Schwinden Library & Archives and Joel F. Overholser Historical Research Center

The Schwinden Library and Archives
Joel F. Overholser Historical Research Center

The River & Plains Society’s Schwinden Library and Archives houses the Overholser Historical Research Center, a research center for historians, writers, students, and local history and family history researchers. The Center houses a substantial collection of unpublished archival records of individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and events. The manuscripts, documents, and photographs in the collection are important to each era in the history of Fort Benton, Chouteau County, the Upper Missouri River, and the Northern Great Plains. These eras include the following: Native Americans; the Fur Trade; Upper Missouri Steamboating; Overland Freighting; the Canadian Trade; Open Range Ranching; Homesteading; the Military; and the People of Fort Benton and Chouteau County.

Use of the Overholser Historical Research Center and Schwinden Library & Archives

The Center is open most Tuesdays from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and other times on an appointment basis. Confirm all times at (406) 622-5316 or Email the Archives and Library.

The Center is accessible to the public through indices and the help of the volunteer staff.

The staff is available to help you get started in your research. The staff will respond to mail or email queries to the extent time permits. If you need detailed research conducted for you, such services are available for a fee.

Photographic Archives Collection

  • Barrows Homesteading
  • Coburn Circle C Ranch
  • Dan Dutro Photographer
  • Lepley-Overholser Steamboats
  • Milner and Sullivan Ranch
  • Montana Farmer Stockman
  • River Press Historic Photographs
  • James Willard Schultz Photographs
  • Shep Photographs


Historical Archives

  • Agricultural Records
  • Choteau/Chouteau County Territorial and Statehood Historical Records (1864+)
  • Family and Regional Histories
  • Farm Machinery Manuals
  • Fort Benton Business Records
  • Fort Benton City Records
  • Homestead Plat Books
  • M. E. Milner and W. P. Sullivan Ranch Records (1876-1913)
  • Map Collection
  • Microfilm Historical Collection (including The Benton Record 1875-1884 and the Fort Benton River Press 1880-1974
  • Overholser Historical Research Card File
  • Overholser Historical Research Vertical Files
  • James Willard Schultz Society Collection
  • Upper Missouri River Steamboat Passengers 1859-1889 “The Robison-Wahlberg List”
  • Upper Missouri River Steamboat Registers(1870s-1880s)