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Stephen Ambrose Memorial Lecture Series

Helena author LORNA MILNE will present
A Frontier Photographer and a Naturalist, Evelyn and Ewen Cameron

Thursday, October 10, 2019  -  7:00 pm

In 1889 a genteel Englishwoman and her naturalist partner left England to live along the Yellowstone River in Eastern Montana. Despite the challenges of supporting themselves in an unfamiliar land, Evelyn Cameron became a photographer of note, and Ewen Cameron compiled the first bird lists of the region. Using Cameron’s own journal entries, Milne describes how this resourceful couple pursued their interests and took advantage of local resources, including knowledgeable neighbors, their environment, and the mail service.

Milne is the author of the much acclaimed 2017 biography, Evelyn Cameron: Photographer on the Western Prairie (Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula).  The lecture will be richly illustrated with slides of Cameron’s photos and Milne’s meticulous research.

Lively Times reviewer LK Willis wrote: “Milne deploys wonderful imagery, gleaned from Cameron’s diaries and letters and augmented by the author’s own skillful language use. The biography reflects the beauty of Eastern Montana without glazing over the harsh conditions of that region in the early 1900s. No wonder she was lauded by a contemporary as ‘one of the great wonders of Montana.’ Using Cameron’s diaries, source material and her own deep understanding of the area and its people, the author has crafted a magnificent biographical work, which should appeal to readers of all ages.”

Among the many enthusiastic reviews, a special honor was bestowed on Milne’s first biography when Evelyn Cameron was selected by the Montana Center for the Book as Montana’s entry in 52 Great Reads, featured at the National Book Festival on September 1, 2018.

Milne grew up in eastern Montana, near the Camerons’ homesteads. She writes from Helena, Montana, on a small farm where she lives with her husband, Jon, and a sheep dog named Little Bear, along with assorted cats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and an occasional peacock.  


Milne has published essays and short stories in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, Walking, Orion, Highlights for Children, and The Sun.  In 2019, Milne retired from Carroll College where she taught writing and literature for 30 years. Milne holds a degree in journalism from the University of Montana-Missoula.  She is currently at work on a collection of essays.  Read more at http://lornamilne.com

Copies of Evelyn Cameron will be available for sale and a book signing will follow the lecture.

Watch the video on YouTube!  Our thanks to Helena Civic Television for making this video possible.

Foundation Events

Community Leaders Poetry Reading - Launched in 2008, this free public event celebrates poetry and prose every April with short readings by community leaders representing high school, college, local elected offices, and business and nonprofit organizations. 

Stephen Ambrose Memorial Lecture every fall. Distinguished speakers of late include novelist Jamie Ford (2018), historian Stu Wilson (2017), Bozeman writer Paul R. Wylie (2016), UM Western Professor O. Alan Weltzien (2015), and Billings author Russell Rowland (2014). 

Special author events co-sponsored by the Foundation include Alexander McCall Smith, Timothy Egan, Roz Chast, Mary Jane Nealon, Virginia Reeves, and Jim Robbins.

The Foundation also hosted a Tribute to Ivan Doig in 2015 when his last novel was posthumously published. The event was one of 10 across the country organized to celebrate the release of "Last Bus to Wisdom."

Bi-monthly artist receptions for local artists in addition to participating in Helena's Spring and Fall Art Walks.

The Foundation provides the monetary prizes to the top five winners of the Dear Author student program.

Stay informed about Foundation events on our Facebook page, our website, and our Library Foundation e-mail news (sign up below).

Read about past events in the Year-in-Review newsletters.