John W. Bonner papers, 1929-1970  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Bonner, John W. (Woodrow), 1902-1970
John W. Bonner papers
1929-1970 (inclusive)
2.5 linear feet
Collection Number
MC 413 (36:2-5)
This collection consists of records collected and created by John W. Bonner. Collection consists of scrapbooks (1929-1969) containing newspaper clippings regarding Bonner's work as Montana's Attorney General and Governor; and serving in the U.S. Army during the Second World War. Collection also includes family and general correspondence (1941-1945) between John Bonner and others, a campaign speech (1952), subject files (1936-1970)focusing on his work as Attorney General and Governor. Scrapbooks and other oversized documents hosued in oversize boxes.
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

John W. Bonner, the thirteenth governor of Montana, was born in Butte, Montana on July 16, 1902. His education was attained at Montana State University, where he earned an A.B. degree, as well as a LL.B. degree. Bonner then established his legal career in Butte, serving as counsel for the Montana Highway Commission from 1929 to 1936. He also served as the attorney for the Railroad and Public Service Commission from 1936 to 1940. Bonner first entered politics as the secretary treasurer of the State Democratic Central Committee. He also was chairman of the Lewis and Clark County Democratic Central Committee, and served as attorney general of Montana from 1941 to 1942. His political career was temporarily interrupted with the outbreak of World War II. He served as a major in the U.S. Army, was promoted to the rank of colonel, and earned several medals for his courageous service. After his military duty, he secured the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by a popular vote in November 1948. During his tenure, a state home for the senile aged was established; highway construction was advanced; the pioneer veterans memorial building was initiated; the department of labor, industry and agriculture was restructured; and a veterans' preference law was sanctioned. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Bonner left office, and returned to his legal practice. From 1968 to 1970, he served as a justice on the Montana State Supreme Court. Governor John W. Bonner passed away on March 28, 1970, and was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Biography taken from National Governors Association website.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection consists of records collected and created by John W. Bonner prior to, during, and after his time as the Governor of Montana (1949-1953). The series represented in the collection - correspondence, speeches and writings, subject files, clippings, and miscellany - are organized in chronological order according to his professional career (State Attorney General, State Governor, State Supreme Court Justice). The loose news clippings, however, are not in chronological order, many missing the date and publisher of the article. The collection is primarily composed of scrapbooks (miscellany) and subject files, with scattered correspondence written to family and friends. The scrapbooks have been deconstructed and foldered in the order the pages originally appeared in the scrapbook. Loose material found in the scrapbooks have also been foldered and arranged in the same order they were originally found in the scrapbooks. Scrapbooks and other oversized documents hosued in oversize boxes.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1
Incoming Correspondence (letter regarding the state's resolution on gambling)
1 / 2
Family Correspondence

Speeches and Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 3
Campaign Speech
1 / 4
"Misc Statements to Congress" Reclamation and Indian Affairs
1963, undated

Subject Files Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 5
Attorney General
1936-1942, undated
1 / 6
Campaign Material, Governor
circa 1948
1 / 7
Western Governors' Conference, Houston, TX
1 / 8
Western Governors' Conference, Phoenix, AZ
1 / 9
Governors' Interstate Indian Council
1952, undated
1 / 10
Regional/National Issues (Reclamation, Transportation, etc.)
1 / 11
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
1 / 12
"Bonner - Supreme Court"

Clippings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 13
Attorney General [heavy focus on gambling]
2 / 1
Democratic National Conventions
2 / 2
circa 1940-1968

MiscellanyReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
2 / 3
Miscellaneous Documents
circa 1940-1968
2 / 4-8
"John W. Bonner Campaign 1936 for Attorney General; Campaign 1940" Scrapbook
circa 1936-1940
2 / 9
"Governor John W. Bonner Oct-1951 Personal" Scrapbook
1951 October

Oversize MaterialReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
"Attorney General 1941-1942" Scrapbook
"Attn Gen Years" Scrapbook
circa 1941-1942
"WWII" Scrapbook
circa 1942-1945
"Vol II War Scrapbook"
circa 1942-1945
"Governor" Scrapbooks No. 1-3
circa 1949-1952
"Governor" Scrapbook
circa 1949-1952
Campaign Posters, Certificates of Appointment to elected offices and private positions, Scholastic Diplomas, Miscellany

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • American Indians--Montana
  • Educational equalization--Montana
  • Elections--Montana
  • Gambling--Montana
  • Governors--Montana
  • Water resources developments--Montana
  • Personal Names :
  • Bonner, John W. (Woodrow), 1902-1970 (creator)
  • Corporate Names :
  • Democratic Party (Mont.)
  • Montana. Office of the Governor
  • Geographical Names :
  • Helena (Mont.)