Archive for July 6th, 2020

Autobiographies by Lewis Akeley and Edward Churchill have vivid descriptions and fun stories centered around their teaching experiences at the University of South Dakota. Akeley’s book covers approximately 1887 to 1933. Churchill’s book covers approximately 1920 to 1961.

My favorite stories are Churchill’s description of the campus in 1920 and how it felt to teach evolution after the Scope’s trial of 1925.



Map from 1920-1921 USD Catalog.  Campus boundaries are Cherry Street to the north, Pine Street to the east, Clark Street to the south, and Dakota Street to the west.


For a more general second-hand account of USD in the 1920s, see Cedric Cummins’ book University of South Dakota, 1862-1966. He has an entire chapter on the 1920s and covers a breadth of topics. I particularly like his descriptions of student life and sports activities.

All three books are in the USD Archives and in I.D. Weeks Library. Also, the Archives and Special Collections has the papers of Akeley, Churchill, and Cummins.

Akeley, Lewis E. This is what we had in mind: early memories of The University of South Dakota. Vermillion, SD: The University of South Dakota, 1959. Call number LD5073 .A6.

Churchill, Edward P. Three thousand coyotes and I: memoirs of a zoology professor. State University of South Dakota. Vermillion, SD: State University of South Dakota, 1962. Call number QL31 .C54 A3.

Cummins, Cedric. The University of South Dakota, 1862-1966. Vermillion, SD: Dakota Press, 1975. LD5073 .C85x.

If you are curious about a later period of USD history, check out the oral histories by Chuck Estee.

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