Ruth Garfield was a ranching wife. Her husband had just been elected to a second term as sheriff of newly created Golden Valley County in 1920 when he was fatally shot. Mrs. Garfield set aside her grief to assist the community and serve out her husband’s term. She was Montana’s first female sheriff.
Stories like Ruth Garfield’s fill the pages of Beyond Schoolmarms and Madams: Montana Women’s Stories. The women featured here range from late nineteenth-century indigenous women warriors to twenty-first-century Blackfeet banker Elouise Cobell. They span geography—from the western Montana women who worked for the U.S. Forest Service to Miles City doctor Sadie Lindeberg. And they span ideology—from the members of the Montana Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, who led the fight for laws banning segregation in public accommodations, to the Women of the Ku Klux Klan. These stories matter; they are the stories of women who built Montana.
Editor Martha Kohl is a historical specialist at the Montana Historical Society. She served as project manager and lead historian for Montana: Stories of the Land, MHS’s award-winning middle-school Montana history textbook and for Women’s History Matters, a project designed to commemorate Montana’s 2014 suffrage centennial and to focus new attention on the state’s women’s history. Her book, I Do: A Cultural History of Montana Weddings,was published by the Montana Historical Society Press in 2011.