Collection 447 - Mathew Damm Diaries, 1915-1966
Creator: Damm, Mathew
Provenance Note: Original handwritten transcriptions of diaries maintained by Montana cattleman Mathew Damm were loaned to Special Collections for photocopying by his son, Charles Damm, in August, 1966. The original transcriptions were afterwards returned to the family. This collection was listed in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and assigned control number 79-646.
Historical Note: Mathew Damm was born on December 26, 1885. In 1898 he began working as a ranch hand for Pliny S. Richardson, a stockman whose 70L Ranch was located on the Powder River in the county of the same name in southeastern Montana. Sometime after 1908, Damm first attempted to homestead on a claim near Crow Creek, but after one year he sold his improvements to purchase those on another claim right on the Powder River between the present day towns of Broadus and Powderville. There he built a log cabin and began stocking his holdings with cattle. After proving up on his homestead claim in February, 1916, Damm married Pearl Hopkins on November 3. The couple had three sons, Stanley, Charles, and Lenn, who all worked on the family ranch while growing up. Mathew Damm died on May 17, 1966.
Content Description Note: The Mathew Damm diaries are actually photocopies of original transcriptions prepared by Damm during the years preceding his death. It was Damm's practice throughout his life to keep a diary in pocket memoranda books which he would later transcribe onto ruled notebook paper in a three ring binder. It is not known how thorough the transcriptions are, but the level of detail in any particular day's entries suggests that most of the information was faithfully copied. The diaries describe routine farm and ranch life, cattle, sheep, accidents, weather conditions, and interactions with many neighbors who are named. Although a continuous record, the diaries have significant gaps. Damm recorded few entries for 1916 and none at all for 1921, 1923, 1924, 1925, and 1943. Damm paginated his entire transcription, and did not necessarily start a new year's entries on a separate sheet, so the date divisions as recorded on the folder headings overlap by a few days in either direction.