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Supported by the Montana Cultural Trust

Welcome to the home page for the African-Americans in Montana Heritage Resources Project, a gateway to exploring the Montana Historical Society's rich collections that document this understudied aspect of our state's history. Although African-Americans have never totaled more than one percent of the state's population, they have been here since the earliest days of the Euro-American presence and contributed greatly to Montana's culture, economy and religious life. Every census from 1870 to 1930 counted more African-Americans living in Montana than in the Dakotas, Idaho or Wyoming, except for the 1910 census when Wyoming claimed that distinction.



The resources on this web site are comprised of information about primary sources - materials that survive from a particular moment in the past. Found in the collections of the Museum, Archives, Photograph Archives, and
Library at the Montana Historical Society, these primary sources include artifacts, letters, business records, newspapers, photographs, and oral histories. Some information was also collected about secondary sources -  such as books or journal essays -  that were created later and that often integrate information from several sources.



 

 


*African-Americans in Montana timeline is an interactive presentation incorporating United States and Montana events selected from the Montana: Stories of the Land textbook and juxtaposed with people, places and events that influenced African-American history in Montana. All of the people noted in the "African-Americans in Montana" column are African-American unless noted otherwise.

* Bibliography of primary sources lists the MHS collection catalog number, title or name of the object, name and location of its creator and or user, dates and other information on artifacts, photographs, oral histories, & artwork associated with African Americans in Montana. It also includes links to National Register of Historic Places nomination forms for Montana sites associated with African-American history. The bibliography is arranged by collecting department and catalog number and is text-searchable.

* Biographical information documents African-Americans by individual name who were listed in the 1870, 1910 and 1930 federal censuses. It also includes "non-census" information on some individuals whose names appeared in Montana city directories, newspaper articles, etc.


Data from the three censuses was entered into a relational database by an MHS intern funded by the August and Mary Sobotka Education Trust Fund and includes information on the individual's cohabitants and neighbors in terms of ethnicity, work, etc. Such contextual data provides an invaluable window into these Montanans' lives.

Every effort has been made to spell proper names correctly but if you see an error or have comments on the project resources, please e-mail the African-Americans in Montana Project.

* Montana History Wiki has an alphabetical listing of every African-American individual listed in the census data described above. Some of these individuals might also have their own file in the Research Center's biographical vertical files.



Other African-Americans in Montana Resources (.pdf) lists mostly secondary source material: books, journal essays, and Web sites documenting African-Americans in Montana and the West.

Model Lesson Plan: Fourth Grade (.pdf) suggests one way you can integrate the material on this site into your elementary school classroom.

Model Lesson Plan: Eighth Grade (.pdf) suggests one way you can integrate the material on this site into your middle school classroom. This lesson plan can also be adapted to high school.

Profiles of African American Montanans (.pdf)  is a lesson plan and PowerPoint presentation to introduce students to some of the African Americans who contributed to Montana history.


We have posted much of the material as Pdf files, which can be viewed and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat reader and would like to download it click here.