This article originally appeared in the Seeley Swan Pathfinder. Written by Andi Bourne.
SWAN VALLEY – The Montana History Foundation (MHF) announced its 2020 grant cycle will put $164,800 into 29 historic preservation projects in 27 communities this year including the Upper Swan Valley Historical Society.
Since 2012, when the MHF grants program began, they have provided more than $1 million to history projects throughout Montana, supporting 247 projects in 47 counties.
Funding for the MHF Grants Program comes from a variety of private sources, including a grant from the Fortin Foundation, a grant from the Louis L. Borick Foundation, and donations from dedicated donors.
“The projects we fund through our grant program are vital in order to continue telling Montana’s story for generations to come,” said History Foundation President/CEO Charlene Porsild. “We are thrilled to be able to provide these grants and enable our partners in history to do the work on the ground in their communities.”
The Upper Swan Valley Historical Society (USVHS) was among this year’s recipients receiving $6,900 for a digital archiving project. They are using the grant to make the Upper Swan’s history and culture more accessible by digitizing artifacts, historic photos, oral histories, books and other records so they can be protected and shared widely.
A trained, temporary, part-time archivist will work with a trained volunteer and the archives’ program coordinator to photograph artifacts, digitize and transcribe oral recordings. The descriptions of these resources will be stored in searchable museum software allowing the public to be able to enter a key word and find oral recordings, photographs, stories and other records about it and the historic period.
“The Swan Valley’s history is significant and USVHS preserves and promotes the valley’s historical and cultural heritage,” wrote Carissa Beckwith, MHF grants manager, in an email. “The USVHS’s digital archive system, first developed in 2017 with assistance from the History Foundation, allows historical materials to be shared more broadly. The History Foundation supports USVHS’s goal to create a well-organized catalogue system and a digital, searchable database in order to continue to preserve, interpret and share these resources with the public.”
The collections will be available through the Montana Memory Project, a statewide database and hosted online for a broad public audience. Visitors to the Swan Valley Museum will also have access through a new computer set-up.
This is the third MHF grant the USVHS has received since 2012 totaling $14,900. The first was in 2014 for $5,000 to complete the documentary entitled: “Wranglers, Dudes, and Homesteaders: Stories from Montana’s Swan Valley Lodges.” The video focused on the 100-year history of three historical lodges: Gordon Ranch, Holland Lake Lodge and Lindbergh Lake Lodge. The video is used in the Swan Valley Museum and is available on YouTube.
In 2016, USVHS received a MHF grant for $3,000 to assist with their collections protection. The grant allowed them to transcribe and catalogue existing oral histories, digitize at-risk historic print photographs and assign accurate historical captions to these photographs.
USVHS Program Coordinator Anne Dahl said, “We are thrilled to receive this support.”
A complete list of the 2020 funded projects can be found by visiting https://www.mthistory.org/grants/