Doig’s archives coming home to Montana


The late Ivan Doig.

Montana State University officials announced Wednesday that the papers of novelist Ivan Doig will return to the state. The beloved novelist’s archives will be housed at the MSU Library and be made available for public examination as well as being incorporated into the research and scholarly activities at the school.

“Few times in our lives we have an opportunity to witness a transformational event,” MSU President Waded Cruzado said in a statement released by the school. “This is exactly what the acquisition of the Doig collection represents for our library and for Montana State University. The Doig collection will continue to establish Montana State University not only as a great school in agriculture and STEM, but also as a land-grant university fully committed to the humanities.”

Carol Doig, widow of the celebrated writer, who died in April at age 75, said she chose MSU over two major West Coast universities as a location for the archive.

“Ivan’s archive is coming home,” Carol Doig said in the release. The collection will include her husband’s manuscripts, file cards, drafts, slides, tapes and other materials.

MSU indicated that 26 people—including scholars and regional authors—wrote in support of the school’s bid for the collection. Billings novelists Carrie La Seur and Craig Lancaster, who participated in an event honoring Doig last month at the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, were among the writers lending their voice to the effort.

“I’m very grateful for Carol’s generosity, and it’s fitting for Ivan’s papers to find their permanent home in Montana,” La Seur said Wednesday.

Doig, who grew up in White Sulphur Springs and Dupuyer, published 16 volumes of fiction and non-fiction, the last of which—the novel “Last Bus to Wisdom”—was released last month and currently sits on the New York Times bestseller list. His first book, “This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind,” a memoir published in 1979, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Doig held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University and a doctorate in history from the University of Washington. He was a former editor of The Rotarian magazine before turning to writing books. In 2007, Doig won the prestigious Wallace Stegner Award, named for the fellow prominent novelist and Western historian.

Kenning Arlitsch, dean of the MSU Library, said the library will digitize the entire collection and make it available to the public on the Web as well as in print in the library’s Special Collections and Archives.

“By committing Ivan’s archive to MSU, Carol Doig is placing immense trust in the institution and its people,” Arlitsch said in the release. “Our proposal to Carol was unique in that it offered a partnership of the MSU Library and the College of Letters and Science that will ensure open access to print and digital versions of the collection, as well as integration with MSU’s teaching and research programs.”

Nicol Rae, dean of the MSU College of Letters and Science, said the college is making plans for a scholarly conference on Doig’s legacy to be held in 2017.

Arlitsch said that funding the acquisition will be made possible, in part, by a lead gift to the MSU Alumni Foundation by longtime MSU Library supporters Jim and Sue Hamilton of Bozeman.

“We are grateful to Carol Doig for entrusting this extraordinary collection to MSU, and we were delighted to participate in the collaborative effort to make the acquisition,” the Hamiltons said in an emailed statement.

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