The history museum receives a donation from Tribune following the sale of a building

The elevator doors open to the top floor of the Great Falls History Museum, where overflows and large undisplayed items are stored, and an entire corner of the room was filled with newly acquired filing cabinets.

Executive director Kristi Scott opens a drawer full of photographs and pulls out one that featured in a story written in 1985.

“His name is Robert Warden, he was an editor at the time and he works with Joseph Kinsey Howard who was editor of The Leader in 1940,” Scott said. “And that was just opening a drawer.”

The history museum's executive director, Kristi Scott, holds a photo of Robert Warden and Joseph Kinsey Howard included in the Tribune files donation to the museum.

The history museum recently acquired more than 20 filing cabinets filled with newspaper files and several boxes containing photographs and photo negatives from the Tribune in a massive effort to preserve the archives after the sale of the Tribune building was finalized. and all that needed to be done.

Owen Robinson, who retired from the City Commission late last year and has continued to be involved with the museum, contacted publisher Grady Higgins nearly two years ago after the panel To sell was placed on the building.

“When I saw this sign, it was absolutely the first thing that came to mind, ‘Oh, I hope there’s a plan for the files over there,'” said Robinson.

Robinson coordinated with Higgins, who said at the time that it was too early and the files were still being used in some cases, but to stay in touch.

After the sale was finalized in November, as New City Church prepared to move into the space, there was only a brief window of time during which the museum could come in and take the records.

Robinson worked with five former Tribune reporters, including museum vice-chairman Peter Johnson, who knew where all the files were stored, what was important to preservation, and how they were sorted.

“The deadline was short, so at least we knew what we wanted,” he said.

Museum staff had to clear a large area on the third floor, which was no small task according to Robinson and Scott, where the records would eventually be stored.

The executive director of the History Museum, Kristi Scott, goes through the files donated by the Tribune.

Scott said it would take years and resources to figure out the filing system and catalog everything that is received as part of the donation.

“We have all the Tribunes of yesteryear and all of the Leaders of yesteryear, and you can get a lot of stuff online now from old newspapers, but that’s just history,” Robinson said. “It’s some of the background to the stories that isn’t in the stories, and so from the perspective of the researchers it was saved. It would have been lost now that it’s saved.

History museum executive director Kristi Scott holds up a card with background information on stories relating to the Great Falls Police Department in 1972.

Robinson said these files won’t be available to the public for a while, but the museum will work to have at least some of them available as soon as possible, but clarified that people can’t go back and dig into the files themselves.

Scott said people could ask what they would like to see and an archivist would find it and bring it out through their research center.

The museum applied for a state grant to help raise funds for improvements to better store historical artifacts, including those donated by the Tribune.

“I can’t thank Owen Robinson, Kristi Scott and everyone involved at the History Museum enough for this,” said editor Grady Higgins. “And I love that we also have former ‘Tribuners’ like Peter Johnson and Rich Ecke involved in the process. wouldn’t have been realistic for us to hang on all the historical material we had. And the museum has the experienced staff to take care of it and eventually make it presentable to the public for years to come. It was a win-win situation- win for all.

The Tribune will continue to search for new office space in Great Falls.