Creator: Heathcote, Lesley M., 1904-1997


Provenance Note: Research papers pertaining to the Montana State Arid Lands Commission created or collected by Lesley M. Heathcote were donated to Special Collections by her in 1964. Two additional files of correspondence, formerly assigned collection numbers 388 and 944, have been incorporated with this collection. This collection was also described in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections as accession number NUCMC 79-685.


Historical Note: : Lesley M. Heathcote (1904-1997) was the director of the Montana State University libraries from 1949 to 1970. Heathcote obtained her bachelor and master's degrees from the University of Alberta and the University of Washington. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Montana State University in 1981. During her career she actively worked to expand public and school library development, serving as president of the Montana Library Association and the Pacific Northwest Library Association, as well as editing Montana Libraries. Heathcote also contributed to the field of library science. She helped to develop elementary library science courses at Montana State and wrote articles in the library science field. In addition to her research and writing on library and information science, Heathcote also published a historical study on the Montana State Arid Land Grant Commission.

The Montana State Arid Land Grant Commission was established on March 18, 1895 as a result of the Carey Land Act. Western States were eligible to receive patent on up to 1,000,000 acres of land as long as it met certain provisions: reclamation must take place within ten years, no settler could buy more than 160 acres, and not less than 20 acres of each tract must be occupied and cultivated. One problem the state faced was actually reclaiming the land without obligating the state financially. The Commission was in operation for eight years, under two separate groups: first, from 1895 until replaced by Governor Robert Smith for political reasons in 1897; then from 1897 until they were terminated by the Legislature in 1903. The Commission set up four districts during its tenure: 1) Billings (Huntley); 2) Big Timber (Holland); 3) Bridger; and 4) Dearborn. A fifth on the Sun River was planned, but never got past the initial stages.

Content Description Note: The materials in this collection were used by Heathcote to prepare an article titled "The Montana Arid Land Grant Commission, 1895-1903," Agricultural History, vol 38 no 2 (April, 1964) pp. 108-117. The papers are a transcription of the documents held in collection RS 31, Montana State Arid Land Grant Commission Records 1895-1903 at the Montana Historical Society Research Center in Helena. The selection of records in this collection demonstrates Heathcote's research methodology. Although the transcriptions and photocopies gathered by Heathcote appear to be a nearly complete copy of originals held in RS 31, they do not provide the sole research support for her article. The minute book transcriptions in folders 10-25 and the transcribed minutes in folders 26-28 overlap somewhat in content, but they also offer differing detail and substance. It is recommended that the researcher use the two sets of folders in tandem to receive a complete picture of events. Stating that the "work of the Arid Land Grant Commission was a complete fiasco;" Heathcote's research discusses the inadequacy of reclamation law, poor choices made in selecting individuals to manage the project, and excessive value placed on land importance. The collection also includes two folders of correspondence dealing with Heathcote's work with the Montana Library Association, the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Bozeman Community Library Committee, and the promotion of the 1947 booklet Pioneer Stories by former Bozeman resident C. T. Stranahan.


Box 1
1. Letterpress Book-transcript
2. Letterpress Book-transcript
3. Letterpress Book-transcript
4. Letterpress Book-transcript
5. Letterpress Book-transcript
6. Letterpress Book-transcript
7. Letterpress Book-transcript
8. Letterpress Book-transcript
9. Letterpress Book-transcript
10. Minute Book-transcript
11. Minute Book-transcript
12. Minute Book-transcript
13. Minute Book-transcript
14. Minute Book-transcript
15. Minute Book-transcript
16. Minute Book-photocopy
17. Minute Book-photocopy
18. Minute Book-photocopy
19. Minute Book-photocopy
20. Minute Book-photocopy
21. Minute Book-photocopy
22. Minute Book-photocopy
23. Minute Book-photocopy
24. Minute Book-photocopy
25. Minute Book-photocopy
26. Minutes of Commission-different from Minute Book
27. Minutes of Commission-different from Minute Book
28. Minutes of Commission-different from Minute Book
29. District #1; Billings
30. District #1; Billings
31. District #1; Billings
32. District #1; Billings
33. District #1; Billings
34. District #1; Billings
35. District #1; Billings
36. District #1; Billings
37. District #1; Billings
38. District #1; Billings


Box 2
1. District #2; Big Timber
2. District #2; Big Timber
3. District #2; Big Timber
4. District #2; Big Timber
5. District #2; Big Timber
6. District #3; Carbon County
7. District #4; Dearborn Canal
8. District #4; Dearborn Canal
9. District #4; Dearborn Canal
10. District #4; Dearborn Canal
11. Boulder River Canal-Proposed
12. L. D. Beary
13. C. M. Brooks
14. Dearborn Canal Opening
15. W. S. Fortiner
16. Great Northern Railroad
17. Ella Knowles Haskell-Correspondence
18. F. E. Hoss-Correspondence
19. Northern Pacific-Correspondence
20. C. O. Reed-Correspondence
21. Miscellaneous Correspondence
22. Miscellaneous Correspondence
23. Miscellaneous Correspondence
24. District 2-Ephemera
25. Ephemera
26. Montana Library Association and other groups correspondence
27. Stranahan promotional correspondence

Updated: 8/7/09