Montana & Local History & Information
Pieces of Montana's Past
The Montana Memory Project is a cooperative project among a number of our state's libraries and museums. Digital copies of historic photographs, documents and objects are made available for all to enjoy.
Billings Public Library has started to make digital copies of photographs in the Montana Room collection, beginning with photographs of early Billings pioneers. Take a look!
- Billings Public Library digital historic photographs in the Montana Memory Project
- Digital memory projects from other communities in Montana
- Montana Memory Project homepage
Montana Vintage Postcards
Our newest collection Montana Vintage Postcards is now available to view on the Montana Memory Project website. This collection includes 244 postcards depicting historic structures, city life and rodeo scenes throughout Montana as well as popular attractions in Yellowstone National Park. Many of the postcards also have messages on them giving us a glimpse into late 19th century and early 20th century life.
*This collection was digitized using a grant from the Montana State Library through the Library Services and Technology Act.
Settling the West
The Bureau of Land Management has the homestead records (Land Patents) and survey maps from the General Land Office - Federal land conveyance records for the Pubic Land States, including image access to more than five million Federal land title records and survey maps issued between 1788 and the present. BLM/GLO Records
This downloadable handout discusses the different kinds of land records and how to research your ancestors using them: U.S. Land Records for Genealogists
Montana Place Names
All the place names in the state, including towns now gone, are in the Montana Place Name database at Montana Place Names. Have fun searching for the town your ancestors settled in.
Billings Gazette: Archived Newspapers
View a selection of archived Billings Gazette newspapers on two sites:
- The Advantage Preservation portal stores digital archives of recent editions starting with January 2013. The collection is expanded at quarterly intervals and includes an assortment of early papers from 1929 to 1970.
- Search the Billings Gazette’s historic newspaper pages from 1899-1909 at Chronicling America on the Library of Congress website. Chronicling America iis produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Montana Newspapers in a Graphical Map Interface
This Graphic map of digitized historic Montana newspapers consolidates several sites into one clickable map for access to digitized Montana newpapers.
Historic Montana Newspapers from the Montana Historical Society
The full-text searchable database Montana Newspapers contains over 400,000 pages from 60+ Montana newspapers dated 1885-2015. These do not overlap with the Chronicling America website. There is a complete list of the newspapers available.
Chronicling America: More Historic Montana Newspapers
The Chronicling America project from the Library of Congress features digitized historic Montana newspapers as well as other American newspapers published between 1690-present. There is a complete list of Montana newspapers in *.PDF format for the Chronicling America site.
Mountain West Digital Public Library
You may also like to look at the Mountain West Digital Public Library. It is a central search portal for digital collections from the Mountain West region. The Montana Memory Project is one of the collections included.
Digital Public Library
To explore digital collections from institutions across America, study those at the Digital Public Library (DPL). The DPL is an open and collaborative community dedicated to digitizing content for public use.
Books and Files
The Montana Room on the second floor contains a special non-circulating collection of local interest and historical items. In addition to about 7,500 books, there are magazines with references pertaining to Montana as both state and territory, non-fiction works by Montana authors, and works about events of interest to or occurring in Montana, such as the Battle of the Little Big Horn. There is also a collection of maps, including historical maps of Billings, Yellowstone County, Montana as both a state and a territory, topographical maps of Montana, and recreational maps for Montana and Yellowstone National Park.
Montana Room Microfilm
The microfilm collection includes:
- All the back issues of the Billings Gazette and older Billings newspapers
- All the minutes of the Billings City Council from the first meeting
- Montana census info from 1880 to 1930
- Sanborn fire insurance maps of Billings
The Genealogy Room is located right next to the Montana Room. For more information, as well as more access to sources of local history, visit the Genealogy page.