The Montana Collection holds an array of materials relevant to the history of Montana, including the growth from a territory to eventual statehood in 1889.
One can find a wealth of information about the history of the state in The History of Montana by Helen Fitzgerald Sanders. Another valuable resource is Progressive Men of Montana, a two volume description of the famous men of Montana. Other topics within the Montana Collection include books on political struggles and conflicts, legislative reports, biographies of female pioneers such as Jeanette Rankin, Mary Ronan, and Mary MacLane, Native Americans like Sacajawea, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, and famous skirmishes such as the Battle of Little Big Horn and the Battle of the Big Hole. The colorful early days of law and order, corruption and lawlessness are documented by the infamous and controversial sheriff Henry Plummer, various vigilantes, and the history of Bannack and Virginia City. Stories of ghost towns abound in Montana by Dan Cushman and Gold Frontier and Shallow Diggins–Tales from Montana Ghost Towns compiled by Jean Davis.
Notable artists like Charles M. Russell, Frederick Remington, E.S. Paxson, and Ace Powell–whose works depict the wild west through paintings and sketches–can also be found in the Montana Collection. In addition, journal reproductions of Lewis and Clark, geological and topographical maps, and The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology, contribute to the wealth of information in the Montana Collection.
The Butte collection, contained behind the reference desk, covers all aspects of Butte history, from the ancient geological formations that evolved into precious minerals, to the discovery of these minerals, and the eventual wealth they produced. The mining industry transformed Butte from a camp to a city of approximately 100,000 people around the turn of the century. It attracted prominent financial, railroad, and architectural tycoons, as well as musical, theatrical and entertainment celebrities who contributed to the fame and fortune of the city. The books, maps, vertical files (collection of loose articles), and newspaper microfilm delve into the origins of a copper camp, the growth of a mining conglomerate, and finally to the demise of the mining industry and decline of Butte.
Excellent historical information can be found in:
- Writer’s Project of Montana Copper Camp
- Butte’s Heritage Cookbook (stories and recipes gathered from Butte’s ethnic neighborhoods)
- War of the Copper Kings by C.B. Glasscock
- The Butte Irish by David Emmons
- Butte’s Memory Book by Don James
- Butte in Perspective: The Columbia Gardens by Scott Brim
- A Brief History of Butte by Harry C. Freeman
- The Battle for Butte: Mining and Politics on the Northern Frontier, 1864-1906 by Michael P. Malone
- Mining Cultures: Men, Women and Leisure in Butte, 1914-41 by Mary Murphy
Works of fiction about Butte include:
- Perch of the Devil by Gertrude Atherton
- A Mile High and A Mile Deep by Richard K. O’Malley
- Work Song, Sweet Thunder and many other titles by Ivan Doig
- Butte Polka by Donald McCaig
- Singerman and Wide Open Town by Myron Brinig
- Red Harvest by Dashiel Hammet
- The Glittering Hill by C.F. Murphy
These are just a small sample of the resources available in the Montana Collection of the Butte Public Library.