Transcription of 34 years of Cameron Diaries completed and on display

By Alice Pehl
Prairie County Museum

  The Evelyn Cameron photographs of 1894 to 1928 are a notable part of our country’s history. The have put Terry on the map with their unique character and quality. What is less known is the story that Cameron wrote in the form of daily journals that she kept for 34 years. Within the small space of a 5x7 page she recorded first the weather, then some outside chores, then breakfast-usually including the menu in detail, housekeeping and the day’s other activities. There are detailed notes about animal care, gardening, wood chopping, traveling, visitors, and of course about taking developing and printing her pictures in her small work space.

Her handwriting was good, but because of limited space she used many abbreviations and shortened sentences to record as much of the day’s activities as she could on that single dated page. On several days of each month the lines were doubled when she’d go back  to the top of the page and write between each finished line and around the borders.
Our local historian, Wynona Breen, realized the value in transcribing these diaries into more legible pages for the public to enjoy and made it her goal to work and finish this project as timely as possible. This huge  job was done in about 3 years.
The orignal journals are stored with the Montana Historical Society in Helena for safe keeping, and they provided photo copies to Mrs. Breen so she  and her helpers could transcribe them into book form. There are now two large ring binders for each of the 34 years, one holding copies of the original journal pages and the second has the typewritten pages for the public to read.
The Evelyn Cameron Gallery in Terry is proud to have their copies displayed in their inside room and available for the public to read during regular museum hours and also on call. A second set is with the Evelyn Cameron Heritage, Inc. and the third is stored with the Montana Historical Society.
The Prairie County Museum Board wants to thank Wynona Breen and her dedicated crew for the outstanding work they have done in presenting and preserving this remarkable Montana pioneer story. A dedication ceremony is planned for sometime later this year.

Published June 29, 2011

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