Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

Museum and research center closed for renovations. For more info, call (406) 444-2694.

Montana: Stories of the Land

Companion Website and Online Teacher's Guide

Chapter 13 - Homesteading This Dry Land, 1905-1920

Educator Resources

Educational Trunks

  • Inside and Outside the Home: Homesteading in Montana 1900-1920 from the Montana Historical Society. This trunk focuses on the thousands of people who came to Montana's plains in the early 20th century in hopes of make a living through dry-land farming.

  • To Learn A New Way from the Montana Historical Society. Created by Salish educator Julie Cajune, this trunk explores the reservation, allotment, and boarding school periods as experienced by Montana Indians.


  • Inspired by reading specialist Tammy Elser, who was in turn inspired by SKC graduate Taylor Crawford, we've created a "Takeaway" bookmark for every chapter of Montana: Stories of the Land. Before starting a chapter, print and cut out these bookmarks and distribute them to your students. Ask them to use the Takeaway to summarize the GIST of what they learn from reading assigned sections of the chapter. Remind them that they don't have much room, so they'll need to think before they write down the most important idea they want to take away from the section. Learn a little more about the GIST strategy.

  • Even though we've created Takeaways for every chapter, we don't recommend you have your students complete a Takeaway for every section of every chapter they read. That would be exceedingly tedious. However, used appropriately, they can be a useful tool for encouraging reflection and teaching students how to summarize information.

Websites and Online Lesson Plans

  • The Lure of Free Land (Homesteading: A Pull Factor)" is a lesson plan originally published as part of the hands-on history footlocker "Coming to Montana: Immigrants from around the World." The lesson asks students to analyze a homesteading advertisement aimed at recruiting Poles to Montana and to read excerpts from a Danish homesteader's reminiscence before writing their own "letters home" describing their own imagined homesteading experience.

  • The Annotated Resource Set Homesteading This Dry Land, 1905-1920, includes links to photographs, maps, illustrations, and documents relating to Montana’s homesteading history. Many, but not all, of the images were also used to illustrate Chapter 13 of Montana: Stories of the Land. These sources can be used to build PowerPoints or to create DBQs or other primary-source based activities.

  • The National Archives has created this lesson on the 1862 Homestead Act.

  • Montana PBS created several lessons, designed to accompany the television series Frontier House, a reality television show that brought modern families to Nevada City, Montana, to simulate life on a nineteenth-century homestead. The lesson plans focus on westward migration, homesteading, and daily life in the 1880s for white settlers on the frontier.

  • The Homestead National Monument of America has created a rich variety of curriculum material.

  • If you know the names of homesteaders in your area (which you can probably find by looking in your county history book), you can research their homesteading patents - and often view copies of the actual documents granting them title.

  • The University of Montana Special Collections Library has created an online exhibit: Homesteading: The Dream and The Realities. The exhibit "American Land Rush: 'A Lonely Homesteader' Searches for Security in the Montana Homestead Boom" explores the experience of Lily Stearns, who settled with her four children on a promising homestead in northeastern Montana, only to find her fate conscribed by extreme weather and the limits of her endurance.

Videos or DVDs

Possible Fieldtrips: View the Map

Alignment to ELA Common Core Standards

Alignment to Content Standards and Essential Understandings Regarding Montana Indians (EU)

Tests and Answer Keys

Box Elder Irrigation District
Box Elder Irrigation District, 1922, photo by Walter Dean, Jr., Montana Historical Society Photo Archives PAc 76-26.462 1/2
Agriculture Painting
Agriculture, Marjorie Gieseker Goering, 1935, Montana Historical Society Museum
Two girls sitting with apples
Two girls in apples, Ravalli County Orchards, Montana Historical Society Photo Archives