Robert Svoboda's donation to the Northern Rockies Heritage Center of a large collection of rare photos and post cards of Montana is highlighted here. This Web exhibit presents picture postcards that were circulated during the first half of the 19th century. Mr. Svoboda received the collection from his mother, who started the collection in 1906. He expanded the collection up to its present size of 22,673 postcards. Since his family did not plan to continue the collection, Mr. Svoboda entrusted it intact to the Northern Rockies Heritage Center.
Robert Allan Svoboda was born in Lewistown, MT in 1926. He grew up in Danvers, MT which was a very small community mostly of people of Czechoslovakian descent as he is (his father was Czechoslovakian, his mother Scottish). There were no utilities in town so light came from oil and gas lamps, water from the well, and heat from a coal stove.
After graduating from high school in Lewistown, he worked various jobs until he served in the Navy (shipboard in the Pacific) during World War II. At war's end he attended Montana State University (now the University of Montana) and received his B.A. in 1949.
He credited Professor R. Y. McGinnis with teaching him the most significant leadership lessons of his life: "to persuasively communicate with clarity and logic." He spent his career in the business world, retiring from the position of CEO and Chairman of the Board of a large California bank in 1991 and maintained homes in California and Hawaii. Mr. Svoboda passed away on July 21, 2009.
The Svoboda collection includes postcards of printed images and Real Photos. The latter may have a caption printed from handwriting on the negative or glass. Their subject matter provides remarkable snapshots of history even after scanning and reduction for Web display.
Representative images have been chosen from many thousands of statewide images so that those interested may see the wide variety of postcards in the collection. More photos will be added over the coming months.
Visitors to this site who may have enjoyed the display are encouraged to consider making a (tax deductible) contribution to the Northern Rockies Heritage Center. Cash donations, for general NRHC use or specifically designated to preserving and exhibiting this collection, will gladly be accepted, as will the donation of Montana postcard collections, Historical Montana photographs, or copies of historical photographs. Any contributed items will be publicly identified as coming from the donor.
The NRHC has received a grant from the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula in order to prepare an exhibit of the Missoula (city) and Missoula County images. This exhibit will be open to the public in the spring of 2005 in the newly refurbished Post Headquarters Building at Fort Missoula.
Note: The header of this page is from a Havre postcard which reads, "Panorama View of Havre Mont. from Water Works Hill".