Volume 3: Western United States
Montana: MT-22

Catholic Church. Diocese of Helena. Archives
515 North Ewing Street
P.O. Box 1729
Helena, MT: 59624

Phone: 406-389-7066


Hours: See website (Offices and Ministries)

Access: See website (Offices and Ministries: Archives: Accessing Archival Records)

Copying facilities: Yes


History: The Vicariate Apostolate of Nebraska was erected for Montana east of the Cascade Mountains and Wyoming, 1857-1884, and the Vicariate Apostolate of Idaho and Montana was erected for Idaho south of the 46th parallel and Montana west of the Cascade Mountains, 1858-1868. The Vicariate Apostolate of Idaho and Montana was expanded, 1868, to include all of Idaho and the Diocese of Helena was erected for all of present-day Montana, 1884. The Helena Diocese reported 9,000 baptized Native American Catholics, 1900, and the dioceses of Helena and Great Falls-Billings reported 7,000 and 12,000 respectively, 1999. Helena and its predecessors have administered the following Native missions, parishes, and schools in Montana:

1841-1891 (no longer Native)

St. Mary Mission and Academy (Salish), Stevensville/ Bitterroot Valley

1847-1853 (closed?)

St. Michael Chapel (Salish)

1859-1917 (closed)

St. Peter Mission (Assiniboine, Atsina, Crow, Siksika), Cascade/ Fort Shaw

1854 (relocated)-present

St. Ignatius Mission (Kalispel, Kootenai, Salish), St. Ignatius, Flathead Reservation  

1864-1962 (closed)

St Ignatius School (Kootenai, Salish), St. Ignatius, Flathead Reservation  

1864-ca. 1880 (closed)

Dolores Mission (Kalispel)

1864-ca. 1880 (closed)

St. Louis Mission (Kalispel) [Montana?]


Cootenay/ Courtenay’s Mission (Kootenai) 

1884-present (Helena, 1884-1904)

St. Labre School (Cheyenne, Crow), Ashland

1884-present (Helena, 1884-1904)

St. Paul Mission (Atsina, Assiniboine, Métis), Hays, Fort Belknap Reservation

1884-1931 (closed)

Holy Family Church (Siksika), Browning, Blackfoot Reservation

1887-present (Helena, 1887-1904)

St. Francis Xavier Mission (Crow), St. Xavier, Crow Reservation   

1887-1933 (closed) (Helena, 1887-1904)

St. Francis Xavier School (Crow), St. Xavier, Crow Reservation


St. John Berchman Mission (Salish), Jocko/ Arlee/ Jocko Valley, Flathead Reservation  

1889-1897 (closed)

St. John Berchman School (Salish), Jocko/ Arlee/ Jocko Valley, Flathead Reservation  

1890-1932 (closed)

Holy Family School (Siksika), Browning/ Birch Creek, Blackfeet Reservation

1890-present (Helena, 1890-1904)

St. Charles Mission (Crow), Pryor, Crow Reservation

1890-1898 (Helena, 1890-1904)

St. Charles Mission School (Crow) Pryor, Crow Reservation


St. Anne/ St. Peter Claver Church (Siksika), Heart Butte, Blackfeet Reservation


Church of the Little Flower (Siksika), Browning, Blackfeet Reservation


Immaculate Conception Mission (Kootenai, Salish), Polson, Flathead Reservation


Sacred Heart Mission (Kootenai, Salish), Ronan, Flathead Reservation

1912-1940 (closed)

St. Michael Church (Siksika), Browning, Blackfeet Reservation


St. Joseph Mission (Kootenai, Salish), Charlo, Flathead Reservation


Sacred Heart Mission (Salish), Arlee, Flathead Reservation


St. Mary Mission (Siksika), Babb, Blackfeet Reservation 


Holdings of Catholic records about Native Americans: 

Inclusive dates: 1877-ongoing

Volume: Ca. 3 cubic feet 

Description: 9 series include Native Catholic records:


/1 Bishops’ Papers

Inclusive dates: ca. 1883-ca. 1932 

Volume: Ca. .3 cubic foot

Description: Includes papers to 1962; unprocessed thereafter and not included: 

A. Bishop Jean-Baptiste Brondel (1841-1903), 1883-1903, approximately 25% of 1.4 cubic feet

B. Bishop John Patrick Carroll (1864-1925), 1904-1925, few items possible within 1.5 cubic feet

C. Bishop George Joseph Finnigan (1885-1932), Bishop, 1927-1932, few items within .4 cubic foot; includes address at St. Michael Mission, Browning, 1928


/2 Sacramental Records

Inclusive dates: 1877-ongoing

Volume: Ca. 10% of 1 volume and 52 reels of microfilm 

Description: Arranged alphabetically by parish location and there under by name; includes baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages, and burials for Native and non-Native parishes with attended Native missions and stations or at least a few Native entries; Siksika sacramental records

compiled by Robert C. Gilham, 2001, as the online Blackfeet Family History database,

A. Browning, Blackfoot Reservation, Church of the Little Flower, 1926-ongoing; Siksika baptismal and marriage entries compiled and translated by Robert C. Gilham, 2001; includes Babb, St. Mary Mission and Birch Creek, Birch Creek Mission

B. Browning, Sacred Heart Mission, 1926-ongoing

C. Browning, St. Michael Mission, 1912-1957; Siksika baptismal and marriage entries compiled and translated by Robert C. Gilham, 2001

D. Cascade/ Fort Shaw, St. Peter Mission, 1855-1905; includes 1 baptismal volume, 1859-1879; Siksika Indian to 1879; Siksika baptismal entries compiled and translated by Robert C. Gilham, 2001

E. Cut Bank, St. Margaret Mary Church, 1914-ongoing

F. Helena, Cathedral of St. Helena, 1864-ongoing

G. Helena, St. Joseph’s Orphanage, 1905-1963

H. Heart Butte/ Browning, Holy Family Mission, 1877-1931; Siksika baptismal and marriage entries compiled and translated by Robert C. Gilham, 2001

I. Heart Butte (Little Badger), St. Anne Church/ St. Peter Claver Church, 1891-ongoing

J. Missoula, Christ the King Church, 1865-ongoing

K. Polson, Immaculate Conception Church, 1923-ongoing

L. Ronan, Sacred Heart Church, 1919-ongoing; includes Charlo, St. Joseph Mission, 1918-1945

M. St. Ignatius, St. Ignatius Mission, 1874-ongoing; includes Arlee, Sacred Heart Mission and Jocko, St. John Berchman Mission

N. Stevensville/ Bitter Root Valley, St. Mary and St. Ignatius Missions, 1877-1937


/3 Photographs

Inclusive dates: 1941, 1944, undated (since 19th century)

Volume: Approximately 150 prints processed; oversize unprocessed and excluded

Description: Arranged alphabetically by location of parishes and there under by name; re: church buildings, clergy and/ or women religious with Native parishioners, and special events  

A. Browning, Church of the Little Flower, 1948, undated; re: includes 1948 ordination of Reverend John J. Brown, S.J. [Jesuits] (Siksika)

B. Heart Butte (Browning), Holy Family Mission, undated

C. St. Ignatius, St. Ignatius Mission, 1944, undated; re: includes 1944 centennial celebration

D. Stevensville, St. Mary Mission, 1941, undated; re: includes 1941 centennial celebration


/4 Scrapbooks 

Inclusive dates: 1938-1953, undated

Volume: 2 volumes 

Description: Clippings, pamphlets, and photographs; includes Atsina, Crow, Salish, Siksika, and Yakima Indians and special events at Holy Family, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Xavier, St. Ignatius, St. Labre, St. Mary, St. Paul, and St. Peter Missions. 


/5 Video Recordings

Inclusive dates: 2004 

Volume: 1 DVD disc

Description: St. Ignatius Mission, St. Ignatius. 


/6 Parish Records

Inclusive dates: 1930s-ongoing

Volume: Ca. 1 cubic foot

Description: Arranged alphabetically by parish location and there under by name; includes correspondence, annual reports, and commemorative books for Native parishes and/or attended Native missions and stations; records after 1975 are unprocessed and not included:  

A. Browning, St. Michael Church and Church of the Little Flower, .2 cubic foot

B. Heart Butte/ Browning, Holy Family Mission and Badger, St. Anne/ St. Peter Claver Church, .2 cubic foot

C. Polson, Immaculate Conception Church, .1 cubic foot

D. Ronan, Sacred Heart Church with Charlo, St. Joseph Mission, .1 cubic foot

E. St. Ignatius, St. Ignatius Mission with Arlee, Sacred Heart Mission and Jocko, St. John Berchman Mission, .1 cubic foot

F. Stevensville, St. Mary Mission, .2 cubic foot; includes 1941 centennial celebration


/7 Personnel Files

Inclusive dates: 1866-ongoing 

Volume: Several folders

Description: 1 folder/person arranged alphabetically; includes diocesan and religious clergy but not all religious clergy are included.   


/8 Religious Community Files 

Inclusive dates: 1864-ongoing 

Volume: Approximately .6 cubic foot  


A. Christian Brothers, Irish Province, 1923-ongoing, .1 cubic foot

B. Dominican Sisters, undated, .05 cubic foot

C. Jesuits, Oregon Province, 1970-ongoing, .1 cubic foot

D. Premonstratensians, De Pere, Wisconsin, 1914-ongoing, .05 cubic foot

E. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, 1869-ongoing, .2 cubic foot

F. Sisters of Charity of Providence, Seattle, Washington, 1864-ongoing, .05 cubic foot

G. Ursulines, 1884-ongoing, .1 cubic foot


/9 Diocesan Newspapers 

Inclusive dates: 1897-ongoing  

Volume: Several articles 

Description: The following diocesan newspapers have included articles on Native Americans and Catholic evangelization in the diocese: The Montana Catholic, 1897-1900s, The Catholic Bulletin, 1921-1932, The Register, 19321972, The WestMont Word, 1972-1985, and The Montana Catholic, 1985-ongoing, the latter of which has been archived online, 2004-ongoing.     


Unless otherwise noted, the repository on this page holds (or held) the records described here and they are not held at the Marquette University Archives.