Archive for the ‘Archives and Special Collections’ Category

In the late 1900s to the mid-twentieth century tuberculosis (TB) increased the morbidity and mortality of South Dakota residents especially those confined to asylums, hospitals, and reservations. A marked decrease in cases and deaths occurred by isolating TB patients in sanatoria, better diagnosis methods, and with the advent of chemotherapy agents by the late 1950s.

In response to health threat posed by TB, the National TB Association (NTA) was formed in 1907. A South Dakota chapter organization, the SDTA, was formed in 1925. Much of the funding in South Dakota to enhance TB case finding, health education of students and medical staff, maintain TB statistics, and rehabilitate TB patients was garnered through the sale of Christmas Seals and donations. In South Dakota the organization also ran Camp Wanzer (Pactola, SD, Pennington County) from 1926 until 1949 for underprivileged children to help prevent TB by exposing children to clean air, good food, and a clean environment.

President I. D. Weeks was directly involved in the SDTA first as a board member, then as vice president and finally as president of the SDTA for twenty years from 1946-1966. In Dr. Week’s files at USD Archives and Special Collections, his prominent role in the organization is apparent. During annual meetings sections were devoted to improving methods of preventing the spread of TB and diagnosing and treating patients with TB. An emphasis was place upon the poorer health status among Native Americans that contributed to the spread of TB in reservations.

 A seminal meeting about the status of TB in the United States was held on November 29 – December 2, 1959 in conjunction with the US Public Health Service and the NTA at the Arden House Conference on Tuberculosis (Harriman, NY). The role overcrowding in urban settings was mentioned as well as the use chemotherapy to treat TB patients. Most importantly, the conference attendees recognized that “the social, psychological, and economic aspects of TB were sometimes drastically subordinated to the medical”. As an appreciation of this concept now known as the “social determinants of health” is recognized as contributory to health and disease. Thus, the health status of patients compromised by additional diseases, poverty, and poor access to health care faired worst. In South Dakota, cases of TB among Native Americans in 1958 were 8 times higher than among Caucasians.

As the number of cases of TB plummeted in South Dakota by the 1950s (https://doh.sd.gov/documents/diseases/infectious/TB/2020TuberculosisControlProgram_AnnualReport.pdf), the SDTA morphed into the SD Tuberculosis and Health Association (SDTHA) focusing on lung diseases caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as well as those related to behavioral consequences such as smoking and poor air hygiene associated with air pollution in environmental and work settings. Throughout this transition, I. D. Weeks, as president of the organization, promoted lung health through education, use of tuberculin tests and X-rays to detect TB, and the publication of the Health-O-Gram that provided information about cases and deaths associated with lung disease and progress made in fighting lung disease in South Dakota.

In 1973 the SDTHA became the SD Lung Association, a chapter of the American Lung Association. The following year Dr. I. D. Weeks received the Agnes M. Holdridge Award for his long-term promotion of lung health. This highest award of the SD Lung Association was named after Agnes M. Holdridge who spent over 40 years promoting lung health in South Dakota.  As USD president for 31 years, I. D. Weeks was known for his leadership in education and of the University of South Dakota. As documented in his files, I. D. Weeks also needs to be remembered and recognized as a leader in the fight against lung disease in South Dakota.


President I. D. Weeks (Coyote Yearbook, 1940).

Letterhead of the South Dakota Tuberculosis and Health Association (I. D. Weeks files).

Chest X-raying of USD students (The University of South Dakota Photography Collection: Preserving our Past in Images, 1930-1999, Sarah Hanson, Curator, 2005)

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While working on the University of South Dakota (USD) Photograph Collection: Historical Series, I noted an image of a house labelled Home Management House. With some research, I discovered that the Home Management House was used as part of the Home Economics curriculum from 1957 through the spring semester of 1966 for senior level students. According to the course catalogue description, students taking the Home Management House course lived in the house for six weeks and dealt with “problems that arise in a home”.

As part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Home Economics was started at USD in 1913. In the 1930s attempts to eliminate it were thwarted. However, in 1966 Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Elbert Harrington phased out the Departments of Home Economics and Applied Sciences, seeing them as vocational programs with possible duplications of programs at other schools of higher learning in South Dakota*.

Although USD Archives Home Economic files described in detail that with the dissolution of these two programs, furniture and other items were dispersed to several departments within the University, what happened to the Home Management House was not noted. The picture of the building in this blog was taken in January 1966 at the time the Home Economics Department was in its last semester.

Additional research indicates that the house currently exists as a single-family dwelling located 409 North Plum Street, not far from the USD campus. Few people remember that the structure was part of the Home Economics program of study at USD that lasted for over 50 years.

*Cedric Cummings, Robert C. Hildebrand, and Stephan R. Ward. The College of Arts and Sciences 1882-1982, A History. College of Arts and Sciences, 1982, University of South Dakota.

Photograph of the Home Management House taken in 1966. USD Photograph Collection: Historical Series

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Southern Dakota was one of the first railroads in Dakota Territory, and the first to successfully operate in the area that would become the state of South Dakota. The tracks began in Sioux City in 1872 and reached Vermillion, Dakota Territory at the end of that year. In 1873, the tracks were completed to Yankton, Dakota Territory. 

map showing Dakota Southern Railroad from Sioux City to Yankton
Map showing Dakota Southern Railroad from Sioux City to Yankton.
    Students arriving in Vermillion by train utilized the Milwaukee/St. Paul Railroad.
Students arriving in Vermillion by train.

Six men standing for their picture at the train station in Vermillion, South Dakota.
Six men standing for their picture at the train station in Vermillion, South Dakota.

All sources for this post are in the Archives and Special Collections.

Information from South Dakota’s Railraods [sic]: an Historic Context, by Hufstetler, Mark, and Michael Bedeau. South. Dakota State Historical Society, 1998. The book is the the South Dakota State Documents Collection. Map shown is a small portion of Territory of Dakota, by S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr., 1879. The map is in the Chilson Collection. Photographs are from the USD Photograph Collection and are also in the Digital Library of South Dakota.

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Come visit us and check out the view from our new space in the library at the University of South Dakota.

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Veronica Knippling

            What happens to a collection after it is donated to the Archives? Thousands of papers, receipts, envelopes, tickets, and magazines came to me in folders, stacked in boxes, and initially overwhelmed me. I had never received an assignment such as this prior to being honored as a U.Discover Scholar. As a student, I encounter secondary sources in the form of journal articles all the time, but it’s rare to come across a primary source, even in digital format. To have 13 boxes full of primary source material to sort through has been a challenge, but a fruitful one. The more I’ve learned about Wilber Stilwell, the morepassionate I’ve become about my job as a researcher. 

            I started sorting through the boxes, folder by folder, page by page. I was quickly familiarized to a name that I’ve heard often during my time here at the University of South Dakota: Wilber Stilwell. Wilber was a professor and Department Chair at USD for over 30 years, but that’s only the beginning of his story and legacy. 

            To start establishing points of interest, I bookmarked information that piqued my curiosity, all the while trying to develop a greater understanding of Wilber. He won a Medal of Honor, hand gifted to him from Lady Bird Johnson, for his dedication to art education. Where did this passion for art education begin? Wilber was an enthusiastic inventor. What planted the seed of innovation? I wished to see the bigger picture. 

            After this part of the project, comes the digitization process. Each folder will be described to ensure efficient search and retrieval efforts for scholars and researchers who wish to consult the “Stilwell Papers” as a resource. Whether they are interested in Wilber as a Regionalist artist, or an educator, or the inventor of the “Safe-T-Scissors,” they will be able to find it with the click of some buttons. Prior to this project, the “Stilwell Papers” were thousands of pages without descriptors, difficult to navigate with any certainty. With the description and digitization process, those who wish to utilize the resource will be able to do so much more efficiently.

            All the while, I have kept a meticulous research journal, developing my premature ideas as more concrete themes. The four to arise are Wilber as an Educator, Advocate, Inventor, and Artist. In future blog posts, I will describe each of these themes with more detail, telling the story of Wilber Stilwell. Keep an eye out!

            An opportunity that has truly helped my research blossom is the U.Discover Summer Scholar Program, which is open for application to all undergraduate students. The grant provides a generous stipend and freedom to conduct your research as necessary. Research was very intimidating to me before this process, until I was encouraged by my faculty mentor, Dr. Lauren Freese, to step out of the box. I had preconceptions about what research needed to look like. I was pleasantly surprised to unveil the possibilities that this grant can cover.

            This isn’t to say that this summer hasn’t proven to be a challenge; it certainly has. Time management, critical thinking, and creativity have been skills that I have had to develop more thoroughly. Connecting the dots between the different milestones of Wilber’s life has been difficult, but so worthwhile. I feel like I’ve jumped into a time machine and been dropped into a tumultuous period of uncertainty; filled with war, societal disparities, a lack of appreciation for educators, and a difficult state economy. I’ve been able to develop a greater appreciation not only for Wilber, but for all educators, past and present, who have made my time at USD possible and enjoyable. 


Here’s a link to the finding aid for the collection I’m researching.


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Archives and Special Collections will be closed for renovation/expansion from May 14th, 2021 to January 01, 2022. Patron services will be limited.

If you need additional information please contact the Archives at speccoll@usd.edu.

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The Story of the Coyote: A Visual History of USD Athletics was curated by Leah Dusterhoft, BFA Fine Arts – Graphic Design ’21 as part of an art history independent study course taught by Art History Professor Dr. Lauren Freese. Dusterhoft is a USD Student-athlete, throwing the discus for the track and field team during her time at USD. Since the fall of 2019, she has worked as a graphic design intern for the Sports Information Department, making graphics for social media.

The exhibition is on view through August 6th in the I.D. Weeks Library, 2nd floor.

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Recently added to the Archives and Special Collections website are instructions for navigating and searching through finding aids on ArchivesSpace:

The Archives and Special Collections department is moving our Richardson Collection finding aids to ArchivesSpace. Though the physical location and the format of the finding aids are changing, you can continue to access the finding aids through the Archives and Special Collections website.

We also added to our website instructions for navigating and searching in ArchivesSpace. The instructions can be found by clicking on the line “Finding Aids (collection guides)” on our website.

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and that the Archives and Special Collections is not a scary place.

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