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Women in the Archives Research Guide

Small Business

Women were an important part of businesses throughout the American West. Whether they assisted their husbands in running the family farm or created their own small business, they influenced the course of commerce from the early 1800s through the present. Businesswomen in the early American West helped to stabilize a shaky economy both through their own businesses and through working with their husbands, sons, or friends. Although many cooperated with others, some had their own businesses as well.

Bozeman Business and Professional Women Records

The record deals with the activities of the club, including minutes, financial records, membership lists and directories, program schedules, officers rosters, reports, memos, notices, newspaper clippings, club programs and events, and correspondence. Focuses include professional and political women as well as issues of sex and gender.

Beryl Stith Papers, 1883-1963

The Stith Papers contain information about the Stith family as regards Beryl's research into the town of Terry for her historical account. Of note for business information are business communications and correspondence regarding her father John W. Stith's real estate, insurance, and hardware businesses. The collection also contains invoices, receipts, and letters regarding business.

H.H. Mitchell Family Papers, 1891-1951

Henry Herbert Mitchell and his wife Katherine ran his family's ranch between 1907 and 1941, when Henry died. At this time, Katherine took over the ranch and ran the business with her twin sister Josephine Sullivan until 1951, when it was purchased by Ralph Paugh. This collection contains business and ranch journals, cash ledgers, and business ledgers for the ranch.

Cassandra O. Phelps Papers, 1914-1945

The O'Phelps Papers contain a variety of material on various topics. Key to business among them is a scrapbook recording the National Cash Register's statements for an unknown business in 1914. In addition, there are articles on farm foreclosures, listings of the prices of horse-related equipment, and an account ledger for another unknown business.

Charlotte Stowe Autobiography

Along with other topics, the Stowe autobiography details Charlotte's travels and homes with her husband Edward and son Edward, Jr. She and her husband purchased and operated a hotel. The business flourished due to a housing shortage caused by the opening of  Montana State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, later to become Montana State University. 

Louisa Burton Ledger, 1889-95

Louisa Burton, a farmer on the edge of Bozeman, partnered with her son Granville King to run the Burton farm. She rented out pasture to local stockgrowers and sold her own garden produce. This ledger contains accounts of the horses and cattle pastured on the Burton farm as well as vegetable sales to Bozeman residents and brief household entries.

Hamilton, Ballinger, Davidson, Bunnell, McAfee, and Weesner Family Papers, 1764-1998

Within this massive collection, you can find business and legal documents relating to women's businesses. Included are estate documents for Esther Elizabeth and Esther Clorinda Bunnell, Lucy Ballinger Davidson's financial papers, financial papers of Emma Grote Davidson, and documents for Florence Hamilton's estate.