Golden Anniversary Letter, September

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As Humanities Montana celebrates our 50th anniversary, we have been honored to hear from previous board members and staff and our friends from throughout the state. Next month, we will hear from Dr. Margaret Kingsland, executive director of the Montana Committee for the Humanities from 1974 to 1995. This month, we share excerpts from the first grant application Montana Committee for the Humanities (now Humanities Montana) submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities in August 1972.

The original members of the Montana Committee for the Humanities were Robert Pantzer, Pierce Mullan, Joe Ward, John Van de Wetering, Roy Huffman, Alma Jacobs, Earl Barlow, and Harold G. Stearns. The committee held a series of state conferences and submitted a funding proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities for $155,000 with the theme “Political Power in Montana.” 

The following quotes from the original grant application illustrate the forward-thinking vision of these early Montana Committee for the Humanities leaders:

  • Can the humanist be brought together with the Montana public to create a dialogue on contemporary social issues? This is the challenge and the opportunity facing the Montana Committee for the Humanities.
  • Montana is a state which can profit greatly from the process of public dialogue. It is a state which possesses a widely scattered population and important intellectual resources concentrated in several universities and colleges, but without a means to bring these two groups together. It is also a state with vital social problems which receive little examination in newspapers, radio, television, or magazines. 
  • Rural communities are disintegrating, and amorphous urban communities are emerging. Nowhere is there a forum for the discussion of important public issues. To provide such a forum is the first major goal of the Montana Program in the Humanities.
  • [T]he Committee sets forth the following specific objectives for its first year of operation:
    • [T]o stimulate a statewide dialogue on an important public policy issue in Montana
    • [T]o reach a broad spectrum of the public in dealing with the state theme as it affects particular groups and localities, specifically aiming to involve a large number of local groups in the regrant process, such as those in the fields of education, politics, agriculture, labor, business, community service, and social action, among others
    • [T]o increase communication among groups—academic, labor, community action, environmental, women, business, media, farmers, and others—which normally have little contact with each other and which can benefit from one another in a dialogue on an issue of common concern

You can read the full grant proposal from the archives here. Please share your thoughts and your Montana Committee Humanities/Humanities Montana story with us as we celebrate 50 years of the humanities in Montana. Email us at