Montana Historical Society WWI special exhibit on display

When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917 to make the world “safe for democracy,” a conflict over American ideals erupted at home. What happened when pro-war propaganda swept across the nation? What did it mean to be an American and how did that tear communities apart? What ideals were Montanans fighting to protect? See the Montana Historical Society’s newest exhibition exploring these questions and commemorating the First World War. 

The exhibit Times of Trouble, Times of Change: Montana and the Great War explores how everyday Montanans served the war effort on both the home front and the Western Front. The exhibit showcases some of the contributions Montanans made, including a Red Cross quilt made to raise money for relief efforts. The exhibit also examines how patriotic fervor pulled some communities together and tore others apart, including when the Speculator-Granite Mountain Mine fire on June 8, 1917 led to the death of at least 168 miners. 

Montanans, including non-citizen Native Americans, served in the military in record numbers—from the skies over Europe to the forests of France, from military hospitals to supply ships, and from the telephone exchanges to the trenches. Those who returned found their home communities struggling with influenza and drought. 

The exhibit offers several interactive experiences for visitors to step into the lives of Montanans during the war, including a life-sized trench replica and a “Follow a Montanan” character experience. The exhibition will be open through Summer 2019. 

 

Exhibition highlights:

• “Follow a Montanan” character experience in which visitors select a card that features a real Montanan at the start of their journey into the exhibit. At the end of the exhibit, visitors find out more about their character’s story.

• Red Cross quilt raffled off as fundraiser for Cascade County Red Cross. People paid to have their names placed on the quilt; there are almost 1300 names on the quilt front and back. A total of $1060.80 was donated to the Red Cross.

• Telegrams between families and the North Butte Mining Company after the Speculator-Granite Mountain Disaster, the deadliest hard rock mining disaster in American history

• Mail bag used by Jeannette Rankin while representing Montana in Congress and excerpts from letters Rankin received from Montanans about the war

• Interactive components exploring Montana’s Sedition Act, on which U.S. Congress modeled the federal Sedition Act

• Walk-through, life-sized trench replica with interactive trench periscope

• Uniforms, weapons, gear, medals, and photographs from the MHS Museum Collection and private lenders that belonged to Montanans who served their country during the Great War

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Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
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Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961

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