An extraordinary system of cultural and historical resources.

Idaho at I50

Get Territorial!

Idaho 150 logo

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. 

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 completed several projects.

Lincoln Legacy exhibition: 
A one-of-a-kind exhibit emphasizing and celebrating the Lincoln connection to Idaho in the State Archives.  The twelve-hundred square foot exhibit contains 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:
During the sesquicentennial, the State Historic Preservation Office received a Historic Battlefield Protection Grant to assist in the preservation of the Bear River Massacre site, the only Civil War battlefield in Idaho.  Survey work at the site will be ongoing, but preliminary investigations have located artifacts and a potential lodge site from the time of the battle.  Close collaboration with Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation tribal members and local landowners continues.

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.