Mattie T. Cramer Papers, 1888-1958

Overview of the Collection

Cramer, Mattie T., d. 1959
Mattie T. Cramer Papers
1888-1958 (inclusive)
.4 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 255
This collection consists of correspondence (1894-1958), diaries (1888, 1895-1896), writings (n.d.), and miscellaneous financial records (1916, 1938-1946) of Mattie T. (Mathers) Cramer, a pioneer homesteader and newspaperwoman from Malta, Montana. The bulk of her papers consist of editorial and feature articles (n.d.) written for publication, and approximately 160 letters (1913-1915) written to her from all over the United States, requesting information on homesteading in Montana.
Montana Historical Society, Library & Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Mattie (Mathers) Cramer was born in Nora Springs, Iowa, the daughter of William and Eliza (Slec) Mathers. In 1893 Mattie was employed as a newspaper reporter, and editor, for the Iowa City Herald and later in 1894 was a traveling saleswoman for W.F. Main and Company, a clock and jewelry manufacturer. In 1893 she married B. Frank Cramer, and took a job as a traveling representative for VanCamps Packing Company. In 1896, while residing in New York State, the Cramers had a son, Harold L. In May of 1908 Mattie, now widowed, came to Montana, with her 12 year old son and filed a homestead claim on 160 acres near Malta. Her mother soon joined them and they lived in a one room shack on the homestead. Mattie became editor and manager of the local newspaper, the Enterprise. She maintained her work with the newspaper while residing on her homestead for the next several years. She also established a town library by collecting donated books and magazines at the newspaper office and loaning them to members of the community. She lives on her homestead for the next several years until she resigned. In 1914 Mattie resigned from her job at the newspaper in order to care for her mother. Mattie continued to write, and by request of the Great Northern Railway she published a testimonial letter concerning her homesteading experience in one of the railroad's Bulletins. Over the next two years she received, via the Malta Enterprise and the Cascade Echo, hundreds of letters from all over the United States requesting information about homesteading in Montana. The railroad provided Mattie with a circular to send to all the respondents. In 1919 Mrs. Mathers died and Mattie leased her homestead and moved to the Puget Sound area, while her son remained in Great Falls. She was engaged in newspaper work for the Oracle in Orting, Washington, and was secretary at the local chamber of commerce, until her return to her homestead in 1926. In the early 50s she moved to Great Falls where she continued her writing. During her career Mattie Cramer wrote numerous feature articles in the Sunday issues of leading Montana daily newspapers, and the Sunday Tacoma Ledger, as well as contributing articles and short stories to various publications and journals. Mattie died July 1, 1959 and she was preceded in death by her son, who died in 1946.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

These papers of Mattie T. Cramer (Mathers) consist of personal correspondence (1894-1958) and diaries of Ms. Cramer and other family members. The diaries include Ms. Cramer's diary (1895-1896) as a traveling saleswoman in the Midwest and the diary (1888) of her brother, Samuel E. Mathers concerning daily life in Iowa. The bulk of the correspondence are letters (1913-1915) written to Ms. Cramer from all over the United States requesting information concerning homesteading in Montana. This correspondence was in response to a letter written by Ms. Cramer and published in a bulletin of the Great Northern Railway. Also included in the collection are her writings (n.d), including editorial and feature articles written for publication; miscellaneous financial papers (1916, 1938-1946), including a receipt (1916) from the U.S. Land Office for 160 acres of homestead land; a press pass (1893) for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, and Northern Railway which includes a photograph of Mattie T. Mathers; and other personal and family miscellany.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


by series

Acquisition Information

Acquisition Information:

available upon request

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

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

Incoming Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1
1 / 2-3
From prospective homesteaders, A-Z

Outgoing Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 4
Miscellaneous (including a biographical letter to a publisher; and letters to family members)

Miscellaneous Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 5
Letters neither from nor to Mattie Cramer
1894, 1908-1915, n.d.

Diaries Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 6
Samuel E. Mathers
1 / 7
Mattie T. Cramer

Financial Records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 8
1916, 1938-1946

Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 9-10
Miscellaneous (re community life in Montana, and general human interest stories, for publication)

Miscellany Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
u1 / 11
Miscellany (includes memorabilia, press pass with photo, unidentified writings, and clippings)
1889-1896, n.d.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • HOMESTEADING--1910-1920
  • Homesteading--1900-1910
  • Authors

Geographical Names

  • Phillips County (Mont.)