Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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Montana: Stories of the Land

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Chapter 16 - Montana and World War I, 1914-1918

Learning From Historical Documents

Letter from Samuel McKennan to T. C. Power, Regarding the Purchase of Artillery Horses by France, Britain, and Italy, 1915. Thomas Charles Power papers, 1868-1950. Manuscript Collection 65. [box 72 folder 60]. Montana Historical Society Research Center. Archives. Excerpted in Not In Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana (Helena, 1976): 225.

Context for Samuel McKennan's Letter:

Before the use of internal combustion engines, some Montana ranchers raised horses exclusively. These animals gained acclaim for their stamina and quality and the outbreak of World War I placed a premium on their supply as artillery and cavalry mounts. European army representatives attended the Miles City horse market - one of the world's largest - to fill their needs. Helena banker Samuel McKennan visited the community and enlightened merchant prince T. C. Power on the brisk international sales.

About Primary Sources:

Letters, diary entries, census records, newspapers, and photographs are all examples of "primary sources," material created at a particular moment in the past that has survived into the present. Primary sources can provide clues to the past. They are our windows into an earlier time. The Montana Historical Society contains thousands of primary sources. In the 1970s, archivists collected just a few snippets into a book, which they called Not in Precious Metals Alone: A Manuscript History of Montana. That book is now on the web in its entirety. The above sample from that book relates directly to this chapter.

War Garden in Helena
War garden in Helena, 1918, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 2005-4 A1 p10
Drill work in a Butte mine
Drill work, Butte mine, No. 1 A ore, ca. 1910, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives Lot 8 Box 1/9.04