This article originally appeared in The Blaine County Journal. It was written by Donna Miller.
Zachary Coe, Community Outreach Manager from the Montana History Foundation, announced on March 29 that twenty-eight projects across the state received a total of $212,187 in grant funds disbursed for preservation projects in 2022. That sum marks the largest amount ever awarded. Among those awarded grants, the Blaine County Museum received $10,000 for the purposes of hiring a cataloging intern.
Samantha French, Blaine County Museum Director, believes that this is the first Montana History Foundation (MHF) Grant that has been awarded in Blaine County. She expressed excitement about not only the award but the prospect of hiring an intern.
“Most grants don’t typically cover payroll, so this is a great opportunity for us. We have valuable research materials just stacked in boxes in our basement. Having an intern will enable us to get these items organized and at least partially catalogued and inventoried,” French stated.
Extending for eight months, the part-time position of 20 hours/week will likely begin in July when grant funds release and the county’s new fiscal year begins. Advising residents to look for advertising in June, French described the ideal candidate as someone interested in local history, library science, or education. In addition to the organizational aspects of the position, the person hired would likely do some digitizing of the photo archives.
According to French, this preservation-related project has taken on some urgency because of a water intrusion event that occurred in the basement of the museum during February of 2021. “As a precautionary measure, we’ve already moved the entire Allison Collection of photo archives, much of the Charles Morris Collection, and some of the Bear Paw Battlefield Preservation materials off-site to another county-owned building. Our goal is to perform a holistic inventory of the visual materials remaining in the basement. As they are organized and inventoried, they will be moved off-site, as well.”
French emphasized that while the collection is not necessarily at risk, a humid environment is less than ideal for photo or paper archives since humidity and mold both have damaging effects.
Established in 1985 as a non-profit, the MHF seeks to preserve the legacy of Montana’s past. With an eye on the future, the Foundation’s central goal is to generate public support to save Montana’s rich cultural heritage and historic resources. So, it is preservation-related projects like this one at the Blaine County Museum that often receive priority status when grant applications are assessed.
“We were humbled by the number of worthy projects seeking funds this year,” stated President and CEO of MHF, Charlene Porsild. “It is an honor to support 28 community organizations working to preserve their history across Montana.”
Program Director Ciara Ryan added: “We are thrilled to support such a diverse range of historic projects in communities across the state and excited to partner with the Montana State Library to use ARPA resources to fund more projects than ever this year!”
Interested individuals can find a complete list of 2022 grant winners on the MHF website: mthistory.org. The next grant cycle will open in the fall with those applications being due in January of 2023. In fact, French reported that Porsild invited the Blaine County Museum to host a grant writing workshop in October. A description of grant criteria and a bulleted list of funded areas that receive preference also reside on the MHF grants web page.