A collection of history


Robert Svoboda

Robert Allan Svoboda was born in Lewistown, MT Portrait of Robert Svobodain 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.

Robert Svodoba Postcards

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.

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.

Expanding Photo Collection
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 soon.