Bessie K. Monroe Papers, 1982-1983

Overview of the Collection

Monroe, Bessie K., 1888-1987
Bessie K. Monroe Papers
1982-1983 (inclusive)
0.1 linear feet
Collection Number
Mss 464 (collection)
This collection includes information about Bessie K. Monroe's life in Western Montana. Her articles and poems give a history of her family's homesteading days in the late nineteenth century and of the Bitterroot Valley throughout the 20th century.
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 4062432053
Fax: 4062434067
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana--Missoula.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Bessie Kerlee Monroe was born in the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana on Sept. 22, 1888, five months after her family settled into their homestead. Her parents, James Kerlee and Mary Sally Hibler, were married June 10, 1877 in Missouri. Jim and Sally Kerlee, as they were known, operated a farm there. Around 1885 the family moved to a peach farm near Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, before traveling to Montana in 1888. The couple had six children before they left for the Bitterroot Valley and had their ninth, Bessie Kerlee, shortly after they arrived. They eventually had eleven children. The family lived on Tin Cup Creek, southwest of Darby, Montana, until 1896 when they traded their homestead for another one just north of town. Jim Kerlee died on the Nez Perce Pass in November 1921 while traveling home from a month vacation at his placer claim on Idaho's Deep Creek trail. Sally Kerlee remained at the family's homestead until her death in 1942.

Bessie Monroe was a member of the first graduating eighth grade class in Darby in 1902 and attended high school in Corvallis, Montana. She married Roy Park Monroe, a U.S. Forest Service ranger, on Christmas Eve 1907 in Darby. They had six children. From 1910 to 1914 the couple traveled with one or more of their children through the Clearwater National Forest in the Idaho panhandle while Roy Monroe worked as a ranger. During World War I, Bessie Monroe worked as a correspondent for the Butte Miner at Twin Bridges, Montana. Following her husband's death on Aug. 27, 1920, Bessie Monroe moved to Hamilton, Montana, in 1922 to begin work with the Ravalli Republican newspaper. Bessie Monroe, who was known as "B. K.," supported her children by writing articles for various newspapers, including the Missoulian. B.K. Monroe was also a published poet and was interested in historical preservation. She was known as the Bitterroot Valley's veteran reporter. At age 95 in 1983, Bessie "B. K." Monroe still wrote stories for what is now called the Ravalli Republic. She had been writing for that newspaper for 61 years. She died in 1987.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection includes information about Bessie K. Monroe's life in Western Montana. Her articles and poems give a history of her family's homesteading days in the late nineteenth century and of the Bitterroot Valley throughout the 20th century

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes. Copyright not transferred to The University of Montana.

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], Bessie K. Monroe Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana--Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is divided into three series:

Series I: Correspondence, 7 pages, 1983

Series II: Published material, 2 items, 1982-1983

Series III: Photograph, 1 item, 1983

Custodial History

Materials in this collection were deposited with and collected by The University of Montana School of Forestry in 1983. In 1984 the School of Forestry transferred collection materials to the K. Ross Toole Archives.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ben Stout and the University of Montana--Missoula, School of Forestry, 1984

Processing Note

The actions of the original processors are unknown. In 2002, the collection was reprocessed.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Correspondence , 1983Return to Top

7 pages

This series includes a note Bessie K. Monroe wrote to the University of Montana School of Forestry on Oct. 24, 1983. She donated her book, Bitter Root and Other Montana Verse, to the school in honor of her childhood friend and former U.S. Forest Service employee, John William Johnson Jr. This series also includes a letter written by Bessie K. Monroe on Dec. 30, 1983, to Ben Stout, former dean of the School of Forestry at the University of Montana. In this letter, she described her travels in the early 1900s with her husband in the Clearwater National Forest on the Idaho panhandle.

Container(s) Description Dates
Correspondence from Bessie K. Monroe to UM School of Forestry

Series II:  Published Material , 1982-1983Return to Top

2 items

This series includes Bessie K. Monroe's short book of poetry, Bitter Root and Other Montana Verse, first published in 1980. Also included is a special section from the Ravalli Republic newspaper, which was put out in honor of Bessie "B.K." Monroe's 95th birthday on Sept. 22, 1983. The 20-page section includes a short biography of Bessie Monroe, thirteen of her articles written between 1928 and 1975, photos of her life in the Bitterroot Valley, and several of her poems.

Container(s) Description Dates
Published writings by Bessie K. Monroe, including general biographical information

Series III:  Photograph , Sept. 22, 1983Return to Top

This series includes one color photo of Bessie K. Monroe taken at a banquet in Hamilton, Montana, for her 95th birthday on Sept. 22, 1983.

Container(s) Description Dates
464(III)1: Photo of Bessie K. Monroe
Sept. 22, 1983

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Forest rangers--Idaho--Clearwater National Forest
  • Poems

Personal Names

  • Monroe, Roy Park, d. 1920

Corporate Names

  • United States. Forest Service--Officials and employees

Geographical Names

  • Clearwater National Forest (Idaho)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Photographs


  • Women journalists--Montana--Hamilton
  • Women poets, American--Montana--Hamilton

Titles within the Collection

  • Ravalli republic