Times of Trouble, Times of Change: Montana and the Great War

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 to make the world “safe for democracy,” a conflict over American ideals erupted at home.

Many Montanans supported the war effort. They worked on farms, labored in mines, knit items for soldiers, and conserved food.

Patriotic fervor brough some communities together and tore others apart. Fear and suspicion seeped into daily life, while laws and mob action silenced dissent.

Montanans, including non-citizen Native Americans, served in the military in record numbers. Those who returned found their home communities struggling with influenza and drought.

During these trying times, Montanans grappled with questions that resonate today: 

What does it mean to be American?

What role do immigrants have in American society?

How much liberty should we sacrifice for security?

Which ideals are we fighting to protect? 


Exhibit written, designed, and built by Maggie Ordon based on Montana's Museum gallery exhibition of the same name. Gallery exhibition curated by Maggie Ordon and designed by Roberta Jones-Wallace, in consultation with Rich Aarstad, Martha Kohl, Deb Mitchell, Vic Reiman, Zoe Ann Stoltz, and Amanda Streeter Trum. Technical assistance provided by Natasha Hollenbach, with help from Diane Hall and Rennan Rieke. Item content uploaded by Jodie Foley, Natasha Hollenbach, Jeff Malcomson, Maggie Ordon, and Laura Tretter. Photographs of artifacts by Tom Ferris, with assistance from Kendra Newhall.