Women of the Century (1893) – The South Dakota stories

In suffrage research, I’ve found a few South Dakota suffragists profiled in the book: Frances Willard and Mary Livermore, eds., American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with over 1,400 Portraits, vol. 1, New York: Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick, 1893, and there are a few others in the book who spent part of their lives in South Dakota. So I thought I’d pull a list of those women included with the book’s description of their South Dakota connections (including the suffragists’ profiles from those pages of this site)…

Given the authors, there’s a heavy bias towards women who were active in religious or temperance work. I don’t know anything about their selection criteria. There is a nice index at the end organized by profession or occupation. Makes me wonder, despite shortcomings or biases, how many books there were in the nineteenth-century that approached women’s contributions this way…

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What I’m Reading 11

This set of recent good reads are just some interesting histories from edge to edge: a recent Atlas Obscura article about Sioux Falls’ divorce colony history, and a blog post from SD AIA about the architecture of fire lookout towers in the Black Hills.

The Legendary, Lavish Dinner Parties of South Dakota’s Divorce Colony,” Atlas Obscura, February 2019.
One of the articles quoted from the period is a 1908 article in American Magazine by George Fitch that is on GoogleBooks: “Shuffling Families in Sioux Falls: How a Little Town has become a Big City through its Divorce Industry.” [American Magazine 66(5) (September 1908), 442-451].

Lookout Architecture in the Black Hills,” April 2019, on Blueprint South Dakota, a blog from SD AIA. Cool structures and a great chance to learn about them, because they’re not super-accessible.

And some north-central stories in the newest historic preservation issue of South Dakota History, Brad Tennant’s “‘In the footsteps of the pioneer’: Ethnic Settlers and Their Churches in Brown County” and Robert J. Couser’s “Burckhard’s North Side Bakery of Aberdeen: A Community Staple for Four Generations.”

My copy of the issue 🙂

Building the Capitol in Pierre

Was back again in the South Dakota Digital Archives (from the State Archives) and noticed that there are several photographs up that were taken during the construction of the state capitol building in Pierre—so sometime between 1905 and 1910. It’s so cool to have construction photos of any building, but it makes sense that even at that early date, there were photographers watching the progress of a state capitol. I noted some of the things I see in the photographs. What do you see?

Photo by author, 2017
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Women in Business, Lemmon 1909

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, so here are mini-histories of women listed in the business directory for 1909 for Lemmon, Perkins County, South Dakota (per this usgwarchives.net site quoting the “South Dakota State Business Directory,” published by The Gazetteer Publishing Co., Denver, Colorado). As displayed in a search through the 1910 census, there were certainly more women working in Lemmon at the time that weren’t in the directory. There might also be some in the directory that I missed because they weren’t listed with a Miss/Mrs. or with a gender-explicit name.

Lemmon was founded in 1906, after George Ed Lemmon got land leased to him from the Standing Rock Reservation in 1902 [“Lemmon, South Dakota,” Wikipedia]. So three years from its founding, it was still a very young town. According to the directory, Lemmon already had a population of 1,350. The women’s histories do indicate a transient population common in new communities–few appeared in the 1920 census for Lemmon, if I could even find them in the 1910 census. Luckily, two local papers were available on Chronicling America-LOC for the 1908-1912 and 1912-1917 periods, but coverage of most was still minimal.

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What I’m Reading 10

Some super coverage from Teen Vogue recently of historic sites and their problems, and how we historians, managers, staff, and volunteers at historic sites need to f-ing do better —

Benji Hart’s “What to Expect When Visiting a Plantation Where Your Ancestors Were Enslaved” (February 5, 2019) is incredibly powerful. I’ve written and re-written comments I can put here about it, but it’s really just… just read it.

I have found some words — Read it especially if you steward a historic places. And this should resonate beyond plantation homes–we in South Dakota have many places of pain, hard and unfair labor, broken families, violence, death… We should be aware of the need for treating those realities as realities, getting the tone of our space and interpretation right, providing space/time for mourning, too. When we feel the need to push our historic sites too far into tourist sites, making them ‘fun’ for fun’s sake, making them a business, or a game — Realize what that can do to them…

I’m ashamed the author has to give advice like “Be prepared to witness people ignoring and even reveling in your pain.”

I appreciate their encouragement for others not to feel the need to be polite, to feel what they feel without apology, to “reclaim” space during time at the site…

Quotes from the article: “as a new wave of young Black people attempts to learn more about its heritage, some of the only places available for us to look are sites of deep violence and trauma…. When we arrived, we didn’t find solemn ground… Be prepared to enter a site that makes no space for mourning, and papers over atrocities with benign language.”

“Though it was one of the hardest trips I’ve ever taken, I’m grateful to have new connections to my ancestors; to be able to say the names of my own people that survived enslavement.”


And then Somáh Haaland’s, “How Museums and Historical Spaces Disrespect Native American History” (February 19, 2019) is another excellent comment on the crap ways that native history gets told at historic places, put into stark relief against her mother Deb Haaland’s recent election to the U.S. Congress.

“I was suddenly brought to tears, both by the thought of pre-colonization and by the concept that this is how Indian people are still showcased: as primal, exotic attractions. These people, my people, continue to be talked about like far-off legends who lived in the past and no longer exist.”

“So many children grow up learning this Eurocentric, masculine, biased version of history, and they have to wonder where they fit in if they are not shown that their identity is valid.”

Props to Teen Vogue for publishing these great articles… they’re gonna hang with me a long time.

History is important.
Do history with accuracy, relevance, inclusion, thoughtfulness, and respect.

2019 South Dakota State History Conference

Just saw the description of the keynote for this year’s upcoming state history conference on their Facebook event page. The conference will be put on by the South Dakota State Historical Society, in Pierre, April 26-27, 2019.

Keynote Address – “At Your Fingertips: South Dakota History Through Historic Newspapers and More at the Library of Congress” with Deborah Thomas. Deborah Thomas from the Serial and Government Publications Division of the Library of Congress will share about the historic South Dakota newspapers in Chronicling America, as well as other digital collections at the Library of Congress that feature South Dakota content.

As is surely known by anyone who has followed this page, or has read almost anything on the page, I LOVE Chronicling America to a nearly unhealthy degree. I’m super-psyched for this year’s history conference!

Find out more information about the conference, including registration information on the SDSHS Conference website, here.

Needles in Haystacks: South Dakota’s History in Random Collections

It is hard to find archival materials about South Dakota when they’re not in South Dakota collections… or major national collections like the Library of Congress… but such is the way of archives. Sometimes, there is good stuff tucked away in strange corners.

One example I found recently, with great thanks to WorldCat.org, is the set of images from the Goodyear Co. in the university libraries of the University of Akron, mostly from Pickstown and Mitchell in 1951, including images of the dealerships/service stations in those communities, as well as images of the Fort Randall dam under construction.

In the past, I have come across these others as well:

I’ll add others here as I find them:

What are others that you have used??