The Extreme History Project is a public history organization whose mission is to facilitate building bridges between communities by exploring their shared histories.
Who They Are
There is always more to the story and a story behind everything. That’s what history is all about. It is a constant discovery of people, places, events, words, articles, scandals, ventures, changes, moments and movements. And sometimes, it’s not very pretty. There are countless stories that have still not been told, sometimes because we don’t want to hear them. There are also countless things that have been unearthed, but that have simply not been shared.
Thankfully, there are organizations like the Extreme History Project (EHP) who seek to fill in these gaps, to stoke the fires of discovery, and to shed light on all of the unheard yet vitally important stories. The EHP began in 2008 when Marsha Fulton and Crystal Alegria met and began researching the history of Fort Parker, the first Crow Indian Agency located near Livingston, MT. As they were working on this project, which involves history that is largely unknown, locally relevant, and not always very pretty, Marsha and Crystal formulated the idea for the EHP. Crystal explains that the EHP is meant to engage people with history – something that everyone loves in one form or another – by making it relevant, fun, and interactive. Not only so, but its purpose is to call attention to the histories that nobody wants to think about or deal with. Since that fateful meeting, the founders of the EHP have done just that.
What They Do
In an effort to bring history to the public, the EHP has established a few key programs which include their lecture series and historic walking tours. Partnering with the Museum of the Rockies, they organize monthly lectures, bringing in scholars and speakers from all over the nation to present on a variety of history topics. While there are constantly people making enlightening discoveries and discussing fascinating topics, these conversations are often happening in small circles. Therefore, the EHP is bringing those topics and discussions to the public through their lecture series.
The second major program the EHP organizes for the public are the historic walking tours that take place every summer, beginning at the end of May. Initially, the EHP was approached by the city, who was often asked if they provided walking tours, to consider providing such a service. From this prompting grew a vibrant and successful program which now includes a variety of fun, themed tours all over Bozeman. They include Murders, Madams, and Mediums – a darker tour with an emphasis on women and their historic roles in society, Gracious Gables – a tour of the beautiful historic homes along South Willson Avenue, and others. This summer they will be debuting a tour called Distilling the Past: Bozeman’s Drinking History, which will recount Bozeman’s early saloon days and pay homage to the local agricultural history as hops and beer brewing played an important role.
In addition to a new walking tour, the EHP will also be hosting three new workshops. The first one, called “If These Walls Could Talk,” is on May 19th and will teach people how to dig into the histories of historic buildings such as the Emerson. Participants will learn how to conduct their own research and utilize archives. The second one on August 25th will provide people with the tools to research their genealogies, an increasingly popular venture. The last workshop will be in September and will provide participants with the opportunity to research a special topic of interest to them using Montana State University’s extensive library collection.
As a small organization it can be difficult to operate on project-based funds alone, which is why the general support grant they received from the Bozeman Area Community Foundation was instrumental in supporting their day-to-day work and helping their programs to thrive. What started out as one conversation between two historians has turned into countless conversations between people from all kinds of backgrounds. By connecting the past to the present, we can better understand our world, the perspectives we take, and the decisions we make. History may not be pretty, but as Crystal points out, it can be a relevant and useful tool for navigating the world we live in today.
If you are a history buff or want to get involved with the Extreme History Project, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and check out their website at www.extremehistoryproject.org. To learn more about the historic walking tours which are quickly approaching, go to www.adventurethroughtime.org.