New book traces the paper trail of Montana’s history

Collector and historian Thomas Minckler has spent half a century collecting 19th and early 20th century letters and documents, vintage photographs, rare books and paintings. He shares these collections in his new book Montana: A Paper Trail.

Nathaniel Des Marais, a veteran America West scholar, wrote of the more than 10,000 articles, “Make no mistake, this is the finest collection of Montana sources ever assembled.”

Minckler’s decades of research and contextualization of items in his collection have revealed countless valuable insights into Montana’s history. The unique paper trail of each artifact reveals a journey that contributes to Montana’s fascinating history.

The extensive collection includes the only image of James Kipp (1788-1880), the iconic builder of the upper Missouri fur trading posts. It also includes photos of Ferdinand Hayden’s legendary 1871 Yellowstone Expedition by photographer Bozeman Joshua Crissman, who produced the first images of Yellowstone Park and the only known photo of the expedition’s wagon train. Additionally, the collection includes exceptional unpublished papers by Granville Stuart, Teddy Blue Abbott, CM Russell, Thomas Meagher, Father Pierre DeSmet, and George Armstrong Custer.

“In this lavish book, Tom lays out his treasures before our eyes and provides the context needed to understand the claim each holds on his or her attention,” said renowned historian and author Brian Dippie.

“Montana is known as The Treasure State for good reason. Gold has passed through its early days and gold dust still clings to the treasures of Tom’s collection. Fittingly, his account of his Adventures on the Montana Paper Trail is ambitious and full of rewards for those who would accompany him on his journey.”

Published by the Montana Historical Society Press, Montana: A Paper Trail will be released at a book launch event from 6-7:30 p.m. on December 16, in the Community Hall of the Billings Public Library.

Diana Di Stefano, editor of the Montana Historical Society Press, said it was an amazing book.

“It is rare for a private collection of this caliber to become available to the public; it is even rarer to have objects so skilfully and pleasantly explained, as Minckler does in Montana: A Paper Trail,” she said. declared. Montana: A Paper Trail can be ordered through the MTHS Bookstore: or call 406/444-2890. 440 pages and 449 illustrations.

Book signings and additional readings will take place in Montana and around the country. For more information contact Corby Skinner at [email protected]

About Debra D. Johnson

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