This collection consists of three diaries kept by James Ball at different points in his life. Two of the diaries also contain accounting records. The first diary is from May 1906 to December 1908. The second runs from November 1913 to August 1915 but includes five pages of accounting from 1883-1884. The third, and largest, was written between September 1928 and July 1933. The diaries contain day-to-day observations of the sheep ranch, weather, James Ball's travels around Montana, visits from neighbors, work exchanged with neighbors, and other small community events.
The collection contains family papers and records related to the business investments of Marcus Daly of Montana, copper magnate, businessman, and politician. The collection primarily consists of family estate papers and business records of the Bitterroot Stock Farm from the 1880s to 1990s. The daily operational activities of the Bitterroot Stock Farm, including ranching, horse breeding, and agricultural activities, are especially well documented. The records of the Valley Mercantile of Hamilton are also quite extensive and detail the financial activities of the company. The collection also contains records related to the business investments of Marcus Daly and his heirs in mining industries, water irrigation projects, retail businesses and real estate ventures from the 1880s to the 1990s. Materials include correspondence, financial records, reports, minutes, legal documents and aerial maps of the family properties.