Friday, May 15th: History. Nikki Manning reads from her new book Historic Underground Missoula. 7 pm.
Much of Missoula’s history lies beneath the surface. As in many Old West cities, cavernous underground tunnel systems purportedly hid countless nefarious activities, from clandestine prostitution and Chinese opium dens to booze running during Prohibition. These sordid tales captivate today’s residents and beg questions about the city’s furtive past. Did local elite gentlemen mask their carnal habits there? Did John Wayne really use the passageways to run personal errands unnoticed? Author and urban archaeologist Nikki Manning ventures below to reconcile oral history with archaeological data in a fascinating exploration of Missoula’s subterranean labyrinths.
Nikki Manning earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology (with a minor in anthropology) at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. After a time in the corporate world working in human resources and marketing, she returned to graduate school in the fall of 2011 at the University of Montana and completed a master’s degree in anthropology with a concentration in cultural heritage and urban archaeology. Her thesis research focused on the Missoula Historic Underground and exploring how the political and social climate of early Missoula may have affected the use of space and the built environment. Nikki serves on the boards of Preserve Historic Missoula and the Missoula Historic Preservation Commission. She focuses a lot of her energy on historic preservation education and public archaeology. Future goals include earning her PhD in anthropology and continuing research of historic undergrounds and use of urban spaces.