Montana Room

About the Montana Room

What will your find in the Montana Room? Books about the people, places and events that shaped and continue to shape Billings,Yellowstone County and the state of Montana. Microfilm of Billings newspapers from 1882 onward. Yearbooks from city high schools. City directories and old telephone directories. In short, the resources you need to learn about your community. Materials in the Montana Room are not available for checkout, but many of the titles are also available in the nonfiction collection.

We are in search of yearbooks!

We need yearbooks from Billings Central, Senior, Skyview and West High Schools! We are working on digitizing our yearbook collection and adding them to the Montana Memory Project but we have some gaps that we would like to fill.

We are looking for yearbooks that have minimal to no writing in them and do not have missing or torn pages.

The years that we need are:

Central High School – 1945-1946, 1948-1953, 1957, & 1968-current.

Senior High School – 1909-1911, 1913, 1917, 1919, 1943, 1956, 1958, 1972, 1980, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1997-1998, 2002, 2011-2012, & 2016-current.

Skyview High School – 2014 & 2016-current.

West High School – 1963, 1967, 1974-1975, 1986, 1990-1992, 1994-1996, 1998-current.

Drop off at the 2nd floor help desk or for more information call Cassie at 657-8258!

Tales From the Archives

These stories come from the archives at Billings Public Library. Buried deep in file cabinets for decades, they are emerging as library staff sort through, re-organize and index them. Some come from newspaper stories from around the state. Some are from correspondence, pamphlets, newsletters or other sources. They tell fascinating stories about the lives and experiences of our fellow Montanans. A new story will be featured each week.

Sadie Lindeberg: Dr. Sadie, Doctor for Women

LindebergSadie_Sadie Lindeberg never married, but she had thousands of babies to call her own. Sadie was born in 1884, in a tiny community also called Sadie, some sixteen miles west of Miles City, the first non-native child born in that area. She graduated from high school in Miles City, and received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. After interning in Chicago for a year, she returned home to Miles City and opened a practice in 1908.

A woman doctor was a rare thing at that time; there were only three in the state. The cowboy with the injured foot who was her first patient was skeptical about her, as were other doctors in the area. Lindeberg consequently concentrated her practice on caring for women and children, particularly in delivering babies. There was no hospital at the time, so patients were treated in her office, in a local maternity home, or in their own homes. This required some trouble for Lindeberg to attend births. She reported huddling under buffalo robes while in a buggy during a blizzard, using a handcar on the rails, and trying to convince a train conductor that she was the doctor they were holding the train for. That conductor was still dubious until a few years later when Lindeberg delivered his niece’s child. But after a few more years, “Dr. Sadie” was a fixture in Miles City.

Lindeberg maintained her practice in a Main Street office until 1950, when she moved her office into her home. Her records were lost in the move, but Dr. Lindeberg estimated she had delivered 8,000 babies by that time. 

As well as presiding over family additions, Lindeberg also facilitated adoptions. Her records were mostly lost, but it turned out that many of them were forged anyway. This was done on her part to protect the mothers, many of whom were unwed. It is impossible to know how many adoptions she took part in, but enough so that adoptees refer to themselves as “Sadie’s Babies.”

After Dr. Sadie’s death, what had been an open secret in the medical community was more widely revealed: the grandmotherly doctor was also regarded as one of the state’s leading abortionists. Doctors in the Montana medical community understood that Lindeberg was performing abortions, which were illegal throughout her career, but none discussed it with her, nor challenged her on it. In fact, some of them were referring patients her way because they could trust her care of the patients. One such woman described her experience to the Missoulian in 1989, stating that she had signed a form stating that she had consulted Lindeberg for a bleeding issue, and the doctor had been unable to save the child. She further stated that Lindeberg initially refused to perform the abortion as she was married, and only relented when she promised she was seeking a divorce and her husband supported the decision.

Lindeberg was still practicing after her 80th birthday in 1964. By this time, she had delivered three generations of babies in one family alone. Along the way, she adopted two daughters, had been named Woman of the Year by a local businesswomen’s organization, and was presented an Emeritus Award by the American Medical Association after 50 years in practice. Dr. Sadie died in 1969, at the age of 84.

Sources: 

Billings Gazette, “Counts Babies, Not Birthdays”, April 19, 1964

Billings Gazette, “Sadie Lindeberg, Pioneer Doctor, Dies at Age 84”, February 9, 1969

Great Falls Tribune, “’Be You a Woman Doctor?’ Cowboy Asked in 1908; Sadie Lindeberg Was, and Still Is at Age of 80”, by Clyde Reichelt, undated 1965

Jones, Helen Carey (ed.), Custer County Area History: As We Recall, p. 377. Curtis Media Corporation, 1990

Kohl, Martha, Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams: Montana Women’s Stories, pp. 98-101, Montana Historical Society Press, Helena, 2016

Missoulian, “Dr. Sadie”, by Theresa Johnson, June 11, 1989

Photo Credit:

Montana Women’s History website: http://montanawomenshistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/109WHM-Lindeberg-Portrait-Custer-County-As-We-Recall-p-377-230x300.png, retrieved 9/4/18

Montana History & Local History Online

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