Get Territorial! Get Involved!
On the morning of March 4, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln (Idaho has a county named for him) signed a congressional act creating Idaho Territory.
On July 3, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison (Idaho has a city and a street in Boise named for him) signed a congressional act establishing Idaho as the 43rd state.
The 27-year territorial era between those two presidential signatures was perhaps the most significant quarter century in Idaho’s history, shaping who we are as a state today.
The Idaho State Historical Society offers essential services that provide a better understanding of Idaho’s unique history and the significant role history plays in leading to a shared vision of the future. Please join us in commemorating the territorial sesquicentennial. We’ve provided some materials at this site to help you get started.
“Get Territorial: Idaho at 150” is a statewide, grassroots effort. Use your imagination to plan your own commemoration. If you think we can help, let us know.
Idaho State Historical Society Legacy Projects
To foster a more meaningful exploration of our history and create a permanent legacy of Idaho’s territorial sesquicentennial, ISHS will complete several projects.
Lincoln Legacy exhibition: (Opening at the Idaho History Center Fall 2013)
A one-of-a-kind exhibition emphasizing and celebrating the Lincoln connection to Idaho in the State Archives. The twelve-hundred square foot exhibit will create a signature Abraham Lincoln research collection of books, documents, images, and artifacts of value to scholars.
150 Years of Idaho Fashion online exhibition:
A unique online exhibition showcasing clothing and textiles from the past 150 years from the rich collection of the ISHS. This web-based project will provide the ultimate opportunity for a world-wide audience to learn how the collection intersects with Idaho history.
Bear River Massacre National Historic Landmark:
State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is working on a Historic Battlefield Protection Grant to review and understand remaining archaeological signature of the site and establish a local community advocacy group. The Bear River Massacre will also be the topic of Brown Bag Lecture, January 15, 2013. Click here for additional details.
Merle W. Wells Research Center:
On March 7, 2012, as the first official act of the Idaho at 150 Commemoration, ISHS dedicated the "Merle W. Wells Research Center" at State Archives. Wells, who died in 2000, began his career as a volunteer with ISHS in the 1940s, joined the staff in 1956, and retired in 1986. During that time he established the State Archives, State Historic Preservation Office, and the state highway historical marker program. The decision to name the facility during Idaho at 150 was especially appropriate, for no historian has written more about Idaho's territorial period.
Idaho State Historical Society Featured Programs
In addition to our legacy projects, ISHS has four major initiatives planned for Idaho at 150:
“Essential Idaho: 150 Things That Make The Gem State Unique” exhibition:
This special exhibit at the State Historical Museum will feature 150 items nominated from organizations and individuals across Idaho representing Idaho’s diverse landscape, remarkable people, and fascinating history. The exhibition will open to the public on March 5, 2013.
Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month:
This statewide educational outreach program is offered annually each May through partnerships with libraries, historical societies, museums, schools, government agencies, and private companies. Thousands of Idahoans learn about Idaho’s cultural heritage through programs about archaeological and historical sites, historic architecture, preservation, and landscapes which have been discovered and recorded throughout Idaho. In 2013, all activities will focus on the Idaho at 150 commemoration.
Idaho Landscapes Publication:
In partnership with Boise State University, Idaho State University, and the University of Idaho, the Idaho State Historical Society will feature a special issue of the journal focused on Idaho history during territorial times.
Working with the Idaho Heritage Partners, the Idaho State Historical Society will host a conference that will bring history, museum, preservation, and archaeology professionals and enthusiasts from across the state together to provide training and collaboration opportunities.
Need More Information?
Keith Petersen, Associate Director/State Historian
North Idaho Office, Idaho State Historical Society
112 W. 4th St., Suite 7, Moscow, ID, 83843
(208) 882-1540 or e-mail