Creator: Fortin, Henry O.

Provenance Note: An original scrapbook created by Henry O. Fortin was donated to Montana State University by Christopher Livingston of Bozeman, Montana on October 29, 2013.

Historical Note: Henry Octave Fortin was born in Mills Springs, Montana, northeast of the town of Eureka, on July 30, 1900. He attended Flathead County High School, Gonzaga University, and Montana State University (presently the University of Montana) in Missoula where he participated in the Student Army Training Corps in 1918. On September 27, 1919, Fortin transferred Montana State College (presently Montana State University) in Bozeman. While attending MSC, Fortin was an enthusiastic member of the Omega Beta fraternity, an independent Greek letter organization founded in Bozeman in 1915. His nickname in the group was "Shorty," and he remained a member until he graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1925. Fortin joined the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey as a Deck Officer July 26, 1926 and served for 34 years. Attaining the rank of captain, he was the commanding officer of the LESTER JONES, the BOWEN, and the GILBERT. After his retirement in 1958 he made his home in Bellevue, Washington where he died on May 8, 1979.

Content Description Note: The Henry O. Fortin scrapbook contains dance cards, theater programs, sporting event programs, ticket stubs, "spirit" ribbons, and objects such as a beanie, pocket handkerchiefs, and a hat cord, most collected by him while he was a student at Montana State College. Several pages of signatures and brief testimonial comments from fellow USGS workers from 1926 through 1930 are included. Most of the material relates directly to Fortin's student years, although some items were collected when he was in California following his 1925 graduation. Among the student material ephemera from the Omega Beta fraternity is especially prevalent. The scrapbook also contains a few letters, including one personally signed by then U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and another by U.S. Congressman John M. Evans. A student essay based Fortin's personal experience growing up in rural Montana, "The Hunt," is pasted into the scrapbook. (A more comprehensive autobiographical essay describing Fortin's early life is held by the University of Montana Archives and Special Collections in Missoula.)

Updated: 10/30/13