The Merrill G. Burlingame Archives and Special Collections serve Montana State University Library as the preferred repository for primary and secondary source material on specific topics related to Montana and the immediate geographical region, including the city of Bozeman, Gallatin County, the Yellowstone ecosystem and economic region, as well as the history and published record of the life of the University itself. Materials are acquired in varied formats and made available to support research and instruction in a wide range of areas and disciplines using the history and life of Montana and the Yellowstone region as a framework and focus. While use of these materials is encouraged, security and preservation issues may restrict some access and availability of materials. The goal for this segment of The Library's collections is to continue to build upon unique strengths, to develop other appropriate subject strengths as opportunities arise, and to provide selected current and retrospective Montana and regional resources that satisfy the instructional and research needs of the MSU community. The collecting levels expressed in this policy indicate the aspirations for the collections. Budgets, space, personnel, and other considerations may limit the attainment of these collection goals. 

The Merrill G. Burlingame Archives Special Collections are located on the second floor of Renne Library and include the Burton K. Wheeler reading room and adjacent closed stack and office areas. The criteria and collection levels for the subject segments of these collections take precedence over the other location considerations for materials in The Library. If the restricted access provided by Archives and Special Collections does not adequately meet client needs for a given title or type of information, duplication in another area of The Library's collections may be considered. When only one copy of an appropriate item is available and one or more of the following conditions, exist, the item will be located in Archives and Special Collections if:

  • Item is out-of-print or irreplaceable for other reasons 
  • Item required to maintain subject integrity and/or collection level for Archives and Special Collections 
  • Item is primary source material or unique 

These collections are managed by the faculty of Archives and Special Collections and department staff, in consultation with the Collection Development Librarian and within the parameters of this policy and available resources, for their development. The majority of materials contained in Archives and Special Collections are to be reflected in the general library catalog, but it is understood that additional description may be developed to provide access to materials that are not adequately indexed in this manner. 

Collaborative Collection Development 

The Montana Historical Society (MHS) has a legislative charge to collect, preserve, and make historic records available. Under the "Historic Records Network Agreement" and agreements made by the Committee for the Preservation of Montana History, MSU Library cooperates with MHS in these endeavors. MSU consults with MHS whenever primary source materials become available which do not fit theMSU collection policy goals, but which may be appropriate for addition to the Montana Historical Society's collections. Because MHS attempts to comprehensively collect literature by Montana authors when Montana is the primary setting or subject, MSU will only selectively acquire such materials to meet the needs of the University and the other criteria established for Archives and Special Collections. 

Based upon an agreement signed in 1990 by the Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and The Dean of the MSU Library, park officials contribute copies of appropriate documents and information concerning the park as these become available. The Head of Archives and Special Collections maintains sustained communication with park archivists and active involvement in the activities and records of the park. 

In addition to formal cooperative activities with the Montana Historical Society, MSU Library cooperates with and encourages collaborative collecting efforts with the Museum of the Rockies, the University of Montana, the Montana State Library, all TRAILS libraries, the Gallatin County Historical Museum, the Bozeman Public Library, and other local entities. 

Collection Responsibility 

MSU library faculty, with suggestions from other faculty and staff, identify and evaluate The Library's needs for information on Montana and related subjects for Archives and Special Collections. The faculty of Archives and Special Collections, in consultation with the Collection Development Librarian and within the parameters of this policy and existing budget resources, have responsibility for the development of Archives and Special Collections. Materials for these collections will be reviewed for acquisition, de-selection, or location changes in the same manner as other materials for The Library. Because of the unique nature of these collections, mending, preservation, and organization of materials will be done under the direction of the Head of Archives and Special Collections. 

General Criteria 

(1) Geographical Focus 

Except where noted, the geographical area to be considered is Montana as an entity, with specific emphasis upon Bozeman, Gallatin County, Yellowstone Gateway communities, and the Yellowstone eco-system region. 

(2) Subject or Topical Focus 

The primary collection emphasis for all segments of Archives and Special Collections is Montana history, politics, economy (especially as related to agriculture, the natural environment, water, and tourism), peoples (both native and immigrant), culture (especially art and architecture), natural resources (with a special emphasis on trout and salmon habitat, biology, and economic impact issues), environment, prominent personages, and Yellowstone National Park and its key topics and issues. 

(3) Time Period Covered 

Although the time period covered may be limited based upon a specific geographic or subject area, in general, the time period for Montana, Yellowstone National Park, and Indian tribes of Montana is pre-history to the present day. 

(4) Multiple Copies 

Archives and Special Collections will generally retain no more than one copy of a particular work. This policy will not prevent the retention of additional copies of a work in poor condition and in high demand, or copies of a work containing an author's signature, annotations, or some other acceptable distinctiveness. Materials located elsewhere in the MSU collections may also be duplicated in Archives and Special Collections. Such duplication may be considered for one of the following reasons if other general criteria are also met: 

  • To contribute to the subject integrity and/or level of comprehensiveness of a particular topic for the purpose of research and inquiry; 
  • To maintain the original and/or preferred format of an item; or, 
  • To preserve one copy of an item with historical significance. 
  • Decisions about multiple or duplicate copies for Special Collections will be made by the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with Archives and Special Collections faculty. 

(5) Language 

English is the primary and preferred language for Archives and Special Collections. Materials in other languages; primarily the languages of Montana Native American peoples, will be collected when appropriate or when a foreign language is the only option. 

Collection scope

(1) Collection Levels 

The Merrill G. Burlingame Archives and Special Collections are a series of research collections with varied constituencies. This Collection Development policy is based on the assumption that the collection areas of interest will be developed to support, at the minimum, advanced study adequate for honors undergraduates, graduate student instruction, and scholarly research or sustained independent study. Many topics are developed at even more extensive levels. The following definitions describe the collection code descriptors and goals used for Archives and Special Collections with the understanding that general reference and complementary materials may also be found in the regular library collections. 

3c = Advanced study level: 
Resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about all aspects of the topic...supports master's degree level programs as well as other specialized inquiries such as those of subject professionals within special libraries. 

4 = Research Level: 
Collection that contains the major published source materials required for doctoral study and independent research. . . ·older material is retained and systematically preserved to serve the needs of historical research. 

5 = Comprehensive level: 
Collection in a specifically defined field of knowledge that strives to be exhaustive in all applicable languages...older material is retained and systematically preserved to serve the needs of historical research. Such a collection may serve as a national or international resource. 

M = Maintenance: 
There are some segments of the Archives and Special Collections that have a collection level that can best be defined as one of maintenance. This level may be applied to subject collections which represent a substantial body of information, but which are not determined to be appropriate for active collecting efforts at MSU. Such collections may be maintained or evaluated for other action such as transfer to another institution, or withdrawal and disposal in another manner as circumstances and institutional needs change. Subjects or collections within Archives and special collections not otherwise given a collection goal level are presumed to have a goal of "M" and will be maintained but not developed further. 

(2) Format of Materials 

Unpublished, primary source material

  • Manuscripts/archives:The acquisition, processing, and preservation of manuscript and archival collections are three of the major goals of Archives and Special Collections. The following are some of the types of materials considered appropriate: congressional papers; personal correspondence and diaries; organizational records; financial records; and architectural drawings and specifications. 
  • Graphic and audiovisual materials:Such unpublished materials are an important part of Archives and Special Collections. Emphasis is placed upon graphic materials that support and complement the manuscript collections, The primary source materials to support the architectural history of Montana are blue prints, plans, specifications, and renderings. Such plans will be acquired, organized and made available in accordance with an agreement with the Montana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 
  • Photographic images:Collections that comprise exclusively photographic images are collected only if MSU is the subject, if the collection directly supports the University's teaching and research mission, or if such collections contribute to comprehensive subject segments of Archives and Special Collections. Preferably, photographic images that form part of a manuscript collection are maintained with that collection. MSU Library consults with the Museum of the Rockies and MHS when appropriate. Collections may be referred to other appropriate institutions.
  • Oral and/or video histories:Oral or video histories that support important subject segments will be added to the collections as primary source material on the same basis as manuscript materials. As primary source material, oral histories are consistent with comprehensive collections and are collected as part of such collections.

Government documents and records

Unpublished government records will be collected as primary source materials for those areas or subjects to be collected at the Comprehensive level (5) only.

Published, Secondary Source Material 

The acquisition of printed materials and the development of a research level secondary source collection is a major goal of Archives and Special Collections. The development of such a collection depends upon both purchases and gifts. It is the intent of this policy that the stated collection levels will be applied regardless of the means of acquisition.  

  • Newspapers:Current hard-copy newspapers for the major Montana cities are acquired by The Library as a part of the regular collections. With the exception of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, paper copies of newspapers for Gallatin County and Yellowstone National Park gateway communities are routed to Archives and Special Collections once they are no longer current. These are replaced by microform whenever possible. Territorial papers will be acquired in microformat when available. Microfilm and microfiche collections of newspapers and other serials will be stored and accessed through the Spain-Sedivy Resource Center on the lower level of Renne Library where equipment and personnel are available to assist patrons when the library is open.
  • Ephemeral materials:A significant effort will be made to acquire ephemeral materials for collections at the Research (4) or Comprehensive (5) levels. In addition to their general appropriateness for a subject, inclusion in the collections may depend upon physical size and format and the availability of resources to organize and preserve ephemeral items. 
  • Maps:The primary emphasis is upon historic maps of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Post-territorial maps illustrating the continued development of the state and its major urban areas will also be considered. Primary emphasis for the maps in Archives and Special Collections will be upon agriculture, tourism, water resources, Native Americans, and Gallatin County. 

(3) Subject Segments 

The following subject segments for Archives and Special Collections exist now or may be developed. The collection level indicators reflect the goal for each subject. Proposed new subject collections will be evaluated in terms of the scope and guidelines contained in this policy as well as the research and curricular interests of the institution. An appropriate collection level will be assigned to new segments based upon the advice of the Archives and Special Collections faculty and the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with the Dean of the Library. The above subject goals may be amended or new subjects included within the scope of Archives and Special Collections with the recommendation of the Archives and Special Collections faculty and the Collection Development Librarian in consultation with the Dean of the Library. 


Native peoples indigenous to the area now circumscribed by Montana Pre-Columbian (pre 1500 AD): Study (3C) 

Specific Tribes: Study (3C) 

  • Assiniboine - 1760 to present 
  • Atsina/Gros Vente - 1760 to present 
  • Piegan Blackfoot/Siksika - 1730 to present 
  • Northern Cheyenne - 1830 to present 
  • Crow/Absarokee - 1600 to present  
  • Flathead/Salish - 1500 to 1935  
  • Kalispel - 1500 to 1935 
  • Kootenai - 1500 to 1935 
  • Pend D'Oreille - 1500 to 1935 
  • Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribe - 1935 to present 
  • Nez Perce - 1600 to 1800, 1877 
  • Shoshone/Snake - 1600 to 1800 
  • Plains Cree - 1870 to present 
  • Chippewa - 1870 to present 
  • Little Shell/Metis - 1870 to present 
  • Sioux (Sisseton Wahpeton, Yanktonai) - 1865 to 1890 

Tribes for Yellowstone Park: Study (3C) 

  • Shoshone - 1500 to 1882 
  • Bannock - 1500 to I882 
  • Crow - 1600 to 1882 
  • Blackfoot - 1750 to 1870 
  • Nez Perce - 1877 


  • Territorial History: Study (3C)
  • State History (in general)
  • Politics and Government: Study (3C) 
  • Legislative/Legal Issues: Study (3C) 
  • Local Histories (outside of Gallatin County): Study (3C) 
  • Geology, Natural Resources, Archeology: Research (4) 
  • Agriculture (including forestry when appropriate): Comprehensive (5) 
  • Architecture: Research (4) 
  • Tourism: Research (4) 
  • Gallatin Valley: Research (4) 
  • Gallatin County: Research (4) 
  • Bozeman: Research (4) 
  • Gallatin Gateway (Salesville): Research (4) 
  • Yellowstone National Park: Comprehensive (5) 
  • Gateway Communities: Research (4) 
  • Gardiner: Research (4) 
  • West Yellowstone: Research (4) 
  • Cooke City: Research (4) 
  • Livingston (History): Research (4) 
  • Park County (History): Research (4)

Trout & Salmon Fish: Research (4)(emphasis on the Northern Rocky Mountain Region) 

  • History: Research (4) 
  • Biology & Ecology: Research (4) 
  • Economics & Tourism: Research (4) 
  • Techniques: Research (4) 

Important Personages (must also complement the above subject list)  

  • Burlingame, Merrill G.: Comprehensive (5) 
  • Burns, Conrad (Senatorial Term): Comprehensive (5) 
  • Haynes Family (see Yellowstone): Comprehensive (5)  
  • McGill, Carolyn: Research (4)
  • Marlenee, Ron (Congressional Term): Comprehensive (5)  
  • Rankin, Jeannette: Research (4) 
  • Schultz, James Willard: Research (4) 
  • Stegner, Wallace: Research (4) 
  • Wheeler, Burton K.: Comprehensive (5) 
  • Wilson, Milburn Lincoln: Comprehensive (5) 

Montana State University History & Publications: Comprehensive (5) 
(Does not include University records & files which are not the responsibility of the Library.)

(4) University History and Published Archives

The mission of the University Archives is to preserve and provide access to the publications of Montana State University as well as publications related to the history and life of the university. University publications, no matter the format, are housed and maintained by The Libraries within the regular stacks and within Special Collections. The Collection Development Librarian, in consultation with the Head of Archives and Special Collections, makes the decisions regarding the location of specific titles and publications. In general, titles published and distributed by the University such as the bulletins, yearbooks, and newsletters are designated as University Archives, while publications about the University but not published by the University are designated as part of Special Collections.  

Policy last updated November 2010; updates to job titles February 2022 


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