SD History Conference coming up, April 2020

Just got word —

Online registration is now open for the 2020 SDSHS History Conference, “Looking Back on South Dakota History with 20/20 Vision,” to be held Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, at the Ramkota Hotel in Pierre.

See the schedule at:

And speaker bios at:
… I may be one of them 🙂

Socialism and Suffrage in SoDak

Several Socialist leaders came to South Dakota to campaign for suffrage, and equal suffrage was supported by South Dakota socialists in the 1910s.

Visiting Lecturers and Organizers

In 1898, Ida Crouch-Hazlett (c1870-1941) toured South Dakota for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), but soon after, in 1902, became a prominent organizer and lecturer for the Socialist Party of America. Revealing some of her opinion of class hierarchies, it was reported that she said “that active opposition to the movement has ceased in the state except among classes that have everything to fear from upward social movements” [Turner County Herald (Hurley SD), September 22, 1898The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD)September 23, 1898; et al.]. She spoke often on suffrage as well as Social Reforms [Black Hills Union (Rapid City SD), July 29, 1898; Mitchell Capital (SD), October 7, 1898].

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Visit to “The Right is Ours: Women Win the Vote” at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre

The South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center opened their suffrage history exhibit in mid-November, a couple weeks ago, in their Observation Gallery space–upstairs from the back of their permanent exhibit hall. The center panels are organized by theme, there are some interactive opportunities, profiles of suffragists in lighted panels, and a video on a loop about the national story. Bonus, quality bunting work 🙂

Visit to “The Bottle and the Ballot” Exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum

Recently I was able to visit “The Bottle and the Ballot” exhibit at the Old Courthouse Museum. It covers histories of prohibition and suffrage as Progressive-era women’s movements. I was glad to see a few photographs and local stories from Sioux Falls that I hadn’t had in my notes, and some of the artifacts that connected to stories I knew — it’s always impressive seeing things that were actually there at the time.

If/when you go, let me know what you think!

Sheep in South Dakota, SD Digital Archives

The results of another random foray into South Dakota State Archives’ resources after thinking about suffragist Rose Bower speaking on the Fourth of July at Lodge Pole Butte surrounded by grazing sheep in 1914. [See also: Snow in South Dakota, SD Digital Archives.]

First, from the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office’s historic context, Thomas Witt et al. The History of Agriculture in South Dakota: Components for a Fully Developed Historic Context (July 2013):
Sheep ranching took hold in the Black Hills in the mid-1880s. Cattle and sheep ranching expanded in western South Dakota counties after the federal government divided and reduced the Great Sioux Reservation to expand Euro-American settlement [p.13]. Sheep barns may have been one or two stories; the second story often used as a hay loft. They were characterized by large, open spaces (no stalls), good ventilation, ideally with a “grain alley” for feeding during inclement weather, and perhaps hay and grain racks [p.59-60]. Wool warehouses, where sheep farmers could bring their wool for grading and weighing, were located in urban centers along rail lines, east of the Missouri River. The South Dakota Cooperative operated warehouses out of Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, Huron, Mitchell, and Belle Fourche [p.99].

Thomas Witt et al. The History of Agriculture in South Dakota: Components for a Fully Developed Historic Context (July 2013), 60.
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The Influenza Epidemic in South Dakota, from Suffragists’ Letters

As I’ve been reviewing scanned correspondence about the November 1918 election and its results in the University of South Dakota’s Mamie Shields Pyle Collection, a number of suffragists around the state reported to the South Dakota Universal Franchise League president Pyle about the status of the influenza epidemic in their communities — the work they had been doing in nursing or how the flu put up obstacles to suffrage work. The epidemic hit in the weeks before the election, ruining final campaign plans, and it continued in the time afterwards when the S.D.U.F.L. hoped to raise money to cover their $3,000-4,000 of remaining debts after the campaign.

[September 7, 2019: I’ll post for now and add to this as I find more… I’ve read through correspondence scans from November 1st to 10th, 1918.]

Notes from the collection:

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“Woman’s Sphere,” by Ruth E. Swift, Yankton SD, 1887

I wanted to raise this up, because I like it so much as a piece of writing that I came across during suffrage research. It’s not everything what we’d say today of course, but from a local high school graduate in 1887, I mean…

[9/2019 – I also realize, this essay also proves (130 years ago) the importance of women’s history — her argument hinges on knowing the accomplishments of women who came before her. Tell women’s history to children!!]

Ruth Swift graduated in June 1887 from Yankton High School as one of five women in a graduating class of six people [Press and Daily Dakotaian (Yankton SD), June 4, 1887].

From Press and Daily Dakotaian (Yankton SD), June 24, 1887 [I corrected printing errors in spelling]:

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