Monday, April 15, 2013

Merrill Burlingame

Last week, Merrill G. Burlingame was inducted into the Gallery of Outstanding Montanans.

Merrill Burlingame's lifelong work and interest in Montana history earned him the nickname “Mr. Montana History.” In 1929 he joined the faculty of Montana State College (now Montana State University) and became chair of the history department in 1935, a position he held for 33 years. He wrote numerous works on Montana history, including The Montana Frontier, (1942); A History of Montana (with K. Ross Toole, 1956); and John M. Bozeman, Montana Trailmaker (1971). He also wrote texts pertaining to the history of Montana State University and researched local history related to Gallatin County. He was a founding member of the Gallatin County Historical Society and Pioneer Museum. In fact, Burlingame was keenly interested in museums and was the director of the Caroline McGill Museum which would later become the Museum of the Rockies. He also assisted in the reorganization of the Montana Historical Society where he was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1949 to 1978.

Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, 940-871
Throughout his life Burlingame was active in the Montana Institute of the Arts, the American Historical Society, the Christian Church, the masonic fraternity, and the Rotary Club. Merrill Burlingame died in Bozeman, Montana, on November 14, 1994, at the age of 93. His publications and the Merrill G. Burlingame Papers housed at the Montana State University Library special collections, as well as materials housed at the Montana Historical Society Research Center, continue to be an invaluable legacy as sources for scholars, students, and, researchers interested in Montana history.

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