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Archive for the ‘Richardson Collection’ Category

Although both the W. H. Over Museum and the National Music Museum (NMM) have distinctly different items they collect and the NMM is part of the University of South Dakota (USD), whereas the W. H. Over Museum resides on the USD campus, but is not part of USD, at one time both called the Carnegie Library building home.

The USD Carnegie Library construction was finished and occupied in 1911 when USD enrollment was 425 students according to Cummins’ book (Cummins, Cedric C. The University of South Dakota, 1862-1966. Vermillion, SD: Dakota Press, 1975). By the later part of the 1930’s USD student enrollment doubled, and President I. D. Weeks promoted the enlargement of the building.  On Thursday, October 10, 1940, dedication exercises for the expanded library were held. The major addition, constructed of Indiana Bedford limestone, doubled the capacity of the building.

Twenty years later, enrollment doubled yet again necessitating the construction of a new library on campus. This would become the I. D. Weeks Library. In 1967 President Weeks suggested that the W. H. Over Museum, founded in 1883 by the Board of Regents known as the University Museum, occupy the old Carnegie Library building. The Over Museum had occupied several sites on campus including University Hall, the Science building, and the basement of Slagle Hall.

 In 1967, not only did Over call the Carnegie building the Over Museum’s home, but space was given to a newly hired music professor, Arne B. Larson who brought with him over 2,000 instruments. Most instruments were initially stored in Old Main.  In addition, prominent Yanktonai Dakota artist and professor Oscar Howe had his studio and a gallery in the Carnegie building. He was also assistant director of the W. H. Over Museum. 

In 1973, Andre’ Larson, Arne Larson’s son, founded and became director of the Shrine to Music Museum and the Center for the Study of the History of Musical Instruments which included his father’s collection donated to the University of South Dakota. Andre’ Larson was a consummate collector of rare and important musical instruments, books, documents, and other ephemera.

By the early 1980’s the Shrine to Music Museum was expanding and President Joseph McFadden did not renew the Over Museum’s lease for the occupancy of the Carnegie building in 1984. In addition, in 1980 Oscar Howe retired from the University and in 1983 passed away. The consequences were that the Shrine to Music Museum acquired the entire Carnegie building (AMIS newsletter Vol. xv, No.2, June 1986, Dedication of the renovated Shrine to Music Museum). By contrast, Friends of the W. H. Over Museum, raised funds to build a new museum located east of the DakotaDome. The Chair of the fundraising committee for nine years (1984-1993) was General Lloyd Moses.  In 2001, the Shrine to Music Museum changed its name to the National Music Museum and in 2018 major renovations to the Carnegie building commenced including construction of a new wing. In 2022, a ribbon cutting signaled the completion of the construction project, although developing the exhibits in the Carnegie building is ongoing.

In 2023, the W. H. Over Museum will celebrate its 140th year and the NMM its 50th year. Stay tuned for their celebrations.

Photograph thanks to Dr. Margaret Banks illustrating the enlarged Carnegie Library building in 1983 when it served as home for the Shrine to Music Museum, the W. H. Over Museum, and Oscar Howe’s Gallery. Note the lighter limestone addition to the rear of the original building.

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Read about the Archives and Special Collections new digitization project in the latest issue of South Dakota Magazine (September/October 2022).

We have added three items to the Digital Library pertaining to early Dakota Territorial history:

1st Dakota Cavalry, Company A, descriptive book, Captain Nelson Miner


Descriptive book of Company A of the 1st Dakota Calvary (U.S. Army) containing soldiers’ names, physical traits, places of birth, and dates of enlistment. The descriptive book dates from the Civil War era and serves as a roster of the men who enlisted to serve in the Dakota Territory between 1862 and 1865. Organized in 1862 during conflicts between Indigenous peoples and settlers, Company A mustered out in 1865.

Scrapbook of newspaper clippings, 1863-1864, John Blair Smith Todd


A scrapbook of newspaper clippings, 1863-1864, reflecting the history of the Dakota Territory, especially the military and political events of the territory. John Blair Smith Todd, a delegate to the U.S. Congress from the Dakota Territory, created the scrapbook from articles published in the Sioux City Register, the Dakotian, the Omaha Daily Nebraskian, the Congressional Globe and the Dakota Union.

Ledger, Dakota Territory, 1869-1872, Cuthbert DuCharme

A bound manuscript ledger reflecting the sales of goods, including alcohol, at a trading post maintained by Cuthbert DuCharme on the Missouri River near Fort Randall in Dakota Territory, or present-day Charles Mix County, South Dakota. The ledger contains daily entries between 1869 and 1872. Also contains a list of DuCharme’s property as of 1857.

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The Nancy Carlsen Research Papers show her passion for local history, maps, and the Missouri River. The collection is mostly about Clay County cemeteries and the Clay County sites on the National Register of Historic Places. It also includes material about Clay County Preservation Commission, Spirit Mound Trust, Spirit Mound Cemetery Restoration, and River Honoring.

Her papers contain many maps that Nancy created. Enjoy these portions of two of the Clay County SD maps. The first is a shaded relief map emphasizing the Missouri River Valley and the Vermillion River Valley. The second is a color topographic map highlighting Clay County cemeteries.

shaded relief map of Vermillion SD area

map of Vermillion SD showing cemeteries

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Upon starting my research, my knowledge of Wilber Stilwell was very base level; I knew that he was Chair of the Department of Art for over 30 years, I had heard that he had won a Medal of Honor, awarded by First Lady Johnson, for his dedication to art education, and there’s a student exhibition every year in his honor. As my research went on, and I got a greater sense of Wilber, I realized that there’s much more to the story than the headlines. Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten many of his efforts. The first of these I’d like to share is Wilber Stilwell as an inventor.

            From the beginning of the collection until the end, Wilber was overflowing with innovation. Scrawled in the margins of every page are notes that imagine the possibilities to surpass the limitations of our everyday lifestyle. He wasn’t alone, either; his wife, Gladys, had an innovative side as well, pioneering different gadgets to make life easier. She was particularly interested in fashion design and pursued a patent for a hem measuring tool. It’s obvious, and heartwarming, that the pair were inspired by one another, and supported each other’s creative endeavors. 

            During his time as a student at the Kansas City Art Institute, Wilber experimented with inventive techniques to inform his artwork – this includes trial and error with his Transfer Wax process, and the Blottergraph. The Blottergraph would later become a staple in many classrooms as an introduction to relief printing. Wilber even developed his own color wheel after much experimentation. 

            Gladys and Wilber becoming parents seemed to have spurred more inspiration for their inventions. They clearly had a passion for making art safe and accessible for children and young adults. Many of these techniques found their home in classrooms, especially after they were published in art process magazines. It was around this time that Wilber developed the idea of the “Safe-T-Scissors.” Wilber was in contact with attorneys and material companies throughout this time, to see if this was even possible. He created hundreds of sketches, and after much trial and error, was granted a patent for the invention. The safety scissors, something we’ve all probably used at some point or another, were a revolutionary possibility, and eventual reality. Below is the official patent found in Box 9, Folder 41.

            Behind the success of their inventions was a fair amount of failure and rejection. There is a significant amount of correspondence in which their lawyers told them their inventions were unpatentable, or that the idea didn’t hold enough merit for a company to invest money into. Throughout all of this, Wilber and Gladys persevered for their passions. 

            During a tumultuous economy, and a lack of state funding for education, Wilber and Gladys utilized accessible materials, like tin foil, basic crayons, freezer paper, even face powder, to help students make “fine art” without access to the prestigious materials usually utilized. In all of this lies a profound lesson: There can and often will be adversity and rejection in our lives, but it can lead to greater inspiration and success.

#ASummerOfStilwell

Here’s a link to the finding aid for the collection I’m researching.    https://archives.usd.edu/repositories/2/resources/99

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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. 

#ASummerOfStilwell

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

https://archives.usd.edu/repositories/2/resources/99

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The Archives and Special Collections received 31 boxes of rolled architectural drawings, floor plans, and blueprints of buildings in Vermillion SD and the University of South Dakota.

architectural drawing of building

We are in the process of flattening and inventorying this gift. Projects date from 1920s to 2000s. Some of the projects are the Clay County Courthouse, Vermillion public schools, DakotaDome, Chemistry Building fire repair, animal quarters, and many dorms. The brief inventory included with the gift also lists items that are not buildings, such as a plot plan/old map and campus development. I look forward to finding them.

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Her photograph collection “chronicles life in Veblen, South Dakota and includes photographs taken by Vivian Steen as well as others. ” They date from circa 1900 to 1930s.

The photographs range “from scenes of the downtown, scenes of store interiors, storekeepers, harvesters, ranch work, farm animals, road trips in both horse drawn vehicles and motor vehicles, the Missoula Stampede, a flood, the building of a dam, winter farm scenes, games with the Veblen Railmen (city baseball team), young men boarding the train in WWI uniforms, WWI tent camps, logging camps, river boat transporting an early gasoline car, and men at the University of Minnesota to intimate family photographs.”

The Vivian Lucille Steen Anderson photograph collection is in the Archives and Special Collections at the University of South Dakota.

Image from the collection and information from the finding aid.

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She was active and influential in politics and public education in the early 20th century at the local (Vermillion SD) level and the state level. She also wrote for a local newspaper, the Vermillion Plain Talk, and taught school.

1866 – birth.

Circa 1888 – graduation from USD and started teaching at Vermillion.

1901 – authored history section of Peterson’s Illustrated Historical Atlas of Clay County.

1911-1914 – Clay County superintendent of schools.

1924 – authored Makers of History; Today and Yesterday.

1926-1930 – Clay County auditor.

1930s– authored 3 stories in Legends of the Mighty Sioux.

1931 – authored Picture Studies: Complete.

1937 – death.

Her picture and obituary can be found at https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/15663153/florence-belle-conrow.

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“Since 1972, EROS has worked to map, monitor, and analyze land change across our nation and around the world” (EROS website). This USGS facility is located by Sioux Falls, SD, and is a treasure-trove of satellite images and aerial photographs.”

Documents and photographs concerning the early history of EROS and ERTS (Earth Resources Technology Satellite) can be found in the James G. Abourezk papers in the Archives and Special Collections.

Also, a couple of the archival collections have large aerial photographs that I believe came from EROS. I particularly like the 38” x 38” black and white photograph of the USD campus in 1999.

EROS website, https://www.usgs.gov/centers/eros/about (accessed 2/4/2022)

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Darrow, A. N., et al. Map of the Missouri River : from Its Mouth to Three Forks, Montana. Missouri River Commission, 1892-1895.

Archives and Special Collections doesn’t have all the maps in this set, but we do have the indexes and maps for South Dakota under call number 1472 M5 1895 U545. This map shows Vermillion, South Dakota and area after the flood of 1881 moved the Missouri River away from the town.

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