In 1910, the mother of Montana native Robert Svoboda began saving an assortment of vintage Montana business and legal papers at her family's Lewistown-area farm. Her son assisted her in the effort, but was interrupted for a time when he left to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He assisted in several landing operations throughout the Pacific Theater.
Upon his return from the service Svoboda embarked on a notable career in banking and real estate, acquiring ownership or interests in several financial institutions. He now divides his time between California, Hawaii, and London. But his interest in Montana history never ceased, and he continued to collect Montana historical documents. By 2002 his holdings numbered nearly 10,000 items worth over $340,000. The collection includes military correspondence, Indian affairs transactions, letters from homesteaders, bank records, wildlife predator bounties, livery stable bills of sale, and other items touching on almost every aspect of Montana life from 1864 through 1940.
Seeking a repository for his collection, Svoboda donated the document collection to the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History in 2003. The RMMMH has placed selected items on its website as part of an ongoing effort to make the collection accessible to readers and researchers interested in historical Montana. Nearly a century after a frontier mother began saving a unique assortment of period papers, the modern Internet makes her efforts accessible to an audience far beyond the horizons of her Great Plains farm.