Old Missoula

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

1873 - 1960 - Missoulian-Sentinel - A short history

E-mail Print PDF

The article below is from the Missoulian Sentinel Centennial Edition of 1960:

Missoulian-Sentinel, in Lee Group, Has 110 Full-Time Employes – **Photo Captions Included

Papers Grow Steadily Since 1873

There’s a new look on the Missoula scene as the Hell Gate-Missoula area starts its second hundred years.

It’s the bright new face of the Daily Missoulian and the Missoula Sentinel under the first new management since the 1920s when the Anaconda Co. acquired the dailies in Missoula, Butte, Helena, Billings and Livingston.

Rumor Confirmed

On June 1, 1959, what had been an exciting rumor for months was confirmed – the Lee Group of the Midwest had purchased the dailies in the five cities.

Friendly Lee executives from the Midwest papers visited the newly acquired news-gathering establishments in the Treasure State only to reassure their staffs that all personnel would continue on the job and that each paper would be responsible only to itself and to its community to produce the best newspapers possible.

No strings were attached – the editorial department was instructed to give the readers of the Western Montana trade area the most complete and unbiased news coverage within its power. As one Lee executive said, “We believe in printing the news of what has happened and what is likely to happen without slant or distortion, to cover the news of Montana in depth.”

Montana Organization

The two Missoula papers and the dailies in Butte, Billings, Helena and Livingston were formed into the Lee Newspapers of Montana with R. E. Morrison, longtime business manager of the Missoulian Publishing Co., becoming general manager of the Montana operation.

Don Anderson, native of Bozeman and publisher of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, Wis., is president of the Montana group.

Confident of the future of the Garden City and western Montana, the Missoulian and Sentinel enter the second century of progress for Missoula and vicinity growing steadily with the community and constantly expanding their staffs and facilities.

In 88th Year

The Missoulian, now in its 88th year of publication, and Sentinel have a full-time staff of 110 employes and an annual payroll of more than $500,000, providing one of the larger industries in the city.

The two Missoula dailies have experienced a steady growth in circulation. They had a circulation of less than 8,000 in 1933, and in the second half of 1960 it is climbing close to the 20,000 mark.

The combined circulation of the papers reached 13,300 in 1940, passed 15,000 in 1945, 17,000 in 1955, 18,000 in 1957 and crossed the 19,000-mark in April of 1959.

Slightly more than half of the circulation is in Missoula County with most of the rest in western Montana, some papers going to distant parts of the nation and the world.

Heaviest circulation outside Missoula County is in the five counties of Flathead, Lake, Mineral, Ravalli and Sanders.

The firm moved to its present location at the corner of Higgins avenue and East Spruce street in May of 1937, occupying one of the most modern publishing plants in the Northwest. In 1952, because of its constantly expanding business, an addition was constructed on the north side of the building.

The Missoulian started in 1873 in a small wooden building in the 100 block of West Main street, at one time occupied a brick building on the north side of the 100 block of West Main, but was in a two-story brick building on the south side of the street in that block for many years before the move in 1937.


This article is accompanied by 4 photos of employees which cover the period from 1912 to 1959. Their faces are probably recognizable for anyone who knew these employees. They are not identified in these photos. Well over 50 people appear in the last 3 photos while the 1912 photo has about 30 people.

A couple of things stand out. The 1912 photo has only 2 women, while the others have several more than that, but they are not a significant proportion until the 1960 photo.

Only two gentlemen appear to be wearing hats in the 1960 photo, while every one of them wears a hat in the 1912 and 1923 photos. The front row of the 1941 photo is all men with hats off and about ½ of the remaining men are now hatless. Almost every man wears a suit and tie in the 1912 and 1923 photos. Only a few men wear suits and ties in 1960.

Why is this significant? I don’t know, except it reminds me that fashion is pretty fickle and women are no longer second citizens.



There are 2 captions for these 4 photos – see below:

This Is Today’s Staff

Gathered in front of the Missoulian Publishing Co. plant at 502 N. Higgins Ave. are many of the present-day 110 full-time employes representing a $500,000 payroll in Missoula’s economy. This staff puts out the Daily Missoulian mornings Sunday through Friday, the Missoulian-Sentinel Saturday mornings and the Missoula Sentinel afternoons Monday through Friday.

Years Back

These three pictures show staffs of the Missoulian Publishing Co. of 1941, 1923 and 1912. Back in 1873 when the Weekly Missoulian got its start in wooden buildings in the 100 block on West Main street, the staff varied from one to a few persons.

There are 30 persons in the 1912 picture when the company was in the two story brick building in the 100 block on West Main, 67 in the 1923 picture at the same location and 74 in the 1941 picture taken at the location of the present plant in the 500 block of North Higgins avenue.


There were about 90 employes in 1941, compared with about 110 full-time employes now working for the Missoulian Publishing Co.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 August 2016 12:59