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Facts and Information: Senator Lee Metcalf (1911-1978)

Page history last edited by Jeff Malcomson 8 years, 6 months ago

Portrait of Rep. Lee Metcalf, circa 1958.

Lot 31 B1/6.03




Senator Lee Metcalf (1911-1978)


This is an introductory guide to the life and work of Montana's U.S. Senator Lee W. Metcalf.  The topics covered by the various historical writings within this guide are meant to provide a background for researchers to understand who Lee Metcalf was and how to begin looking for information on his life.


Between 1937 and 1952, Lee Warren Metcalf (1911-1978) served as a Montana state legislator, state assistant attorney general, World War II soldier and military prosecutor, and a Montana Supreme Court Associate Justice.  From 1952 to 1961, he held Montana’s First District U.S. Representative's seat in Congress.  In 1961, he became a U.S. Senator, serving until his death on January 12, 1978.  He was the Permanent Acting President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate from June 1963 to January 1978, the only man to hold this presiding officer position in the U.S. Senate to date.


The Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives holds a collection known as Lot 31, Lee Metcalf Photograph Collection.  This collection includes approximately 3,900 photographic items documenting Metcalf's life and work from 1911 to 1978.  To view the inventory for Lot 31 use the following link: http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv71536.


Metcalf Biography and Genealogy


Brief Biography of Lee Warren Metcalf

Genealogy of Lee and Donna Metcalf


Metcalf and Political Issues


Civil Rights Act of 1964

Economic Opportunity Act of 1964

Wilderness Act of 1964, Part 1

Wilderness Act of 1964, Part 2


Metcalf's Use of Media


Metcalf's Use of Media for His Constituents, 1953-1966


MHS Blog Posts on Lee Metcalf


"How Charlie Russell Took Over Washington D.C.," by  Matthew Peek, May, 24, 2013


"1964 Civil Rights Act at Fifty: Senator Lee Metcalf and the Fight for Equality," by Matthew Peek, June 17, 2014


"Montana's Role in the War on Poverty: 50th Anniversary of the Passage of the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act," by Matthew Peek, August 22, 2014


"Lee Metcalf's Legacy of Conservation," by Matthew Peek, September 3, 2014


Media Coverage and Public Programs about Lee Metcalf

(With or by Matthew Peek for Council of Libraries and Information Resources Grant Project)


Matthew Peek, "Montana Historical Society gets grant to organize Metcalf collection," Press Release, Montana Historical Society, published in the Helena Independent Record newspaper, July 19, 2013.


"Big Sky Chronicles: Lee Metcalf," Beartooth NBC television (Helena, MT), Interview with Matthew Peek by Charles Misra about the Lee Metcalf Photograph and Film Collections Project, August 12, 2013.


C-SPAN 3/American History T.V. Interview with Matthew Peek on the Lee Metcalf Photograph and Film Collections Project, as part of the 2013 Helena "American Cities" Tour.


Matthew Peek, "The Lee Metcalf Photograph and Film Collection Project," YouTube video of Montana Historical Society Public Program, April 24, 2014.


Matthew Peek, "A Life Undaunted: Senator Lee Metcalf's Life and Work, 1911-1978," YouTube video of Montana Historical Society Public Program, May 15, 2014.


Matthew Peek, "Lee Metcalf and the Summer of 1964," 2014 Montana History Conference "Summer of 1964" session, Montana Historical Society, September 20, 2014.

  • MHS photograph archivist Matthew Peek examines how major state and national events affected the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. Peek discusses Metcalf’s role in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” program, which culminated on September 3, 1964, with the signing of the Wilder­ness Act. As one of the original sponsors of early versions of the Wilderness Act in 1956-1957, Metcalf did more than any other single U.S. congressman to bring about the act’s passage.


Marga Lincoln, “Wilderness and civil rights: Lee Metcalf and the summer of 1964,” Helena Independent Record, September 2, 2014, interview with Matthew Peek of MHS and former congressman Pat Williams.


"Celebrating 50 Years Since The Wilderness Act," Matthew Peek interview with KFBB-TV ABC/Fox Montana (Helena/Great Falls) about the MHS Lee Metcalf and Wilderness Act anniversary public program at the Myrna Loy Theater on September 3, 2014.


This Montana History Compass guide focused on Senator Lee Metcalf was created as part of a Council on Libraries and Information Resources (CLIR) “Hidden Collections” grant project, with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation, received by the Montana Historical Society in 2012.  The goal of the grant project is the organization, identification, preservation, and description of the original photograph and film collections of Senator Lee Metcalf, using original primary archival records to assist in the identification of the photographs and films.  The information included as part of this guide was developed from the research conducted by Project Archivist Matthew M. Peek, as part of the project's goals.


 Montana Historical Society Research Center

 225 North Roberts, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201, 406-444-2681, 406-444-2696 (fax).



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