s; her college education; marriage; child-rearing; her involvement with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) branch in Kalispell from the 1960s to the 1980s; and other volunteer organizations.

Mary Jo Hopwood interview, 1987 September 4. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1035). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 55 min.) 11-page summary. Topics include her military service in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) from 1943 to 1946; her relocation to Darby in 1955; her membership in the local American Legion and in the American Legion Auxiliary; her participation in the Darby Women’s Club; activities of the local museum and the public library; her involvement in the Darby Garden Club; her work with the community’s PTA; and her views on volunteerism by men and women.

Mary Smith interview, 1987 August 6. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1018). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (100 min.) Topics include her involvement in the community; the Rotana Club; the community hospital; the Elks Does; and the Daughters of Isabella. Resident of Anaconda.

Mary Trbovich interview, 1987 November 4. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1042). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (100 min.) 10-page summary. Topics include her early childhood; her relocation to Butte; family life; her involvement in Serbian organizations and church groups; comparative characteristics of the community’s ethnic groups; the impact of religion on her and on the Butte community; and her work with senior citizens.

Mildred Gollick interview, 1987 July 3. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1008). Montana Historical Society Archives. 3 audio tapes (2hr., 20 min.) 5-page summary. Topics include Gollick’s parents; growing up in England; immigrating to Montana in 1917; her nursing training at St. James Hospital in Butte; her employment at St. Ann’s Hospital in Anaconda; her work as a private-duty nurse; her membership in the Order of the Eastern Star; her involvement in other organizations; and her retirement.

Norma Houson interview, 1987 July 28. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1021). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 50 min.) Topics include her involvement in the Montana CowBelles organization from 1961 to 1986; her service in the Montana Farm Bureau from 1962 to 1976; her participation in the local Lutheran Church; and her interest in mental health care programs. Resident of Big Timber.

Paula Petrik and Kathy A. Van Hook interview, 1987 November 7. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1005). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 30 min.) 8-page summary. Topics include Petrick and Van Hook’s involvement in the Montana Women’s Lobbyist Fund; the Montana Alliance for Progressive Policy; the Montana Committee for an Effective Legislature; and issues constituting the feminist movement.

Phyllis Baird interview, 1987 August 4. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1029). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 45 min.) Topics include her association with the Zion Lutheran Church; her involvement with the local Parent-Teachers Association (PTA); her membership in the rural health-home demonstration club from the age of nineteen; and the local Soroptimists. Resident of Lewistown.

Phyllis Lewis interview, 1987 July 27. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1019). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 50 min.) Topics include her work as Gallatin County extension homemaker; her involvement in local volunteer groups; and her service to the Belgrade Public Library. Resident of Belgrade.

Sheila Connors interview, 1987 May 20. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1003). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 35 min.) 12-page summary. Topics include Connors’s childhood in Chicago, Illinois; her involvement in several volunteer organizations; her relocation to Montana in 1983; her work as the executive director of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Great Falls; issues confronting the YWCA; concerns of young women during the 1970s and 1980s; and the Montana Women’s Lobbyist Fund. Resident of Great Falls.

Sheila Rice interview, 1987 August 5. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1025). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 55 min.) 17-page summary. Topics include her work as a program planner for Community Coordinated Childcare in Great Falls; her duties as vice president of marketing for the Great Falls Gas Company; her volunteer work for various social-service agencies, including the Great Falls Children’s Receiving Home, the Junior League, the Human Resources Development Council, the Community Action Program, and the United Way; fund-raising; and women in the work force.

Sherry Wulf interview, 1987 June 10. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1011). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 45 min.) 10-page summary. Topics include her parents; her early life in the Flathead Valley; her volunteer activities in college; her involvement with various Kalispell community organizations, including the Kalispell Women’s Center, the local Human Resources Development Council, the United Way, and the Child Abuse Prevention Council; and the differences between women volunteers and men volunteers. Resident of Kalispell.

Sister Kathleen O’Sullivan interview, 1987 August 13. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1016). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (1 hr., 40 min.) 5-page summary. Topics include her parents’ emigration from Ireland to the United States; the Catholic Church; the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; her relocation to Butte; her activities with the Butte Community Union; and teaching. Resident of Butte.

Vivian Brooke interview, 1987 May 4. Women as Community Builders Oral History Project (OH 1006). Montana Historical Society Archives. 2 audio tapes (2 hr., 5 min.) 5-page summary. Topics include Brooke’s childhood; her membership in Girl Scouts and other youth groups; her college education; church activities; the church nursery; religion and the role of women in society; community work; the Catholic Church; and her involvement with the League of Women Voters of Montana. Resident of Missoula.

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