A Narrative History of the Montana Heritage Project



Bigfork in the 1920s

Mary Sullivan

Bigfork High School

1997-98

In Bigfork, students used Norman Maclean’s novel, A River Runs Through It, to formulate ideas about Montana life in the 1920s. After studying the novel, students watched and discussed Robert Redford’s production of the movie to further develop Montana themes and issues of the 1920s. A trip to Missoula to see where the Macleans had lived, worked, schooled and worshiped followed and students had a chance to practice fly fishing to better understand the importance of this activity to Maclean’s novel. Upon returning to Bigfork, honors students continued the project by seeking out community elders who were teenagers in the 20s. Acting as mentors, these elders and small groups of students met to share information and experiences about life in this era. To add depth to elder interviews and oral histories, students conducted archive research to collect related historic information. Mentors and the community were honored in an open house with a 1920’s Montana theme. Mentors were escorted by students dressed in 20s attire to seats of honor and were thanked for their help with the project. The research and interviews were highlighted in a video, the choir and the band performed period music, and students danced the Charleston.

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© 1998 Montana Heritage Project
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