Journalist Suffragists in South Dakota

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 —

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Fascinating People from Suffrage Research, part 1

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…

From the Biographies of Women’s Suffrage – A page (more and source links on the Bio pages):

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).

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Suffrage at CHC

The suffrage movement gets a mention a few times in the exhibits of the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre… including on this panel about Rapid City newspaper editor Alice B. Gossage. Keep an eye out on your next visit!

Photograph by author, January 2019.

Songs of Suffrage in South Dakota

In researching the suffrage movement around South Dakota, I have come across several examples of the use of music and songs for the campaigns.  I get the sense that it was a fairly common part of political campaigning in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.  There is at least one book about suffrage songs nationally, Danny O. Crew’s Suffragist Sheet Music: An Illustrated Catalog [2002] (Google Books and WorldCat), and Smithsonian Folkways put out an album in 1958 called “Songs of the Suffragettes.”

These South Dakota examples tell us about our piece of that history…

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Places of Care and Science: Hospital Buildings in South Dakota

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.

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Leora J. Lewis: Leading Librarian

I came across Leora Lewis’ name recently as the director of the SD Free Library Commission in the 1920s and early 1930s, a Commission that had been established in 1913.  As always, I’m curious to dig around for information about historically-significant women…  [and am inexplicably proud of the alliteration in this post title.]

Leora June Lewis was born in 1889 in Pennington County, South Dakota [1930 census; SD Birth Index].  Her parents, Clarence L. Lewis and Mary Helen Benson, were from New York and Pennsylvania respectively [Helen in 1900 census; Mary in 1910 census; 1930 census; SD Birth Index].  Clarence Lewis was an attorney [1900 census; 1910 census].  The family lived at 730 South Street in Rapid City and was relatively well-off –they had a 16-year-old Swedish girl working as a servant in 1900 [1900 census; 1910 census].

Leora Lewis’ professional career began in 1910, when she was appointed librarian at the Rapid City Free Public Library [RCPL Timeline; 1918 city directory].

The first library in town was a reading room set up in 1879 and moved to Library Hall on the corner of 6th and Kansas City Streets in 1881.  In 1903, the Rapid City Public Library became a publically-supported city institution, had its first directors appointed, Rose and Laura Bower and Lillian Nyswanger, and a reading room was set up downtown in 1904.
[“A Brief History, 1879 to the Present,” brochure from Rapid City Public Library, accessed online; “Rapid City Public Library,” South Dakota Library Bulletin 49 (1963), 62].  More about Rose Bower, here.

In 1914-1917, the Rapid City Library under Lewis’ direction erected a new building with support from the Carnegie foundation [“A Brief History, 1879 to the Present,” brochure from Rapid City Public Library, accessed online].  In her position, she would have had a key opinion in the design and layout of the building as she worked on it with the state field librarian, the local building committee, and their architect.

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Snow in South Dakota, SD Digital Archives

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…

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