Martha Harwood Maxey Bolles Palffy
Alumna, professor of English, entrepreneur
Martha Harwood Maxey Bolles Palffy, a third generation Bozeman native, was born Feb. 10, 1907. She graduated from Gallatin County High School and was awarded a State of Montana English scholarship to attend Montana State College. As a student, Palffy wrote a three-act play, “Masque of the Absaroka,” depicting Crow Indian history. She spent summers establishing indigenous craft co-ops with the Blackfeet and was later adopted into their tribe. Graduating in 1937, Palffy taught in the English department at MSC completing her husband’s contract upon his death. The Martha Bolles Shop opened in 1946 where she employed Ferencz Palffy as head tailor, whom she later married. They designed and produced fine denim and leather western clothing, a first in the U.S. garment industry. Palffy was instrumental in forming the Montana Institute of the Arts, recorded Tipi Tales of Montana Plains Indians, helped organize the Native American section of the McGill Museum (now the Museum of the Rockies) and for years hosted the MSU Chinese Club. Palffy’s life story is described best as scholar, educator, historian, businesswoman, entrepreneur, wife and mother.
Martha Palffy was a resolute Montanan in every sense of the word and a staunch advocate for what we know now as Montana State University.