Exhibit: Swaney Family Papers

Alexandra M. Swaney

Swaney - Alexandra

       Born in 1944, Alexandra was raised, following her mother's death, by her maternal grandmother, Tina Buckneberg, and her father, Alexander. Shortly after her mother's death, Alexandra went to live with her grandmother.  Although not living together, her father wrote letters of love and encouragement to his young daughter.  



 Left: Alexandra behind the wheel. As a traveling musician, Alexandra spent a lot of time on the road.


Swaney  - Alex to Sandra

         Alexander devoted himself to instilling Mildred’s memory to his daughter. He created scrapbooks of her filled with photographs, samples of her writing, and news clippings of events she orchestrated.

Swaney - Mildred and Sandra Essay "Legend of The Sleeping Giant"

A mother and her daughter's writings, some 20 years apart.

Swaney - Cheap Cologne Album.

Album Cover, Cheap Cologne, n.d. 

       It seemed to have worked. In high school, she was part of a choir, like her mother, and had some interest in theater: she translated and played lead in the play “El Domingo Cuesta Cinco Pesos,” or “Sunday Costs 5 Pesos.” She was a member of numerous other clubs: Spanish, Latin, Rifle, and Exchange Club. She, like her mother, also graduated on the Honors Roll.

       Alexandra was a talented musician. Like her mother before her, Alexandra was proficient at the piano and keyboard. She played for two bands: Cheap Cologne, which had a vinyl record produced by Queen City Records, and the Jane Finnigan Quintet. In the 1980’s she attended CalArts to study music composition.

Left:  Album Cover, Cheap Cologne, Queen City Records, n.d.

      As a cultural anthropologist, Alexandra worked hard to preserve Montanan culture and lifeways, collaborating with the Montana Folklife Center to create collections and exhibits on the lifeways of Montanas peoples. These exhibits and projects include The Eddie Barbeau Project; Bridles, Bits, and Beads; and the D.W. Groethe Concert and Interview collection.     

      Alexandra remained active through her later years, horseback riding and traveling, but started to suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Her wife, Lillian Milchalsky, took care of her until her own death from pancreatic cancer in 2015. Alexandra passed away a few short years later, on December 1st, 2017.