Archives Policies

  • Archival material use is restricted to the Reading Room and is non-circulating. These materials require special handling and security.
  • Patrons will be asked to sign in and leave belongings in a locker. Records may be fragile and must not be marked, folded, written on top of, or leaned upon.
  • Please preserve any existing arrangement of materials. If they appear out of order, call this to the attention of the staff.
  • There is no charge for on-site users to conduct research.
  • Food and beverages are not permitted in the reading room.

As part of The History Museum, the mission of the Archival Research Center is to preserve historical documents and records considered important to the heritage of the central Montana area and to utilize those resources in providing educational and research opportunities to the public. Patrons wishing to visit the archives are urged to contact The History Museum prior to their visit.

Resources Available

Building and Site Research: Survey of original town site of Great Falls, surveys and nominations of Lower North Side Historic District, Railroad Historic District and Fairground Historic District, plus renovation information.

City of Great Falls and Cascade County Records: Include Civil and Criminal Court Records; Voter Registration; Land and Tax Records; Business Licenses; City scrapbooks; others.

Directories: Many city and business directories from 1887 to present for Great Falls and some smaller towns in Cascade County.

Homestead Records: Over 7,000 original land patent holders recorded alphabetically by name and legal description. Mapped by location.

Library: Local histories for Cascade County communities and surrounding areas. Regional historical fiction and nonfiction, period reference books and textbooks.

Manuscript Collections: Letters, diaries and other unpublished materials from individuals, businesses, and organizations preserved for research purposes. Finding aids available for most collections.

Maps: City, county, state, plat maps, blueprints, architectural drawings, mining and power lines. Sanborn Insurance maps for 1890, 1900 (with updates), 1929 (with updates) and 1956.

Naturalization Records: Declaration of Intention, Petition, and Citizenship papers for Cascade County residents from 1887 to 1966. Also available online for free at

Newspapers: Bound copies of the Great Falls Tribune (1893-1953), the Great Falls Leader (1888-1961), and Belt Valley Times (1893-1977), some missing). Various other local newspapers also available. *Bound newspapers will not be photocopied.

Oral Histories: Audio cassettes indexed by speaker name and subject.

Photographs: Approximately 50,000 photographic images dating from the 1860s to the present are cataloged and organized by subject. Subject strengths include the Anaconda Mining Company refinery, the WWII era Seventh Ferrying group, and agriculture.

Vertical Files: Extensive clippings, pamphlets, brochures, and ephemera organized by subject and name for Great Falls, Cascade County, and Montana.