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20 March 2019

Our Library Collections: Montana

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo highlighting some of our holdings at the Library in Oakland. For a fuller listing of our books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog. Our catalog is also found in WorldCat.

Browsing our library for books on Montana, I found a variety of books, including a state history and four volumes on Kiowa County.

Some of our library's Montana collection
One of our unusual books is devoted to X. Beidler: Vigilante. Part of the Western Frontier Library series, this is a reprint of the autobiography of Montana bandit John Xavier Beidler. It carries a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning author A.B. Guthrie, Jr. who writes, “In the incredible story of banditry and Vigilante justice in the Montana of the 1860s few men are at once so well known and so little known as one X. Beidler.” Why would anyone write a book about a vigilante? Paragraph two suggests an answer – “Today’s reader … is tantalized.” Of course, that is the reason I picked this particular book off the shelf. Why write a book if you can’t “tantalize” your reader and lure them to buy it? Though this volume may not shed light on your personal family history, it could be highly entertaining.

Shelby Backgrounds is a county history
The cover of Shelby Backgrounds features a sketch of Shelby Junction, an important station on the Great Northern Railroad in 1891. The book was researched and written by the Shelby History Group of the Montana Institute of the Arts. I was expecting to find a collection of sketches and content that focused on different aspects of Montana arts. Instead, I found a more traditional Tooele County history covering ranchers and cowboys, Shelby businesses, and doctors, schools, churches, newspapers and even an opera troupe. There is a lengthy foreword that covers the history of the county, followed by a series of essays written by individuals. 

Jo Rainbolt's book recounts
stories from Montana's older but
wiser residents
An Elephant in Every Yard by Jo Rainbolt was the last book to pique my interest – how could it not? This book is a compilation of newspaper columns published in the daily Missoulian from 1977-79. Each profiles a different elderly resident from Missoula. Rainbolt was a believer in the concept “older is wiser” and sought to demonstrate that in her weekly series. If one of your ancestors happened to be one of her subjects this book could be a great find. If not, it offers heartwarming stories for your pleasure reading. 

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