Oral history interview with Michael Stephen Kennedy, 1965 Nov. 26

Kennedy, Michael Stephen , b. 1912 d. 1993
Designer
Active in Helena, Mont.

Size: Sound recording: 1 sound file digital, wav file
Transcript: 19 p.

Format: An unrelated interview of Irvin Shope conducted by B. Hoag is also on this tape.

Collection Summary: An interview of Michael Stephen Kennedy conducted 1965 Nov. 26, by Betty Hoag, for the Archives of American Art New Deal and the Arts Project.

Biographical/Historical Note: Michael Stephen Kennedy (1912-1993) was a designer from Helena, Mont.

This interview conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.

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  • The transcript of this interview is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Michael Stephen Kennedy, 1965 Nov. 26, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
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Interview Transcript

This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Michael Stephen Kennedy, 1965 Nov. 26, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL S. KENNEDY
HELENA, MONTANA
NOVEMBER 26, 1965
INTERVIEWED BY BETTY L. HOAG

BH: BETTY HOAG
MK: MICHAEL KENNEDY

BH: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on November 26, 1965, interviewing Michael Stephen Kennedy in Helena, Montana. Mr. Kennedy was Head of the Writers' Project for the State of Montana and I'm going to ask him about that as well as associations he remembers with the artists who were on the project for Frank Stevens. Mr. Kennedy, would you first tell me if I'm spelling your name right. M I C H A E L?

MK: Right.

BH: S T E P H E N

MK: Right.

BH: K E N N E D Y.

MK: Correct.

BH: And before we talk about any of this I would like to ask you a little about yourself -- will you tell me where you were born and when you were educated?

MK: Yes Mam. I was born at Belt, Montana, Cascade Country, July 21, 1912. My parents and my grandparents were pioneers of territorial days. I was educated in the public schools at Belt in the University of Montana, graduating in journalism in 1933, then subsequently much later in life I got a Masters Degree from Northwestern in magazine journalism in 1952.

BH: Mr. Kennedy is the Director of the Montana Historical Society and I can understand with that background why you are and it's a thrilling thing to be a Montana pioneer and to be able to bring out the wonderful magazine that you do and beckon all of us interested in Montana. You've done so wonderfully here.

MK: The truth is, of course, that I backed into this. All of my background until I came to the historical Society is journalistic, but actually from high school days on I had an interest in history and I had done quite a bit of historical research and writing of a journalistic nature.

BH: Was this for magazines, or did you write for books -- what kind of thing -- ?

MK: No. No. I've never done a book; and no magazine writing, actually newspaper writing, newspaper feature writing and in the time I got out of college, 1933, I was the only person in my class to even find a job because we were in the depths of the depression. I was lucky enough to go to work for the Civilian Conservation Corp. editing a new magazine that they were putting out, a little news sheet really for the camps in District No. 1 out of Mazoola, which was the largest forrest district in the United States. I can't remember how many youngsters there were, but there were an endless number and we mimeographed this and wrote it as a morale builder for the youngsters. The year following that I -- Tom Spaulding who had been Dean of the School of Forestry and whom I had known through my undergraduate years at the university, asked me to come over and work in public relations and the press information for him. He had just become Director of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration -- ah, let's see that was in '34; by '35 I believe the WPA had been created and I handled public relations for both the National Youth Administration as well as the WPA working under the Assistant Director, Mr. Walter Fowler.

BH: Pardon me, where were your headquarters?

MK: The headquarters by that time were here in Helena. Then if I'm not mistaken it was in 1937 that I was called in by the Director of WPA, Mr. Joseph Parker of Butte, and informed me that they were quite unhappy with the Federal Writers Project, that it had not been producing and asked if I would give some consideration to taking over. They were at that time headquartered in Mazoola in conjunction with the University of Montana. I agreed and went over there at the time when their first book, The State Guide, The Montana State Guide, which had been languishing was still not up quite at press, although actually all of the basic work had been done on it, and it was pretty well along toward editing.

BH: Excuse me, about how many people had worked on it up until that time, do you know?

MK: My recollections were that they hadn't done the kind of job they should've done in hiring people which, of course, was one of the basic premises of the WPA, to put in this case, to put journalists, librarians, writers, professional writers and others to work in their own advocation. And I think that was not only that their production was terribly slow, but that they weren't employing the number of people that they should.

BH: Did having it at the university have anything to do with the people administrating it at that time -- that it related to the teacher -- ?

MK: No. Actually my recollection I think there was simply that the man who had been director, Mr. Clarion Royce, may or may not have had some type of tenure at the University -- I can't remember. I think it was basically or probably to utilize their historical collection and their library facilities; and since the Guide touched on every facet of Montana life -- like for instance there was a wonderful old professor at the University who had written several books on geography and place names -- that's just one instance -- and then of course the various department heads were familiar in different categories all of which was covered under the State Guide, so I presume that was why they were there. Then, my recollection is that we found, however, that it was not so practical to have it located in there. I believe I stayed in Mazoola for about a year. In the meantime re-organized it more on a newspaper basis, where out -- we would have people in the field reporting in on various categories of work that we were interested in; then have editors assigned to them as a copy desk would do in a newspaper and then as the copy became refined and moved toward the part of the portion of the finished book, why myself and a couple of senior editors would do the final editing, and writing and by time we had -- we were critically aware of the fact that the largest number of unemployed in the entire state were in Butte; also that there were more talented people fitting our pattern in Butte; so along the line I came up with the idea of doing a book on Butte which ultimately appeared and was published Hastings House, under the title of COPPER CAMP -- a copper camp that became very much a project and justified the move to Butte, plus the fact that there adequate space there in the old Butte High School building, which had been vacated -- rent-free space, I'm quite sure.

BH: I'll bet you weren't up on the third floor, that was about the great (brave) vale in those days.

MK: I believe we probably were. I can't remember, but it was the hugh building as you well know.

BH: Yes.

MK: But by that time, I think that part of that -- had met Frank Stephens, but we became much more closely associated being geographically in the same place because the Federal Art Project, I believe in its entire tour of existence, was headquartered in Butte.

BH: Yes.

MK: And quickly we could see the possibility of not only -- because among other things we were doing a three-volume history of the livestock industry --

BH: You were?

MK: -- which unfortunately was never published -- never quite completed --

BH: Excuse me, did Bob Fletcher help on that, because he wrote a history of Kansas, didn't he?

MK: No. No. This was -- this -- as a matter of fact what we did gather even on the first volume was very useful to Bob Fletcher when he later did his story. We envisioned among other things books that would give employment and serve a real purpose because there was no history in existence of out major Indian tribes; therefore we planned a tribe -- we planned a book on each of the tribes in Montana, numbering about nine.

BH: Oh, wouldn't that have been great!

MK: But, we were quite well along. Now we had to pick of course what we would do, in some cases it was specifically a history, we found on the Blackfeet Reservation -- for instance that we couldn't get the type of writing talent that we wanted, but we found a woman who combined enough skill, was a marvelous interpreter, could talk to the old people and her field of interest was primarily medicine lodge bundles, medicine bundles and medicine lodge stories of the Blackfeet Indian -- Oh we could see this both as an adult and a child's book. And she had, and she was facile enough to also do drawings of all the various and understand the significance which a white person, even a talented -- even more anthropologically trained wouldn't understand. So we used her talent. Now down on the Crow Indian Reservation, for instance, we had an elderly man named Hogan and another lady whose name I think I've forgotten -- Minnie Williams I believe, a part-blood --

BH: Nettie Williams?

MK: Minnie.

BH: Oh, Minnie, aha.

MK: They -- was a matter of their what one couldn't do, the other could do and we were proceeding there to write a full-fledged history of the Crow. What we were terribly fortunate was that on the Flathead Reservation we had a man who actually had both newspaper and writing experience -- quite an elderly man, but eligible and --

BH: Do you remember his name at all?

MK: I can't remember at the moment, it might come back to me -- his problem was that he was so meticulous he wanted to do this so thoroughly and of course the pressure was on because as you'll shortly see that we probably were a little bit too ambitious -- we had entered too many things to counteract what the project had done for three or four years previously inspending all their time on one book -- we were trying to do 20 or 30 books. And our livestock history, of course, was going on -- where it overlapped where we were near a reservation, our people researching on the Indians would also provide with basic source material relating to livestock. We were very fortunate on the Fort Techey Indian Reservation to have a gentlemen named James Long --

BH: What Indian Tribe was that?

MK: Well that was a Sinaboyne and Sieux and we had an artist who named William Standing, whose Indiana name was First Boy who was tremendously talented and that's when Mr. Stephen's and I found that we could collaborate so beautifully on -- because here we had a case of a part-blood Indian who could interpret from the oldest members of the tribe their stories, their legends, their history -- everything about their tribe -- and some of it going back almost prior to any white man's existence in the region. Then here was a son of a once first chief, the grandson, rather of a first chief with him standing of the Sinceboyne of him ever going back to Washington in the 1830's and so we had a marvelous combination and from that emerged a book that was published before I went into the Army known as This Land of Dakota, which has since been republished with a new introduction -- written by myself by the University of Oklahoma Press.

BH: Excuse me, was that two years ago?

MK: Yes. Roughly.

BH: That isn't a paperback by any chance is it?

MK: No. It's a hard cover book.

BH: And you wouldn't loan me a copy -- I was very eager to see it.

MK: Well yes, you're welcome to see mine.

BH: I'd loved to.

MK: I'm rambling now, so --

BH: Well great, I have just one question before we ramble on. Do you remember the Blackfoot Indian woman who collected the medic -- or studied --

MK: Oh yes, Cecelia Blackboy --

BH: Blackboy.

MK: Yeah. And the man on the Flathead name was Bond Wheldeon -- but it seems to me we also had a man named Johnson -- I can't remember his first name. I think at one time -- many times, you know, there were all kinds of problems involved here -- because some of these people would be eligible for awhile and then they wouldn't be eligible, or we had nothing to do with that -- we simply they told us that they had somebody employable in the region -- we would look over their qualifications and see if we could fir them in the pattern. And then of course in the maze of red tape, there were times when they'd tell us to expand -- to add ten people and within a month or two, then they'd tell us that we would have to cut down by 20 people -- so I mean --

BH: It must have been terrible to organize or --

MK: It was very disorganized, but --

BH: Were the artists working on these doing charts and sending them into a place where they were being held for the next time the books were being ready?

MK: No. We ____ through this, the only direct collaboration we had with Frank Stephen, although we had many plans that if some of the books had gotten further along, then the people that he would have recommended to us as best qualified to illustrate that particular one -- we would have utilized, but actually it was Bill Standing who was on the Federal Art Project that worked very closely in conjunction with my man who was James Long. Now there was some other collaboration but I can't remember the extent of it, I think on the Blackfeet, Ceceil Blackboy was on our art program, but Frank and his Art people were given their instructions and guidance and he had other artists up there at that time. I know he had one very talented young man named Victor Pepion who has since deceased, but he showed great promise.

BH: You don't remember how to spell his name?

MK: P E P I O N, I believe.

BH: Was he from Butte, do you know?

MK: No, he was a Black feet, I believe he had gone on to college, whether he completed his college training I can't remember. Frank Stephens I'm quite sure probably would be. Then at that time they were building the Plains Indiana Museum and John C. Ewers, who is now with the Smithsonian in Washington might possibly be familiar, because -- although that was -- I believe that was built under PWA -- so that they could use certain WPA talents. I believe they used Victor Pepion and others to do murals that were painted in the building and dioramas that were built and its possible, that some of this was done under the Federal Art Project -- but again I can't say to that because that wasn't my field and Frank Stephens probably could tell you.

BH: Is that a Browning, is that a part of Browning?

MK: Yea that was at Browning -- it still exists of course, it is a very good, small museum.

BH: I believe there is an artist who was on the project who is in charge of that now. Mother told me about it -- I'll have to get my notes out.

MK: That could be, again, I had more than enough work to take care of the writer's project.

BH: He's a good man himself. He used to be a taxidermist, he's a sculptor.

MK: Oh Bob Scriber.

BH: Yes.

MK: Well that may be. I don't know Bob. I never knew him in those days, but I've known him since I've been here. Once again, you see I come full cycle and I came to the historical society under Ross Toole, who was the then director at the time of the Society and then reorganized and was going in to get his Ph.D in History; he didn't feel he was qualified to handle the magazine and it was already beginning to show promise and he wanted to expand it and make it a national publication if possible -- so he brought me in to edit the magazine. Shortly thereafter I was his assistant, and then when Ross left to be the Director of the Museum of New York, in 1927, I became director.

BH: The magazine had a different name at that time, didn't it?

MK: It started as The Montana Magazine of History.

BH: And then -- ?

MK: We made it into the The Montana, the Magazine of Western History, and we obviously broadened its scope to include all of the west. But we realized there was tremendous interest in things western and a great market -- that wasn't being adequately covered by an authentic journal of Western History.

BH: You had the largest circulation of any of the magazines, today, is it not?

MK: Yes. We have to qualify that -- of any of the magazines published by an historical society. There are some in recent years which as poputlar ones that aren't as authentic as they might be true west than some of those and in recent years there's the American West published by the Western History Association, which I'm sure has a larger circulation than ours.

BH: Yes. And a very fine magazine, too. Do you mind going back to some of these people, because Mr. Stephens didn't remember about them -- well for instance the Cecile Blackboy. Can you tell me anything about her -- anything you think would be interesting about her for the tape? I gather she was a Blackfoot.

MK: I would think you would be able to get a complete run-down. My understanding that all of the files -- I think this is quite important -- see I was overseas at the time the Writer's Project was finally dismembered and Coppercamp had just come out -- I remember when I was in North Africa. But anyhow when I returned, naturally I was very eager because the projects we had been working on -- felt that even though there was no longer such an agency, that I would devote some time to try to shape up the three volume Livestock History for instance, the Indian Books and some other works and see if they could be put to use, and put into print. I discovered that the files relating to Indian material had ostensibly given to the Plains Indiana Museum at Browning and that the great bulk of millions and millions of words of manuscript material gathered on the livestock history, predominantly, but on several other, on raise land tales of Montana and other things had gone to the State College at Bolwsman because of my association and interest in the Federal Art Project, I was interested too, but actually I didn't learn until I came to work for the historical society that the art project -- files and the great number of paintings accumulated had been placed in storage in the basement of the capitol here in Helena and we discovered, we discovered the first year or two that I was in the Historical Society that apparently nobody had jurisdiction of them and because people start to come to us, asking us if we wanted to buy paintings, drawings -- well very quickly I recognized some of those as having been done under the Federal Art Project. We immediately went to the capitol and discovered that whatever had been stored there was dissipated -- it had gone the four winds. We did actually buy back from various people, probably fourteen William Standing pen and inks, originals that appeared in the book, Land of Dakota -- the others of course I have no idea -- because again as I say I had been overseas and wasn't aware of any of this. But its worth of follow-up and this is I think where Frank Stephens can remember and be more certain about.

BH: Well this will be of interest to the Smithsonian, too and to -- the man's name was Benson was there? --

MK: The man who is in charge --

BH: -- who is trying to collect all of the Federal Things now.

MK: Yeah. Yeah. I think so, I haven't had any direct communication -- and man the Smithsonian has been so drastic ally re-organized that it is such a huge organization, I don't -- but I can't even remember the man who was in charge of the national collection of fine art. We had some dealings with him, two or three years ago, but I think he has been superseded or replaced since then.

BH: Woothenham came from California.

MK: Oh yes.

BH: And that doesn't matter -- but -- I'm sure he would be interested to know that there might be some floating around still, because if they got into private hands they probably will still be turning in.

MK: Sure, sure. Sure.

BH: William Standings was an established artists when you came, wasn't he? Wasn't he known for his cartoons before that?

MK: Yes, yes. He was. Although I think he got a new lease on life -- he certainly got confidence and some training and instruction which he had never had before which was very beneficial. Had his habits been a little more temperate, and had he not been killed in a car accident, I would think William Standings would be recognized today as one of our most talented Montana painters.

BH: About how old was he when that happened? When was it?

MK: I think he was killed shortly after World War II. I never did see him again I presume the last time I saw him was probably in 1941, because I went into the army in 1942.

BH: Mother said that he was at the house with a gut gold one day, and of course Doug was here at this time.

MK: That's right. Yeah. He was a tall handsome fellow, very, very, nice guy -- a fullblood. I can give you biographical material on him.

BH: Wonderful.

MK: -- and perhaps on some of these other people and later on you're perfectly at liberty to look through our files here -- we've on a hit and miss basis because of our close association with artists throughout Montana or the artist who ever were in Montana -- we have been attempting to build up our files, but unfortunately, our Curatorial Department is so busy building the museum and exhibiting the art, but we have -- or that we borrow -- or the shows that come in here -- that we don't get to do much research. But we have assembled some rather useful files on artists, of Montana.

BH: Good. It's a fine thing you started because that will be really valuable some time, and it should be done while the people are around.

MK: That's what we're attempting to do.

BH: Were there any other projects that you did work on besides the livestock and the Indians tales -- somewhere I was thinking --

MK: Somewhere in my papers I may be able to find a check list, my recollection is that we had what would ultimately have been 20 or 30 full length books on Montana subjects and then a series of school pamphlets -- items we were told by such people as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and others that had been overlooked that weren't available in the standard reference books, place names -- possibly some of the simplification of the various dramatic episodes in Montana History and other things -- but I think ethnic groups, possibly we were treating --

BH: Excuse me for the moment, these ones for the schools were these to be in the form of pamphlets for the students?

MK: Yes. Inexpensive pamphlets of --

BH: And they were never finished up?

MK: I think some of those, some of those were put into use, but again I -- this thing telescoped and reached such a peak there in the closing years and with the war coming on, I knew that the thing would end and I was working desperately toward completion of these, of course, I realized that I was probably go with where there was a war.

BH: And you did. We might as well get this in the tape since you mentioned it. What did you go into?

MK: Yes, I went into the Army in the early spring of 1942.

BH: Were you in what part of the ________ or do you want to care to tell anything about it? Where you were?

MK: Well, Yeah. I was in Africa and Italy -- through out -- went to, let's see --

BH: I'm used to asked the artist if they went into camouflage groups, and I was trying to ask you if it wouldn't matter --

MK: No, because there was nothing in my army career -- I had some opportunities toward the end of the African campaign to go to work on stars and stripes, or one of the Army publications, but among other things it meant being reduced down ingrate, so I passed that up -- then I was in Italy approximately a year and a half -- the only thing that would have any relationship to anything I've done since is that we were fortunately -- we were in the area of Florence and the last period of the war before the breakthrough into the Po Valley and then when we were to be mustered out an returned home after the war, we were lucky to be stationed in Florence as marking time for a couple of months, though I had of course, along the line we saw a lot of Rome. So I got to see Florence quite thoroughly. I was offered a direct commission then to stay in the Army, but I would have had to sign up for a minimum of another year to work on the history of the Mediterranean Theater and I wasn't at all interested.

BH: You mean the theater of War?

MK: Yes. Yes.

BH: No I imagine you were very anxious, eager to get back here?

MK: I had been in the Army almost four years and I had been overseas for about 11 months of that -- I wasn't --

BH: And you came back directly here, then.

MK: Yes, I came back to Montana and footloose and fancy-free and went into again this has nothing to do with it, except my intention -- I had a friend who talked me into going up to west Yellowstone. He said, "Its marvelous place, you can make a fairly decent living in the summer, perhaps enough to tide you over and my intent then was to do research and writing in the winter months. But actually I got involved in the business which took all of my time, even though we weren't working and I never did get any writing or research in. After about three years I was broke and had to go to work, so that's the time when I went back and I still have the G. I. Bill to fall back on, so I just started to get back in my profession, which I had been away from approximately 8 years, and that's why I went back to Northwestern and got my Master's Degree. And it was at Northwestern among the various opportunities that were offered me -- most of them were either in the Chicago area or in the New York area and I didn't want to live in the East. But I had a lead on a job with Sunset Magazine in California and both my wife and I being Montana natives, on our way back we had a lay over here in Montana and we came back in the fall and it was so beautiful -- that we found it very tempting and in the meantime --

BH: You mean you never got to Menlo park at all?

MK: Right. So Ross Toole offered me this job, and I decided that I would give that a whirl for awhile -- so I'm still here.

BH: Well. It certainly has done many wonderful things for you. And its so beautiful -- you've never regretted it?

MK: No. No. No. Because, of course, we were fed up with cities -- my wife before we were married, we had lived in New York, in San Francisco, in Los Angeles although she was a Mazoola girl and of course, I'd had my fill of them -- I worked one winter while I was in West Yellowstone it was a necessity down in the bay area of California as co-editor of a small weekly paper -- Walnut Creek, a journal and by then I was eager to get back here to my profession.

BH: Is or was you wife a journalist also.

MK: No. No. Nor an artist.

BH: Nor an artist, then we can't talk about her (haha)

MK: I think one of the most rewarding parts of my job here is the fact that I've had to work so closely with artists and it renewed all of the old feeling and all of the old understanding that I gained through Frank Stephenson in the days when our two projects were working so closely together.

BH: Were any of the Montana Guides done specifically on just one town -- I know that there are sections within the Guide books --

MK: No. No. It was only published as one volume.

BH: That's the only one that came out?

MK: Yes. There was a great deal of extraneous material which we would have ultimately worked over into such things as place names of Montana and ethnic groups in Montana -- almost every conceivable kind -- that extracting from because to write a book of that type and this was particularly true of the old arrangement they spun their wheels so much that sometimes to write a paragraph they would four or five researchers maybe work a month, while obviously there was a great deal of material gathered -- I'm not saying that they boondoggling, but they didn't need that king of material of the State Guide, the book just would have been five times too large had they utilized it -- much of it was.

BH: It could be used some place else.

MK: Oh yes. It was valuable for the most part with additional editing and research and shaping up into specific subjects of -- topics -- would have made many monographs -- so would have possibly made a few other books and so on. And then combined with a great amount of material that we had gathered from 1937 till '42 and when I left the writer's project, the potential materials, those files that remained intact would have conceivably all been completed and would have resulted in I would say roughly 30-full length books of Montana subjects.

BH: Wouldn't it have been great if they could do it again and --

MK: Yeah, the times for it are just great! I think some of us were aware that it -- the handwriting was on the wall, but we didn't realize all the ramifications -- certainly the one thing I always assumed -- was that the files which were priceless, just as the art, good, bad, or indifferent painted on the Federal Art Project would have all been saved.

BH: It's inconceivable that it would.

MK: Then on this, this -- terrible -- everybody, suddenly everybody was oriented to the war, every thing was the war effort; anything that wasn't was extraneous and -- but it was a callous disregard for our heritage and our future, too, to not take better care of it. But the -- this theory I guess prevailed and all that sort of thing -- got lost in the shuffle.

BH: Were there any writers on your project who went on with writing careers? And did anything with it speak up?

MK: No. My assistant, my assistant was Ed Reynolds who had been a newspaperman for quite a long time -- Ed was 4F and became -- he replaced me with my recommendation to replace me, because he was my chief editor, very talented, and very able guy -- he was in the service within four or five months after I was in and was shipwrecked on the Dorchester -- whenever that was -- and was in the water for quite a long time in the North Atlantic and badly paralyzed and consequently Ed was out of the war long -- in after I was -- and out of it much sooner, but faced with this realization then he might be permanently crippled -- he started to get all of the remaining education he could -- I don't believe he had quite completed Bachelor's degree -- but as it was he went on and worked through his Masters at Northwestern and working on Doctorate in Sociology, when he transferred to California and I believe he finally got his Ph. D from Stanford and he had gone to work then for I believe for the examiner -- but I'm not sure -- the examiner or the Chronicle in San Francisco and I believe it's still there. He must be a top-flight man on the editorial end. Ed's the only one that really, I can think of -- many of these people were older and had been treated rather cruelly by life. There weren't really on the writer's project, I think on the art project there were some young and talented people who, may once again Frank Stephens may tell you about -- on our project, most of them were middle-aged or elderly -- Bill Burk who really did much of the work on Coppercamp has started and attempted to write in recent years, but he's been bothered about cataracts and I think was so badly handicapped that Bing Ronney who I remember was on the project just died apparently shortly after the project closed. Most of the people I've mentioned -- I'm sure I've just heard from the Crow Indian Reservation and both of those two people have been dead for a number of years. The old gentlemen on the Flathead it seems to me died while we were in the process of doing our research there. Cecile Blackboy had been dead for a number of years. William Standing had been dead since 1946 or '49. James Long who was on one of my projects -- however he is still alive -- very elderly man, lived in Hamilton.

BH: Maybe this summer I'll get over there.

MK: Yeah. Lot of these with some leads, you see, I might be able to follow through. I would think, for instance, however because your field is basically art -- still what I've told you, then referring back to Frank Stephen and then in the meantime we can search through existing information around Montana -- I would certainly suggest that you talk at some time with Francis Stevenson in Great Falls. He was not on the project --

BH: Oh, I had an appointment with Mr. Rod Coleman. I'm coming this week, thank you.

MK: Good. And well you're doing that, Jim Logan who is president of the Montana Institute of the Arts, but I know was very active in the days of the Federal Art Project --

BH: Good. Mr. Stevenson mentioned him and said to tell Philio hello, that he didn't indicate whether he had been on the project.

MK: Yeah. Well, that I don't know either, you see, but they can certainly tell you.

BH: What about Mr. Wine -- Wym, do you know who frames paintings, who frames for Charlie Russell -- he surely must have been on it.

MK: Again, you see I --

BH: You don't know.

MK: -- just wouldn't know. I don't remember as such. I've met him in recent years --

BH: I should ask you where Ed Reynolds came from originally?

MK: Come from Anaconda.

BH: Anaconda.

MK: And let's see Billberg who lives in Deerlock --

MK: No. He was Butte, always from an old family in Butte. William A. Burke.

BH: He may still be there.

MK: No, he's lived out on the around Vancouver, Washington, I believe in recent years, for quite a long time.

BH: I believe probably -- I hope we get another grant of some kind to do you know, the drama and writing -- perfectly.

MK: Oh good.

BH: And to skim all they can, anyways.

MK: Well now, let's see, TAPE WAS SHUT OFF AT THIS POINT

MK: -- I can undoubtedly refresh my memory on many names and places and add some additional material.

BH: Well, I've certainly appreciated what you have given us already. And thank you so much.

MK: Well its a pleasure and of course your work for the Archives is so important; we recognize every day how needed such an institution is in the United States, so we will always work with the hope that we can be of help to it.

BH: Good. Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW

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This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Michael Stephen Kennedy, 1965 Nov. 26, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.