“She is and always will be ‘Chief.’”
The first of the “early women” professionals employed at the University of Montana School of Law was Charlotte Hough Russel, the librarian and registrar; she was at the law school from 1924 through 1950. Prior to that, Ms. Russel became Montana “Tech’s first female faculty member, when [she] signed on as librarian and registrar” in 1909.
“Miss Russel Recovers From Illness” — Law School News Items, 6 Dec. 1937
“This fall when the students of the Law School came back for another year’s work, the second and third year students were shocked to learn that the “Chief” had undergone an operation for ruptured appendicitis and that general peritonitis had set in. Realizing that only one out of every ten persons ever recover from such complications the question on the lips of every student for days was, ‘Do you think the “Chief” will pull through?’
Every student missed that cheery ‘Good morning’ and that quiet but firm reminder that certain books were due. The ‘Mother’ of the Law School was gone; there was no one to whom we could turn for advice and help to solve our problems, whether they be problems of law or of love.
This was the first time in ten years that students returned to find ‘Chief’s’ office silent and her chair vacant. This year was to be the beginning of the eleventh year of her association with the Law School and her absence was felt by the faculty as well as the students.
The ‘Chief’ had just returned from a vacation at Lake Louise and Banff and a few days later was taken to Murray hospital in Butte. She was confined to her bed on September 7 and returned to the Law School on October 25.
To the new students and the rest of the campus the ‘Chief’ is Miss Charlotte Russel, but to the students of the Law School she is and always will be ‘Chief.’ Welcome back, Chief, and we hope the flood of overdue books will not cause a relapse!'”
8 July 1957 — Spokesman-Review — “Ex-Law School Librarian Dies; Charlotte H. Russel Held MSU Post 26 Years”
“Charlotte Hough Russel, 72, librarian at the Montana State university law school for 26 years until her retirement in 1950, died today at a Missoula hospital.
Miss Russel was born at Butte. Her father, James Richard Russel, was a pioneer Presbyterian minister in Montana. Her mother, Fannie Forbis Russel, crossed the plains from Missouri to Montana by ox team in 1864.
For many years Miss Russel held the position of registrar and librarian at the Montana School of Mines in Butte. In 1924, she moved to Missoula to accept the position as librarian at the MSU law school.
Her years of service earned her the affectionate title of ‘chief’ with the law students.
Miss Russel is survived by a sister, Mrs. Carl Jordan, Missoula. . . .”
Later that year, the law alumni association instituted a student loan fund in memory of Ms. Russel, who was described as “long-time secretary to the dean of the law school, librarian, and students’ unofficial counselor.”
I would love to hear from anyone with information about Charlotte Hough Russel!