Thursday, March 30, 2023

Author to speak about Chinese Montanans at museum

| March 15, 2023 12:00 AM

Northwest Montana History Museum will host author Mark T. Johnson on April 10 for a talk about the "Chinese experience" in Montana.

At one point the Chinese made up more than a tenth of the Montana territory’s population, but their stories were seldom told – until now.

Johnson, a professor at Notre Dame University who lives in Helena and grew up in Great Falls, was teaching in Shanghai when he learned of two collections of hundreds of documents – mostly in Chinese – at the Montana Historical Society. He assembled a 60-person multigenerational, international team of translators to discover the documents’ contents, research that would inform his book "The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana."

As Chinese Montanans navigated opportunities and ever-changing attitudes about immigration and Asians in particular, they learned to adapt and organize in their new environment. Johnson’s book, drawing on translated documents from the 1880s to the 1950s, tells of instances when Chinese immigrants displayed agency, persistence, and global knowledge in dealings at home and abroad.

The talk is from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 10. Free admission and books are available for purchase and signing.

Northwest Montana History Museum is located at 124 2nd Ave. E., Kalispell. Call 406-756-8381 or visit

More info about Johnson and his book is at

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