The University of Montana has a long tradition of school spirit, and one important symbol of that spirit over the years has been the UM mascot – always a bear, but not always that fur-costumed ball of energy we know today as Monte. An exhibit tracing the evolution of UM’s mascot is on display in the lobby of the University’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library through October.
The timeline of the display of mascot memorabilia, created by Teresa Hamann of the library’s K. Ross Toole Archives, begins in 1897, when a live bear cub traveled with UM’s football team, then simply known as the “bears.” UM’s football team was renamed the Grizzlies in 1923. The exhibit moves though the numerous live bear cubs who served as University mascots, first named Teddy, then Fessy and finally, in the 1960s, Cocoa. UM’s costumed mascot during the 1980s, dubbed Otto, donned a variety of fun-loving outfits to entertain crowds at Grizzly football games. It wasn’t until 1991 that UM’s mascot became known as Monte, short for Montana.
Even with information contributed by University Relations and the Adams Center Hall of Champions, there are gaps in the Archives’ history of UM’s mascot. The Archives is asking University alumni, staff, faculty members and others to search their scrapbooks and UM treasure troves to help build the library’s collection of photographs, newspaper clippings and other items that document mascot history. For more information about the exhibit, or to donate items or photographs related to UM’s mascot, call Donna McCrea, Head of Archives, at 406-243-4403 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.