The Collections Department of the Montana Military Museum is currently in what may best be described as a restructuring mode. Early in 2012 we lost long-time Curator of Collections Ed “Pappy” Morrow, a dedicated friend of the Museum and repository of irreplaceable institutional knowledge. Thus we are inventorying our collection and updating our museum database software, PastPerfect™, to ensure we can share information with museums world-wide.
To ensure that the thousands of photographic prints, negatives and slides in our collection, some dating back well into the nineteenth century, are not slowly lost to the ravages of time we are planning the implementation of a digital preservation process. This includes not only still photos but a great number of 8 and16 m.m. movie film as well as various formats of analog video tape and still and video from more recent conflicts that were produced in digital format.
Preserving these vignettes of history is only worthwhile however, if they are also made available for research and/or reproduction whether by students, amateur and professional historians or someone who wants a visual connection to the military service of a relative or friend. To that end our goal is to make our collection of images, still and moving, available to the widest possible audience on line as they are digitized. We know this will not happen overnight, there will be bumps in the road beyond the mechanical processes of taking inventory and scanning, but it will be a labor of love.
As a volunteer group, we are here because we want to be, because we are fascinated by one or more aspects surrounding the military history of Montana. Montana, whose people have given so much in the service of the United States, including the people of the sovereign Native American Nations encompassed within her boundaries, and the members of the joint Canadian/American First Special Service Force that formed and trained here at Fort Harrison, many of whom returned to Helena following their storied service in WWII and who became the progenitors of our modern special operations forces.