Documentary Photography



William Thomas grave along I-90


Click for different view

If you get off the interstate at Reed and head west on the old frontage road, about three miles east of Grey Cliff you’ll pass an old highway marker.

Text of historical highway sign: In 1866 William Thomas, his son Charles, and a driver named Schultz left southern Illinois bound for the Gallatin Valley, Montana. Travelling by covered wagon they joined a prairie schooner outfit at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and started over the Bridger Trail. The train was escorted by troops detailed to build a fort (D.F. Smith) on the Big Horn River.

From the site of this fort the Thomas party pushed on alone. A few days later they were killed at this spot by hostile Indians. Emigrants found the bodies and buried them in one grave.

The meager details which sifted back greatly impressed William Thomas’ seven year old nephew. Seventy-one years later (1937) this nephew closely followed the Bridger Trail by car and succeeded in locating the almost forgotten grave.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 05/02 at 12:49 AM
(0) CommentsPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
©2005 Montana Heritage Project


Picasa from Google

Have you accumulated hundreds of photographs doing heritage projects? Are you looking for a good tool to organize and label them?

Here’s a free photograph organizer from Google.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 01/20 at 06:50 AM
(0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
©2005 Montana Heritage Project


Montana Folks: researching and profiling unique Montanans

I’ve been reading Montana Folks, a new book by Durrae and John Johanek. It includes black and white environmental portraits and 1000-word profiles on 59 Montanans. “The authors sought out those people who are uniquely Montanan, so there’s a third-generation sheepshearer from Reedpoint, a retired road worker who’s job it was to clear the snow off the high-altitude Beartooth Highway, a Missoula-based mushroom hunter and, of course, a grizzly bear expert.”

High school students could do this sort of work: interviews and photographs of Montanans. It seems a good way of interpreting and documenting local culture, encouraging young people to seek out and pay attention to people worth seeking out and paying attention to.  I would love to see a collection of such profiles on this website.

We’ll develop a rubric for writing profiles. If you want a presentation to your students on doing such research and writing, done by me or Katherine or both, let us know. If you are interested in having students do this sort of work, it would be a good idea to have a copy of the book in your classroom as an inspiration and model. Let us know if you want us to order you a copy from Amazon.

Here are tips prepared by Katherine on writing a research-based feature article.

The Johaneks themselves could fit one of the profiles of their book. The couple moved to Bozeman 13 years ago from Pennsylvania, although John is originally from Wisconsin—the giant cheese wedge on his TV testifies to that fact.

A magazine design consultant, he is also a collector of children’s books from the early part of the 20th century, many of which he keeps shelved in his living room. He also boasts an impressive collection of all things 3-D—holograms, 3-D movie posters, stereo-viewers, View Masters, even 3-D cereal boxes.

Durrae is an editorial freelancer who has written articles for Bird Watcher’s Digest and Popular Mechanics. The couple collaborated on a previous book, “Montana Behind the Scenes,” a backroads guide to some of the state’s lesser known but still interesting attractions.


Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 12/19 at 02:12 PM
(0) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
©2004 Montana Heritage Project