An extraordinary system of cultural and historic resources.

Reference Series

Reference Series

Former State Historian Merle Wells originated the Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series in the 1960s.  Merle sought to have a handy series providing people with quick snapshots of different topics in Idaho history.  Since Merle wrote many of the vignettes himself, it is no wonder that the series is particularly strong in topics such as territorial politics and Idaho mining history, some of his favorites.

But Merle also enlisted others to write; indeed, he encouraged virtually anyone he knew who was researching an Idaho topic—particularly, but not limited to, Idaho State Historical Society staff—to spin out a reference series summary.  Under his enthusiastic leadership, the series grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s.

As technologies changed, providing new ways for the public to access information—and as Merle retired—new entries to the series virtually ceased.  But it remains a rich repository of Idaho information.

For the most part, the series entries are unattributed.  Few have bibliographies or endnotes.  Most are undated.   Certainly, these are frustrations to the serious scholar.

But Merle did not aim this series at the scholar.  Rather, he intended it as a means for people to get started in Idaho history.  Find a topic here and whet your appetite.  The idea was that those interested in more would move on to explore other research materials; the series was never intended to be the end-all of information available about any given topic. 

Enjoy.  Here you’ll find stories of famous Idahoans; of trappers and miners; of towns and counties; legends and battles; trails and historic sites.  There are more than 1,000 topics to choose from.

And if you are interested in more information, be sure to check out the rich repositories of information about Idaho that we have available for researchers at the Idaho State Archives and at the State Historic Preservation Office.  The Idaho State Historical Society helps people of all ages to explore and appreciate Idaho’s rich past.  A good place to begin is right here, with our Reference Series.

How to Use the Reference Series

The number of pages in the article appears in parentheses. (Gaps in the numerical sequence are reserved for future titles.) The documents were created over a span of time and use a variety of fonts and layout schemes.

We offer (below) a thematic arrangement of our Reference Series but please note that this unfinished list contains only half of the titles in the series.  View our numerical listing for the complete series. Our site's Search feature--found at the top of the page--can help you find exact names or topics.

Land and Climate
67. (19) The Geologic History of Southern Idaho By Eugene H.Walker
38. (1) Snake River
98. (2) The Great Bonneville Flood
116. (9) Site Report - Seven Devils
128. (1) North Idaho Glaciation
179. (2) Idaho Prehistory
213. (1) Hard Winters in Idaho
294. (2) Snake River Basin

Native Americans
22. (3) The Indians of Idaho
23. (2) Idaho's Indian Wars
24. (2) The Sheepeater Indians
88. (1) Composite Shoshoni Bands of the Fur Trade Era
89. (2) Indians and Whites in the Nez Perce Country
121. (5) Fort Hall
122. (1) Coeur d'Alene Mission
248. (2) Boise Shoshoni
249. (1) Idaho Prehistoric Culture Areas
250. (1) Petroglyphs and Pictographs
295. (2) Snake River Prehistory and Historical Summary
299. (1) Idaho's Indian Population in 1800
361. (4) Hunting for Arrowheads and Other Indian Artifacts
484. (5) Shoshoni and Northern Paiute Indians in Idaho
485. (2) Lemhi Shoshoni Cultural Antecedents
486. (5) The Lemhi in Early Nineteenth Century
487. (2) Northern Shoshoni Cultural Antecedents
488. (4) Eighteenth Century Northern Shoshoni
489. (5) Northern Shoshoni Family Organization and Culture
490. (5) Northern Shoshoni Intertribal Trade and Fur Trade
491. (2) Northern Shoshoni Cosmology

Trappers, Traders, Explorers, Soldiers
49. (3) The Lewis and Clark Trail Across Idaho
1. (1) Canoe Camp Site
29. (2) Location of Fort Boise, 1834-1855 (Fur Trade)
54. (19) Snake River Ferries
59. (2) List of Army Battles & Military Events in Idaho
62. (3) Fur Trade Posts in Idaho
63. (4) Idaho Military Posts and Camps
86. (14) Route of Alexander Ross, 1824
91. (2) Text of the Treaty of Fort Boise, October 10, 1864
232. (18) Almo Massacre
233. (38) Site of Utter Party Massacre
234. (16) Massacre Rocks
235. (2) Battle of Bear River, January 29, 1863
236. (3) The Snake War, 1864-1868
238. (2) Ruby and Silver City War Meetings February 14-15, 1866
239. (2) Battle of Three Forks and the Owyhee Cannon
242. (5) Exploration and Settlement of Salmon River
244. (3) The Early Bear River Fur Trade: Bear Lake and Cache Valley
245. (2) Jim Bridger in Idaho
246. (3) Lemhi-Lost River Fur Trade
280. (1) Lemhi Pass
281. (3) Alexander Ross's 1824 Route Into Stanley Basin
292. (3) Packer John's Cabin
353. (3) Fort Hall (Military)
355. (3) Fort Sherman
356. (3) Fort Boise (United States Army)
357. (3) Camp Lyon
358. (2) Camp Three Forks
367. (2) A Select Guide to Scholarly Works Relating to the Idaho Region Before 1860
427. (3) The Skinner Road
428. (2) Jean Baptiste Charbonneau
440. (4) Battle of White Bird
444. (4) Idaho Fur Trade
450. (2) The Nez Perce War From Camas Meadows Through Targhee Pass
453. (1) Bibliography for Spokane House, 1810-1826
462. (4) Lawyer and the 1863 Nez Perce Treaty
474. (2) Bannock War at Camas Prairie

Trails to Rails
50. (2) The Oregon Trail in Idaho
51. (2) Goodale's Cutoff
52. (3) The California Trail in Idaho
71. (2) Eagle Rock Ferry
74. (3) Kelton Road
75. (2) The Toano Route 78. (9) Boise-Idaho City Toll Road (2.6 MB file)
79. (1) Route of the Oregon Trail in the Upper Boise Valley
93. (4) The Goodrich Trail
94. (3) South Boise Wagon Road
95. (5) Rice and Porter Toll Road
96. (3) Mount Idaho-Salmon Meadows Wagon Road
115. (1) Kleinschmidt Grade and Seven Devils
126. (5) City of Rocks and Granite Pass
127. (1) O'Farrell Cabin
143. (15) North Idaho Stage Lines
144. (3) Stage Lines - Boise Basin
145. (3) Stage Lines - Owyhee
146. (2) Stage Lines - Overland and Kelton
147. (1) Stage Lines - Salt Lake - Montana
148. (3) Stage Lines - Yankee Fork, Wood River, and Salmon (Lemhi)
149. (4) Stage Lines - Southwestern Idaho
150. (4) Stage Coach Travel Times
151. (5) Poor Law Legislation
182. (23) Soda Springs
184. (10) Salmon Falls and Thousand Springs
185. (4) Three Island Crossing
187. (3) Rattlesnake Station
189. (3) Exploration of City of Rocks and Granite Pass
215. (3) Gilmore and Pittsburgh Railroad
216. (2) Idaho Central Railroad
218. (1) Boise, Nampa, and Owyhee Railroad
220. (2) Boise Valley Electric Railroads
221. (2) Intermountain Railway
285. (1) Nez Perce Trail
286. (4) The Lolo Trail
287. (4) The Mullan Road in Idaho
288. (1) The Mullan Tree
290. (3) Hudspeth's Cutoff
349. (2) Overland Stage Company Operations at City of Rocks
350. (3) Alexander Ross, Fur Hunters of the Far West (1956), Corrections to Footnotes
436. (1) Brownlee Ferry
465. (19) South Boise Stage Lines

Mining, Merchants, and Industrial Agriculture
3. (1) The Boise City Assaying and Refining Works
4. (1) Four Stages in Idaho's Mining Development
5. (1) Idaho's Gold Production Compared to the United States Total in the Nineteenth Century
6. (1) Idaho Gold Production, 1860-1866
7. (1) Idaho 's Mining History JPG format: Small image; larger image
8. (2) Elias Davidson Pierce and the Founding of Pierce
9. (26) Mining in Idaho
19. (1) Rocky Bar Spanish Legend
20. (2) Thunder Mountain (Short Version or Long Version -35 pages)
283. (1) Black Warrior Mines
64. (1) Idaho Ghost Towns
65. (2) Mining in Idaho
66. (3) Silver Mountain Mines
99. (2) Placer Mining Methods
92. (19) Caleb Lyon of Lyonsdale and The Boise Claim
106. (3) The Boise Claim
160. (2) Silver Mining in Idaho
161. (2) Idaho Silver Production
162. (1) Boise River Placers
163. (1) Boise Ridge Mines
166. (3) Placer Mining in Southern Idaho, 1862-1864
167. (4) Lode Mining in Idaho, 1864-1869
172. (4) The Effect of Mining in the Economy of the Boise Region
173. (4) Lumber in the Boise Region
176. (6) Agricultural History of Boise Valley, 1920-1945
177. (3) Markets for Boise Valley Crops
191. (1) Gold Silver Value Formula
194. (3) Site Report - Pierce-Weippe
195. (3) Site Report - Elk City Region
196. (4) Florence
197. (5) Site Report - Warrens
198. (4) Site Report - Boise Basin
199. (12) Rocky Bar Mines
200. (2) The Owyhee Country
201. (2) Banner
202. (5) Atlanta
203. (2) Leesburg
204. (8) Site Report - Yankee Fork-Robinson Bar
205. (10) Site Report - Cariboo Mountain-Tincup Creek
206. (7) Site Report - Wood River
207. (2) The Sawtooth & Vienna Mining Districts
208. (6) Mackay and Copper Basin
209. (3) Gilmore and the Viola Mining Region
210. (3) Coeur d'Alene Mining Wars
214. (2) The Idaho Farm Workers' Services, Incorporated
223. (2) Deadwood [Mines]
225. (1) Horse Combines in the Palouse Country
296. (2) Snake River Fine Gold
297. (5) Snake River Placers
364. (1) Chinese Mining in Idaho
365. (1) Stanley Basin Mines
366. (3) The Loon Creek Mines
380. (3) Recovery Processes for Idaho Ores
385. (6) Yellow Jacket Mining District
394. (1) Salish Languages in North Idaho & Adjacent Washington and Montana
395. (1) The Names Coeur d'Alene and Pend d'Oreille
396. (3) Reference List of Articles on the Nez Perce Indians in Idaho Yesterdays
431. (1) Pioneer Day
441. (2) The Chinese Massacre at Douglas Bar, Snake River
447. (2) The Coeur d'Alene Mine Labor Problem, 1892-1899
455. (2) J. Marion More: Idaho Mining Pioneer (1830-1868)
456. (1) Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining and Concentrating Co.
468. (5) Calendar of the Idaho State Auditor's Correspondence Relating to the Coeur d'Alene Mine Labor Problem, 1899-1900
472. (1) Mining Districts in Idaho

Idaho Territory (1863-1890)
226. (2) Idaho's First Year, 1863-1864 
2. (1) Date of the Creation of Idaho
11. (1) Counties Which No Longer Exist
12. (1) Territorial Political Conventions 1864-1890
15. (2) Territorial Governors of Idaho
39. (2) The Origin of the Name Nampa
40. (3) Bigfoot
42. (1) Total Votes of Counties in Territorial Elections
46. (2) Territorial Legislative Apportionment
48. (3) Territorial Government in Idaho, 1863-1869
69. (3) Origins of Idaho's County Names
30. (2) Boise City Charter
31. (2) Trees in Early Boise
32. (1) The Name "Boise"
33. (1) The Name "Eagle Rock"
34. (1) The Name "Minidoka"
35. (1) The Name "Moscow"
36. (1) The Name "Owyhee"
37. (1) The Name "Pocatello"
83. (4) Idaho Territorial Administration, 1869-1876
84. (3) Mason Brayman and the Boise Ring, 1876-1888
103. (2) List of Early Post Offices in Idaho
104. (3) Pacific Northwest Boundaries, 1848-1868
107. (7) Theatre in Idaho 100 Years Ago
108. (3) Idaho Before Statehood
112. (1) Alturas County
123. (1) Early Idaho Secretaries in Government Offices
129. (1) Census of 1863
130. (1) Census of 1864
131. (1) Idaho Legislature
132. (4) Idaho's Territorial Capitol
155. (1) Penitentiary and University Locations
156. (1) The Idaho-Montana Boundary Legend
180. (2) Idaho Territorial Government
222. (3) Idaho Centennial Publications
251. (1) John Kelly and Willie, the Snake Indian Boy
252. (1) Idaho Territorial Prison
253. (1) Picket's Corral
255. (1) Meaning of the Name "Pahsimeroi"
258. (1) How Idaho Got Its Name
264. (3) The Creation of the Territory of Idaho
265. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, October 31, 1863
266. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, October 10, 1864
267. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, 1865
268. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, August 13, 1866
269. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, August 10, 1868
270. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, June 6, 1870
271. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 5, 1872
272. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 3, 1874
273. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 7, 1876
274. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 5, 1878
275. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, December 4, 1880
276. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 7, 1882
277. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 4, 1884
278. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 2, 1886
279. (1) Idaho Territorial Election Returns, November 6, 1888
324. (2) Early Idaho County
329. (3) Early Lemhi County
334. (2) Early Nez Perce County
335. (2) Early Oneida County
336. (2) Owyhee County
339. (2) Early Shoshone County
348. (1) Delegates to the Idaho Constitutional Convention
344. (2) Location of Idaho's Territorial Capital
359. (2) The Old Assay Office in Boise
369. (4) Caleb Lyon's Bruneau Treaty, 12 April 1866
370. (1) Original Slate of Territorial Officers 1863
371. (1) Arrival of Territorial Officials in Idaho, 1863
372. (1) The First Idaho Territorial Legislature
373. (2) Cochran, Daniels and the Golden Age
374. (1) Caleb Lyon of Lyonsdale
375. (1) S. D. Cochran's Candidacy for Office
376. (2) Absence of Idaho Territorial Officials-1864
377. (2) Caleb Lyon's Statehood Scheme
378. (2) The Slocum Case
379. (2) Organization of the Idaho Territorial Supreme Court
425. (1) Idaho Centennial Series, Published in Idaho Yesterdays
461. (1) Slaterville and the Founding of Lewiston
467. (13) Legislative Investigation of the Defalcations in the Secretary's Office, January 31, 1866
478. (2) National Issues in Idaho During the Civil War
479. (2) Meeting Places of the Territorial Legislature
480. (5) Fur Trade Era (Idaho)
481. (6) The Founding and Construction of the Penitentiary
482. (3) Idaho Indian Treaty Lands
483. (1) Idaho Indian Reservations

Statehood and Progressive Era
16. (4) State Governors of Idaho
17. (11) United States Senators From Idaho
18. (11) United States Representatives From the State of Idaho
25. (2) Full Names of State Governors
60. (6) Idaho State Emblems
61. (2) Description of the Idaho State Seal By Emma Edwards Green, the Designer
68. (3) Swan Falls Dam
125. (3) Idaho State Song
133. (1) Idaho State Capitol
134. (1) Idaho's State Motto
135. (1) The Idaho State Flag
136. (3) W. E. Borah's Oration at the Funeral of Frank Steunenberg, January 2, 1906
137. (1) Steunenberg Monument Inscription
138. (2) Regulations for Administration of the State Antiquities Act
139. (1) The Eagle On the Capitol
170. (4) Idaho License Plates
171. (5) Early Irrigation Canals Pre-Project Ventures
260. (2) Irrigation in Idaho
399. (1) State Purchasing Agents
429. (1) Idaho's Congressional Election, 1896
448. (2) Salmon Tract Irrigation
457. (1) Idaho Presidential Vote, 1892-1896
473. (1) Idaho Poet Laureates
476. (4) Constitutional Convention and Ratification
477. (3) Inaugural Balls of the Governors of Idaho
492. (2) Boise Electric Plant
494. (1) Atlanta Dam and Power Plant
497. (3) Milner Dam
499. (1) The Idaho National Register Program
500. (1) Boise Natural Hot Water Heating System

From War to War
224. (1) The Idaho Nonpartisan League

20th Century Idaho
109. (2) Idaho Since Statehood, 1890-1965
82. (4) Idaho State Archives
193. (5) Boise Project History, 1920-1945
298. (2) Gold & Silver Production at Atlanta & Boise King, 1932-1956
342. (1) Valley County
445. (18) City & Regional Directories on File at the Idaho State Historical Society
475. (1) Charles Henry Tompkins and the New York Canal

Biographical
400. (3) Norman B. Willey
401. (1) William John McConnell
402. (1) Frank Steunenberg
404. (5) John T. Morrison
405. (1) Frank Robert Gooding
407. (1) James Henry Hawley
408. (2) John Michener Haines
411. (2) Charles Calvin Moore
413. (1) Charles Benjamin Ross
415. (1) Clarence A. Bottolfsen
451. (2) "Teton" Jackson
452. (1) Carl Buck