David Maclay Interview, September 12, 1984


David Maclay


Gladys Peterson



Download Audio Interview (110.7 MB)

Download Transcript of David Maclay Interview (309 KB)


David Maclay tells how his family came to the Bitterroot Valley in the 1880s and farmed and ranched. He describes the effects of the economic depression in 1920-1921, then decade of prosperity during which his father worked hard to build up the ranch. Maclay recalls the devastating impact that the Great Depression (1929-1939), in addition to a severe drought, had on the residents of the Bitterroot Valley. He discusses how the bank took most of the family’s assets, that people from eastern Montana and Dakota traveled to the valley in search of jobs, water, and food. Maclay describes the shacks that these migrants built in East Missoula, Bonner, around Lolo Creek and in various parts of the Valley. Maclay also describes his time working for the U.S. Forest Service, first as a stream treatment specialist and later as the state’s biologist. He talks about getting his degree in biology at the University of Montana and obtaining work study for $25 each semester to live on. Maclay asserts that the Depression would have been shorter without the New Deal programs implemented by the Roosevelt administration. He shares his opinion that people who worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps [CCC], the Works Progress Administration [WPA] and other programs came to expect that the government should help them and not appreciate it.


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Document Type

Oral History


United States Forest Service; Great Depression; New Deal; Bitterroot Valley; Missoula, Montana; Biologist; University of Montana; Great Depression, 1929-1939; Civilians Conservation Corps [CCC]; Works Progress Administration [WPA]; Ranching; Farming; Direct relief; Social welfare programs; Maclay family, Montana; Carlton School; Carlton Church; Maclay Bridge

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Depression Years in Montana Oral History Project, OH 131, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

Digital Publisher

University of Montana-Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 / library.archives@umontana.edu

Oral History Number

OH 131-003, 004

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

2 sound cassettes (60 min.) analog + 1 transcript (21 pp.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

01:30:01 minutes

Local Filename

OH_131_003_004.mp3; OH_131_003_004.pdf

David Maclay Interview, September 12, 1984