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Collection 560 - Gallatin Farmers Alliance No. 4 of Montana Records, 1889-1892

Creator: Gallatin Farmers' Alliance No. 4 of Montana

Provenance Note: The records of the Gallatin Farmer's Alliance, No. 4 of Montana were withdrawn from the general collections of the Montana State University Library in 1967 and deposited in Special Collections.

Historical Note: In the 1880s local political action groups known as Farmers' Alliances sprang up among American farmers and ranchers who were discontented because of crop failures, falling prices, and poor marketing and credit facilities. At least two national organizations used the title to organize local groups, one a secret society headquartered in Washington, D.C. called the National Farmers' Alliance and Industrial Union. When this secret organization failed to merge with another more open in its organizational activities, the two became distinguished by the names "Southern Alliance" and "Northwestern Alliance" respectively. Neither of these organizations generally proved effective on a national political scale, and by 1892 they abandoned their activities to form the Populist, or People's, Party. In Bozeman, Montana, a group of local farmers gathered in the county courthouse on December 14, 1889 to establish a local chapter affiliated with the Southern Alliance. Eventually adopting the designation of Number 4, the Gallatin Farmers' Alliance adopted a constitution on January 11, 1890 with the following officers: A. L. Corbly, president; B.F. Bisel, vice president; White Caldwell, secretary. The Alliance met at regularly stated meetings, conducting such business as balloting on prospective members, discussing pending legislation pertaining to agriculture in both the national and state legislative bodies, and the cooperative purchasing of supplies. By the summer of 1892, the Alliance became somewhat inactive, and they may have abandoned their efforts sometime later that year. A later farmer's cooperative called the Gallatin Farmers' Alliance was formed in 1904 in Belgrade, Montana, for the purpose of erecting their own grain elevator, but its relationship with the earlier organization is unclear.

Content Description Note: The Gallatin Farmer's Alliance, No. 4 Montana records consist of a bound record book that includes information on the organization's initial efforts in formation, the Alliance's constitution and bylaws, and minutes of the meetings held in both the Gallatin County Court House and the Spieth and Krug Brewery from December 14, 1889 to July 9, 1892. Information includes the names of all members balloted and accepted for membership.

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Updated: 2/9/09