HELENA – Montana: The Magazine of Western History celebrates 68 years in print in February.
It was started in 1951 by then-Montana Historical Society Director K. Ross Toole, who had a vision of bringing the state’s history to the people.
Now, nearly 7 decades later, and with a new editor at the helm, the magazine is looking to the future, continuing to bring history to life through expert research, writing and imagery.
“It is an academic resource that is used by historians, scholars, specialists in particular fields and schools,” says Laura Ferguson, Associate Editor.
How it’s presented makes it of interest to thousands.
“Anybody who’s interested in Montana or history in general can pick it up and will find something interesting,” adds Editor Diana DiStefano.
DiStefano became editor of the magazine about seven months ago.
In looking ahead to its future, she plans to continue telling many of the stories readers have come to enjoy, while expanding to focus on some that have gone untold.
“I hope all Montanans and all Westerners can find stories and histories in the magazine that appeal to them,” says DiStefano.
Though the passage of time has changed the publishing industry for some – Montana The Magazine of Western History continues in print.
“People like having it in print,” says Ferguson. “They like being able to buy it on the newsstand, we sell a lot of them in our bookstore, people who are travelling and visiting Montana like to pick up a copy of the magazine.”
Yet they do have a digital presence, including on Facebook.
“Which is something fun because otherwise we don’t get to see how people respond and react unless they write us a letter,” says Ferguson. “But on Facebook it’s right there and they comment on articles and bring up their own stories related to the articles.
DiStefano would like to see more of that interaction.
They’re starting to include commentary in the magazine and look forward to the discussions to come.
“My goal is always to not just have passive readers, but to have readers who can be engaged. So I’d like to hopefully start conversations about history and how we tell history and how we do research and why history is relevant,” says DiStefano.
DiStefano and Ferguson say the magazine is unique in that it is part of the Historical Society. Other similar publications are often associated with universities.
Subscriptions are included with membership to the Historical Society or can be purchased on their own.
Reporting by Melissa Jensen for MTN News