I’ve recently come across a few people concerned with the availability of teacher resources and continuing education for South Dakota history. One was particularly looking for digital and primary digital resources to use with an existing curriculum plan. I have only moderate experience with planning and hosting youth programs and no professional experience with curriculum development, but I do love research and learning about history. Their conversations made me think about whether the digital research sources I use on a regular basis, or come across randomly, could help teach significant South Dakota stories. So this post is thinking out loud about this question… Let me know if anything here is helpful and please do comment with other ideas or great examples of teaching SD history!
Just arrived today! A new book “Conservation on the Northern Plains: New Perspectives,” edited by Anthony J. Amato, and published by the Center for Western Studies, arrived in the mail. I’ve only read as far as the table of contents, but am excited to get into some regional environmental history!
It’s so shiny…
The Cultural Heritage Center museum in Pierre is soliciting input while they plan an upcoming exhibit on South Dakota in the 1970s, even if you’ve never been to the CHC. What defined the era? What would you want to see covered? What would be a glaring omission?
Our capitol city has lost many significant and/or gorgeous buildings. It’s hard to look at some of these archival photographs and think “How did we lose that!?!” Towards the bottom of the list, I’ll run through some of the recent losses–those that had been neglected, damaged, or vacated and cleared to make way for whatever comes next. Then, way at the bottom are citations for frequently used sources, I’ll just put the minimal citation in the text.
For more on Pierre’s surviving historic places and city history: Pierre/Fort Pierre Travel Itinerary from the National Park Service and the Historic Pierre website of the Pierre/Fort Pierre Historic Preservation Office.
Now, here are some (actually, a quite a few) short(-ish) building biographies for a selection of Pierre places that live now only in archive and memory…
I didn’t grow up in South Dakota, but was visiting family recently and had an unanticipated run-in with South Dakota history. We were sitting around their kitchen table and I was listening to stories of all the old photos–every visit I see some of the same photos but there also seems to be something new.
One of my grandparents (well, a step-grandparent) shared a small album that their mother had put together after visiting South Dakota’s Black Hills with her friends in the early 1930s. It was right at the start of the period when the highways to and within the Black Hills, as well as tourist facilities, were being improved and the ‘common folk’ could better access the area for vacation. Needles Highway had been built in the 1920s, but Mount Rushmore would have still been in progress during their trip. The cell phone photos I quickly grabbed of the unlabeled album aren’t great, but it made such an impact that I thought I’d share them anyway. It’s amazing the feeling you get when you find a personal connection to interesting history.
Professionally, I think it’s fascinating that this young woman from a farm in Minnesota first, went on a vacation out to the Black Hills, but second, that she went with four female friends. I would have guessed it to be unusual for five young women to travel that far alone in the 1930s, but maybe I need to check my preconceptions. I wonder if they were school friends, or related? Also: why they went, how long they were there, where they stayed, how they made travel arrangements, whether they had car trouble, what camera they had brought…
I’m working on a couple different posts that are taking a lot of research, so in the meantime, here is a bit of levity. I recently got to visit Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, built in 1936 by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration. It was funny how quickly I anthropomorphized the concrete sculptures. They’re just fun, and the view over the city from Skyline Drive is fantastic. I’m so glad the National Register of Historic Places-listed site has been preserved by the city and its residents. Learn more about the project from the “Dinosaur Park” page on the Living New Deal website.
A while back I did a series of posts on the women included in the 1909 business directory for the city of Sioux Falls. I came across a website with a 1909 list of businesses and their owners for the much smaller city of Faulkton (link here) and thought I’d try the same research experiment with the women listed there. The directory was transcribed by K. Torp from a 1909 published county history by C.H. Ellis. There were several that were hard to find, perhaps they were transient, or married and their marriage record didn’t come up, for whatever reason, on Ancestry.com. Several of the women worked with/for their husbands or fathers, or took over the management of a business after their husband’s death. Then, there was Abbie Jarvis who was known for delivering babies, which was a branch of medicine that I would assume was more accessible for women at the time, but she also was so driven to become a qualified doctor that she went to another city, with her two youngest children, in order to pursue that education. She was the first woman licensed to be a doctor and pharmacist in the state, and proceeded to have a long and respected career.