Digital Research Tools 2

For histories of science, environment, and agriculture, SDSU has their Agricultural Experiment Bulletins from 1887 and Research Station reports from 1961 posted online, as well as other department reports and publications.  The website is called Open PRAIRIE, link to earliest Bulletins here.

There are a ton of archival resources outside the state that give us insight into South Dakota history.  The New York Public Library has an amazing archive and has made many of their collections available digitally.  See the 104 results that I found searching for “South Dakota” at this link here.

Historic maps can be critical research tools, but also super fun.  The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection is infamous and the 158 results for South Dakota include published atlases as well as exploration maps, territorial maps, railroad maps, soil maps, and tourist maps–link here.  Then, the US Geological Survey recently made historical topographic maps available in a new user-friendly platform, link here.

Cora B. Johnson and Other Mount Rushmore Critics

Cora Babbitt Johnson was the editor of the Hot Springs Star newspaper in the 1920s and an outspoken voice of opposition against the construction of Mount Rushmore from the year it was proposed by state historian Doane Robinson in 1924.   Reading through Robinson’s papers archived at the South Dakota State Historical Society (and digitized) there were several opponents that he corresponded with to try to convince them of the value of the project.  Most were upset with the idea of interfering with nature, with spoiling a work of God, or with the commercial development of the Black Hills.

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For Further Reading

I’ve saved up a few articles that I found absolutely fascinating over the last month or two.  They’re a wide range of topics from scientific ethics , environmental history methodology, the community created at a WWII ordinance depot, to relabeling monumental Modern architecture…

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History as Parable

"Farm Security Administration-Resettlement Administration: Vernon Evans family leaving South Dakota drought area for west." c.1935. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR), 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY, 12538-1999. NARA, ARC ID #196413.

“Farm Security Administration-Resettlement Administration: Vernon Evans family leaving South Dakota drought area for west.” c.1935. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR), 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, NY, 12538-1999. NARA, ARC ID #196413.

In The Public Historian’s August 2014 issue, David Glassberg’s article “Place, Memory, and Climate Change,” spoke to the need for public historians to engage with communities coping with changing climates that will disorient and be psychologically difficult for residents seeing coastlines fall below oceans, drought, frequent intense storms, and more.  He uses the term “parable” for those histories with the power to affect society as a whole in terms of attitude and action.  While public historians are well poised to create environmental histories with public reach and narrative intent, would the scope of a “parable” mean something new?

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Upcoming SD History conference

To kick things off, I’m psyched about the South Dakota State Historical Society 2015 conference, “Prairie to Pines: People and their Environment in South Dakota.”  May 29-30, Ramkota RiverCenter, Pierre.

I’m really excited for the two keynotes: David Grettler (Northern State University) “Man and Nature: An Edible Introduction to Environmental History” and David Nesheim (Chadron State College, NE) “The Science of Dispossession: Black Bass, Fireweed, and the Yankton Sioux Reservation.”  There are also awesome field sessions planned for Saturday to get out and see environmental history in person at the Oahe Dam, an old CCC camp on Farm Island, and the Buffalo Interpretive Center.

Upcoming SDSHS History Conference, May 29-30, 2015, Pierre.  http://history.sd.gov/aboutus/HistoryConference/PrairieToPines/default.aspx

See full schedule and register at: http://history.sd.gov/aboutus/HistoryConference/PrairieToPines/default.aspx

See you there!