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Dinner to help fund oral histories project

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News from Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana

CHARLO – The featured speaker for the 14th annual fundraising event for the Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana will set the stage for the museum’s history project, “Mission Valley History: Our Collective Story.” At the Black Tie Dinner (tie optional) event on January 16, Dr. Richard Ellis will focus on “The Value of Oral History” and illustrate how such a collection of recorded and preserved historical information will add to the enrichment of our community and the museum. Dr. Ellis holds a Ph.D. in Western American history, and has taught at the University of New Mexico, Fort Lewis College and other educational institutions. He is an author and lecturer who is now retired and living in Stevensville.  From 1968-72, Ellis was the assistant director, and director, of the American Indian Historical Research Project that produced approximately 1,000 recordings. This oral history project garnered Ellis an Award of Merit from the Association of State and Local History in 1974. His archival work is also extensive, and he has authored, co-authored, or edited seven books plus numerous book chapters and articles in professional journals. He received the Teacher of the Year award from the University of New Mexico in 1978, and has served on the advisory board or board of directors for various historical societies, museums and cultural centers in New Mexico, Colorado and beyond. Dr. Ellis currently lectures as part of the Humanities Montana Speaker Bureau program. The museum is looking forward to a working relationship with Dr. Ellis as a consultant in regards to the oral history phase of its history project.

The evening will start with a complimentary tour of the museum at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at Allentown Restaurant in the Ninepipes Lodge at 7 p.m. The $45 ticket includes dinner, the museum tour, live music, and our guest speaker presentation. Geno Harper, a popular cowboy poet from Ronan, will introduce a new composition, and Richard Tobel and Liz Steele will provide guests with music. A silent auction will also be part of the evening’s activities. Please call the museum at 644-3435 or email to reserve your tickets and make an entrée selection.

The net proceeds from this fundraising event will fund the museum’s major history gathering project, which includes the gathering of oral history recordings, along with an expansion of the museum’s archival collection and the documentation and signage describing the museum’s contents. This exciting project was kick-started with a grant from the Lower Flathead Valley Community Foundation to purchase the digital recording equipment needed to record and transcribe oral histories. Donations and further grant awards are being sought to fund this project, which will be the major focus of the museum’s work throughout 2014.

Developing an archival collection that reflects the history of the Mission Valley would include stories, pictures, diaries and other items of historic significance about individuals who have called the Mission Valley home at one time in their life, about the establishment of businesses and industry that includes logging, ranching, farming, hunting/packing, etc., about the development of the railroad and highway systems, the irrigation system, and much more. The museum would be grateful to receive either originals or copies of materials that would help tell the story of the Mission Valley and provide a safe home for the materials to be viewed by generations to come. Please call the museum to discuss this in further detail (644-3435).

As a major tourist attraction in the Mission Valley, the museum seeks to develop an even stronger drawing power by expanding and enriching the descriptions of the items on display in both written and oral forms. This work will also increase the educational value of the museum to valley residents, historians and visitors alike.

Museum board members and volunteers will be on hand at the fundraising dinner to answer questions about the history project, and to schedule a time to discuss the historic documents you may wish to preserve and share at the museum. 

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