A set of campaigns in South Dakota about the 1916 suffrage amendment to the state constitution involved so many intersecting ideas, details, and stories, that I’m going to put the narrative together here in one place. This will focus on the two sets of campaigning led by ‘out-of-staters’ that generated a lot of press. Then, on my other pages I’ll be able to link back to this post for these two big-ticket campaigns, rather than repeating so much on a number of timeline, biography, etc. pages.
At the start of the year 1916… The state legislature in Pierre had passed a bill for a state suffrage amendment at their session in the late winter of 1915. It was put on the ballot for November 1916. The South Dakota Universal Franchise League under president Mamie Shields Pyle of Huron was the most active organization working in support of the bill, with the assistance of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union also supported suffrage, but was simultaneously waging a campaign for a state prohibition amendment that was also on the 1916 ballot. Working against the suffrage amendment was the state’s auxiliary of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, led by Ethel Jacobsen of Pierre, which re-formed in the summer of 1916. For the first five months of the year, suffragists’ activity had been of the slow-and-steady variety. The SDUFL worked on getting local suffrage leagues organized, Pyle canvassed voters for their opinion on the bill, and local speakers like Myra Weller, Mary Maguire Thomas, and Nina Pettigrew made speaking appearances [Mitchell Capital (SD), July 20, 1916; The Herald-Advance (Milbank SD), July 21, 1916].
A number of South Dakota suffragists were connected to the newspaper industry, as owners, co-owners, editors, writers, or suffrage campaign press/publicity chairs. Following are extracts from my biography pages for these women and men, so we can look at this group of professional and amateur people of the press —
So as I’m doing biographical research on people connected to the suffrage movement in South Dakota, there are quite a few that had lives that I found quite fascinating, apart of their suffrage connections. Some, I’ve written about before, like Laura Alderman, The Queen of Orchardists and Kate Boyles Bingham. Here are some other highlights from the biographies I’ve done so far…
James C. Adams (1842-1902) of Webster SD was born in Virginia, and came to Iowa with his parents, where his father was a doctor. Having served in the Illinois 41st infantry regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War, he then went to Mississippi to publish a newspaper with Republican politics—the party of Lincoln. He faced harassment by the KKK and eventually left Mississippi. He went then to Iowa and came to Webster in 1883. He married Irene Drake Galloway in 1887. In 1891, he was appointed to chair the commission that negotiated the opening of unallotted lands on the Yankton Reservation for white settlement.
Ida M. Anding McNeil (1888-1974) of Pierre was chief clerk and then legislative reference librarian of the state historical department in Pierre from 1906 until 1921. In 1927, she received a commercial license for KGFX radio, having started by broadcasting to her rail conductor husband on an amateur radio. She ran the station until 1962. More; Rosemary Evetts, “Dakota Images: Ida Anding McNeil,” South Dakota History 11(2) (1981).
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…
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.
“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.”
I recently ran a search for South Dakota hospitals that have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places for a Facebook post for our office (below), which led me to wonder about what historic photographs of hospitals are in the SD Digital Archives, and what they tell me about that slice of our built history.
The earliest hospitals in the territory were built with early military installations. Once permanent settlement started, many of the early local hospitals were operated in conjunction with doctor’s clinics and often housed in buildings that were large houses in appearance. In days before strict regulations, community health care was also undertaken by pharmacists, osteopaths, homeopaths, and others. The Yankton State Hospital for mental health care was one of the earliest public institutions, followed by the state and federal veteran’s hospitals in Hot Springs and the state tuberculosis sanitarium in Custer. As the profession changed near the turn-of-the-century, larger specialized buildings were erected, looking similar in style to the consolidated schools that were built at the same time. In the 1910s-1930s, even larger facilities were built with wings for different care specialties.
Outside my window is a lot of snow that’s fallen in the last week, so I was curious what South Dakota State Archives’ digital archives had for the best and most interesting historic photographs of snow and snow removal in South Dakota. There were nearly 1,600 results in a search for the word ‘snow’ (although admittedly, many are Preservation Office photographs of historic buildings that just happened to have been taken in the winter).
Snow is a big part of life on the Plains–beautiful, dangerous, and apparently a popular photography subject over the years. I do know it generally makes for good building photographs — no leaves on nearby trees to block anything and a high contrast background. From these historic photos, it looked like heavy snowfalls could be fun in their way, but they also required hard work and ingenuity to clear travel routes. And of course we have our share of winter sports, especially in the recreation and ski areas of the Black Hills.
Here is a list of my favorites from the state digital archives…