Whats New


The Brown Bag Lunch series is held during the noon hour on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month and features speakers throughout the community on a variety of history-related topics. Guests are encouraged to bring their sack lunches as they learn a bit of history!

APRIL 23: Olivia Everett of the Imagine Butte Resource Center will discuss landscape-based artist residencies.

MAY 14: Glen Brackett and Bob Lienemann will do a presentation of the history of fishing in Montana. A big part of that will be on the early battles for public stream access.

June 21: Opening of the Lebanese Exhibit.


The collection contains about 15,000 negatives documenting Butte's rich history. The Archives will be the permanent, publicly accessible home for the photographs and negatives. C. Owen Smithers, Sr., was one of Montana's most prestigious professional photographers. Born in Kalispell, Smithers came to Butte in the 1920s. He captured fleeting moments of bustling Butte life. For 50 years he documented historical events with his camera: Butte sporting events and banquets, breweries and bars, mortuaries and gas stations, rodeos and roller coasters and presidents and paupers, among other events and personalities. The collection includes images of house fires, mining operations, the city’s ever-evolving streetscapes and historical pieces of Butte that have long been lost to time. The Smithers photographic collection is unparalleled in scope. Over the next year, the Archives will catalogue, preserve and digitalize the collection so it can be made available to the community, scholars and historians.




Our free Catalog of Collections provides information on the thousands of documents, photos, and other items stored in our Archives. The Catalog describes what we have on particular subjects and allows researchers to survey what they want to review before visiting our facility or requesting our assistance.


Information from the following records and resources can be accessed for a fee: the five major cemeteries located in the county, immigration and naturalization documents, mine fatality records, mortuary records, obituary indices, delayed birth certificates, pauper applications, and mother/widow pension applications. Newly added are Building and Improvement Permits and Conditional Bills of Sale. We are just beginning data entry of these records and will add them to the website on a continuing basis. We currently have 20 databases on the website and will be adding more. We also provide access to a Chronology of Butte history that provides a list of significant events in Butte history from 1862 to 1986. The chronology is searchable by keyword or by year.


Our bookstore features publications on Butte and Montana history, some of which are unique and cannot be found elsewhere. We also offer copper coins and bars designed especially for the Friends of the Butte Archives, Butte-related CDs and DVDs, and other items that have a relationship to Butte's rich history. All profits go to the Friends of the Butte Archives, our non-profit fundraising organization.