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.

From the Missouri Valley Regional Preservation Conference

The 2018 Missouri Valley Regional Preservation Conference planned by the Clay County Historic Preservation Commission was a wonderful chance for people across state boundaries to learn from each other.  It also featured this excellent keynote address by Donovan Rypkema, as taped by South Dakota Public Broadcasting, about the economic effects of historic preservation.

Thanks also to Clay County and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund for financial support.

From the 2018 SDSHS Conference, part 2

Last week I attended the 2018 annual conference of the South Dakota State Historical Society, organized by the staff of its Archaeological Research Center (ARC), and held at the Ramkota hotel in Rapid City.  These are my notes from the presentations (day 2) – they’re not exhaustive, but hopefully useful to someone besides myself.  Towards the end of the second day, I fell a bit short in my note-taking because of conference-fatigue, so pardon any shortcomings.

If any of the presenters find this page and catch mistakes I’ve made, please let me know. Continue reading

From the 2018 SDSHS Conference, part 1

Last week, I was able to attend the 2018 annual conference of the South Dakota State Historical Society, organized by the staff of its Archaeological Research Center (ARC), and held at the Best Western Ramkota hotel in Rapid City.  These are my notes from the presentations (day 1) – they’re not transcriptions, just points I wanted to remember, but hopefully useful to someone besides myself.

If any of the presenters find this page and catch mistakes I’ve made, please let me know.

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Photograph by author, April 27, 2018.


The first two presentations of the conference were given under the theme: “The Long View: Archaeological Perspectives on Diversity.” Continue reading

Upcoming State History Conference

Information on the 2016 South Dakota History Conference in Pierre has been posted online, link here.  The conference theme is “Everyone Eats” on South Dakota food heritage.  There are links to the schedule and speakers, and to registration forms.  Early registration goes until April 8, and the conference itself is April 29-30.

The keynote speaker will be Susan Evans McClure, Director of Smithsonian Food History Programs at the National Museum of American History.  Other topics are on brewing history (by the state archives’ Ken Stewart), restaurants (by South Dakota Magazine editor Bernie Hunhoff), heirloom recipes, Germans-from-Russia foodways, the pioneer kitchen, harvesting food and medicine by Sioux tribes, Sioux Falls drive-ins, and SDSU ice cream.

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Days 2 & 3 of DOCOMOMO-US National Symposium in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Stopping for photos on the landscapes tour-- the reflection was too perfect.

Stopping for photos on the landscapes tour– the reflection was too perfect.

Now that I’ve had time to process the conference, have returned from subsequent trips, and have (sort of) caught up at work, the following is my brief run-down of days 2 and 3 of the DOCOMOMO-US national symposium.  Minnesota has a great deal of Modern treasures and a seemingly solid group of advocates who love Modernism.  An interesting theme was the impact of the world wars on the prominence of Modernism – there were the expressionists and Bauhaus after WWI, and at Mt. Zion Temple, Christ Church Lutheran, and at St. John’s Abbey, we learned that it was the end of WWII that pushed those communities to be willing to break with tradition and create a new order for their built environment.

On the second day, some of my first-day concerns were met when we spent more time on the modern vernacular – how Modernism played out across the many scales of our built environment.  A speaker from the MN State Historic Preservation Office talked on Modern preservation in greater Minnesota (outside the Twin Cities) and the author of Mid-Century Mundane spoke about that site and a newer project he worked on for Queens Modern.  Both were successful as glimpses into other places, as preliminary documentation and advocacy, but fell short of a bigger context that could provide a foundation for identification and evaluation elsewhere.  More work to do for all of us!  Another presentation promoted the need to look at urban renewal history, and evaluate its strongest architectural legacy that is worth preserving.  There’s a strong potential for such study in Sioux Falls I think…

On to the tours and photos and lessons-learned at the end of it all!

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Day 1 at the DOCOMOMO-US National Symposium

Beautiful light onto the altar.  Jehovah Lutheran Church, photograph by author.

Beautiful light onto the altar. Jehovah Lutheran Church, photograph by author.

Today has been a fascinating day.  Initial thoughts: The DOCOMOMO-US symposium is full of passionate, welcoming people with a wide breadth of knowledge on late-twentieth century and recent architecture, but it has also reinforced what a niche it still is.  Perhaps that’s largely a matter of its youth.  Like earlier time periods in architectural history, architects are the first major source of support.  Each era has taken time to be embraced by wider audiences and to extend beyond landmark buildings.  Many attendees are preservationists or preservation architects, but the masterworks are the focus of content – not vernacular/popular modernism or non-urban modernism (at least not in Day 1).  There was one presentation calling attention to the legacy of ‘forgotten’ local architects, which was a call that resonated with me.  The speaker encouraged the audience to go back to primary sources to fill in the gaps that have yet to be enshrined in monographs and textbooks.

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