Biographical / Historical
Edward Boos was born in Kentucky on April 1, 1877. While he was in grade school, his family moved to Helena, Montana. He attended the University of Montana at Missoula in 1896 but did not complete a degree. In that same year, Boos began working as a freelance correspondent for several newspapers in the Missoula area. During the summer of 1897, Boos accompanied the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps on its experimental overland trip from Fort Missoula to St. Louis, Missouri to prove bicycles could replace horses for troop transport and reconnaissance. The company traversed 1,900 miles over difficult terrain and through taxing weather conditions. As they traveled, Boos wrote accounts of the expedition that were published by the Daily Missoulian, newspapers along the route, and national and international newspapers.
After the Bicycle Corps expedition, Boos continued to produce photographs for western Montana newspapers. Around 1900, he purchased his own camera, and began photographing people and landscapes in the Missoula and Flathead valleys. Boos was particularly interested in documenting life among the Kootenai, Salish and Pend'Oreille families of the Flathead Reservation. Between the spring and fall of 1905, he conducted a series of photographic portrait sessions at various sites across the reservation. According to a 1935 newspaper story, Boos developed many of these photos at night under a canvas cover so that he could share the portraits directly with his subjects.
In 1906, Boos accepted an advertising manager position with the Missoula Mercantile Company (MMC) and married Annie Hammond, cousin of MMC co-owner Andrew Hammond. While accepting this position marked the end of his newspaper contributions, Boos continued to periodically take photographs of the Missoula and Flathead Lake areas as a hobby. Boos remained with the Missoula Mercantile Company for the next thirty-one years. In September 1935, an "Indian Jubilee" celebration was held in St. Ignatius, Montana. This event was the first public exhibition and print sale of Boos' Flathead Reservation portraits. Boos died of a heart attack on September 26, 1937.
Biographical note adapted from the entry "Edward H. Boos photographs, circa 1900-1908" on Archives West, Orbis Cascade Alliance.