Contact: Tom Cook 406-444-1645
Stories of the Strength and Power
Of Montana Women in New MHS Book
The cover of “Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams: Montana Women’s Stories” is a powerful image of the strength of the stories inside the new Montana Historical Society Press book.
Two women with grease on their faces and in dirty overalls stare proudly back from the huge steam locomotive they were working on during World War One. Many people associate World War Two with women joining the formerly male work force, but this Defense Department photo taken in 1918 in Great Falls shows that women were already proving their worth and ability before Rosy the Riveter came along.
The book will be officially released with a gala party at MHS on Thursday, May 26, at 6:30 p.m. The event will include historical reenactors portraying artist Charlie Russel’s wife Nancy Russell and frontier photographer Evelyn Cameron. Native American bead and quilt makers, and other activities and refreshments.
This is a book not so much about the well-known women of Montana history, although people like first woman elected to U.S. Congress Jeannette Rankin are included. It is about the women whose stories have often been overlooked.
It is about the women who built Montana -- from its communities, to its institutions, to all that is often taken for granted today.
Women like White Clay, a Gros Ventre born in 1806 who was captured by a Crow man that had lost his son and raised her as a warrior. After proving her ability on the battle field, White Clay was given the Crow name Woman Chief. She was considered a war chief for more than 20 years.
Ruth Garfield was a ranching wife near Red Lodge. Her husband was also sheriff of Golden Valley County in 1920 when he was fatally shot. Despite her grief, Ruth served out her husband’s term becoming the first female sheriff in Montana.
These are stories that have deserved to be told for decades, and women and men alike who want to know the whole story of Montana should read them.
MHS Historical Specialist Martha Kohl edited the 336 page book that includes historic photos and costs $19.95 paperback. It can be ordered from the MHS Museum Store by calling toll free 1-800-243-9900, or at book stores.