Old Missoula

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

1 Foreword to "The University of Montana: A History" by H. G. Merriam

E-mail Print PDF

Below is the foreword by Norman Taylor as it appears in The University of Montana – A History, written by H. G. Merriam and published by the University of Montana Press in 1970. The book presents a history of the University of Montana by examining the term of each president as he held the position, beginning with Dr. Oscar J. Craig in 1895 and ending with Robert T. Pantzer, who took the position in 1966. The material presented in Dr. Merriam’s book not only has a unique value as the University’s history, but it also sheds light on the history of the city of Missoula, the surrounding area, and the State.

Also, below I have included excerpts from the early period (beginning with Dr. Craig in 1895) in the hope that the book’s historical value is not forgotten. The University survived some very difficult years and went on to thrive even when its very existence was threatened by the machinations of hostile groups both at home and throughout the state. More than anyone else, the institution could not have survived without extremely dedicated men and women like Dr. Merriam who labored there decade after decade.



Anticipating a variety of activities which would celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the University (1893-1968), President Pantzer observed that few people knew much about the institution – at least not the full scope of events that would make the anniversary meaningful and significant to them. Responding to his initiative, the University of Montana Foundation Board unanimously endorsed a proposal to commission a manuscript which would tell the story of the institution.

For this important assignment, Emeritus Professor Harold G. Merriam was selected. Dr. Merriam was first appointed to the faculty as Professor and Chairman of the English department in 1919. A graduate of the Universities of Wyoming, Oxford (England), and Columbia, he had been a Rhodes Scholar and taught at Whitman, Beloit and Reed Colleges and the Universities of Oregon and Colorado. Professor Merriam was uniquely qualified to carry out his assignment. He was (and is) an active participant in the events of the University even past his retirement in 1954. As scholar and teacher he championed many causes which now can be viewed as enlightened progress; he was a maker, as well as presently a writer, of the University’s history.

Most people would quail if asked to take on such a difficult task. The complete story could not, and perhaps should not, be told. For some readers, a favorite person or event or period may seem neglected, or prominence given to undeserving aspects. Brilliant perspective and insight to one group of readers will appear to others as prejudice or insensitivity.

Of necessity, the story must be selective but yet representative. In this regard, we are pleased that in the pages which follow, Dr. Merriam has been conscientious and fair-minded and still has managed to present a thoroughly readable work. His determined review of the minutes of the relevant organizations, ad hoc reports, catalogs, University publications, theses, personal, institutional and newspaper files, and many other sources demonstrated an enormous dedication and scholarship. He has also talked with many of the principals who played a role in the incidents cited.

Out of this herculean effort there emerges a faithful and relevant record which has the added merits of being both sympathetic and lively. We are all most grateful.

Missoula                Norman Taylor
November, 1969      Director of Research

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 September 2015 21:30