Archive for the ‘Richardson Collection’ Category

edwards-diary-001“As soon as we were across the [Missouri] river, we started up the river on our long westward journey. Late in the evening we camped at a farm house some six miles from Covington. The road we traveled is very smooth and level. The Missouri bottom here is some 18 or 15 miles wide and, for between one to three miles in width, is covered with a heavy growth of cottonwood timber. Back of Covington, for several miles, the country is not settled and cultivated as it should be, for, to all appearances, a more beautiful locality could not more easily be found. The soil is deep and rich and covered with an abundance of grass, with water and timber within convenient distance.”


edwards-diary-003This description of the Sioux City, Iowa area in 1865 is from the Edward Edwards’ journal. (I will use diary and journal interchangeably in this post.) Other towns mentioned in the next couple of pages of the diary are Decotah, Franklin, St. John, Ponka, St. James, and Niobrara. Some of these towns still exist and can be visited by driving west of Sioux City.



A portion of the Edward H. Edwards journal is in the Archives and Special Collections.


edwards-diary-002The diary’s writer Edward Edwards was from Sioux City, and he was 24 years old when he joined the Sawyers expedition as teamster. The expedition’s goal was to construct a wagon road from the Missouri River at Niobrara City, Nebraska to the gold mines of Virginia City, Montana (Drago and Mott).






edwards-diary-004.jpgThere are many different types of diaries. Some give an account of day-to-day life. Edward’s journal is not that type. It doesn’t have daily entries, and it doesn’t tell us much about constructing a road or what it was like living in a camp. It does contain detail descriptions of the land, plants, weather, and major events like meeting Natives or finding fossils. It reads like a travelogue.





When reading a diary for historical research, it is useful to ask yourself questions similar to the following:

What was the diary’s context?

What was the writer’s intent? Was it promotional? If so, what was the goal?

Was it written while the events were occurring or later?

Are there phrases borrowed from other contemporary literature? Clichés may indicate that the writer is repeating common knowledge rather than writing personal observation.


edwards-diary-005.jpgDrago and Mott tell us that Edwards wrote to his family during the same trip. I wonder how the observations in this journal compare with observations in those letters.


Some of the diaries from the Archives and Special Collections are on the Digital Library of South Dakota. Diaries by Austin Horace and an unnamed Civil War soldier are available there for viewing.




edwards-diary-007If you are looking for a fun volunteer activity, consider transcribing handwritten diaries for an archives. One of our diaries is in shorthand. If you know how to read shorthand, you could tell us what a young man in Sioux Falls in the 1870s-1800s was journaling.






Harry Sinclair Drago and Phyllis Mott. “The Edwards Letters and the Wagon Road to Virginia City.” In The Westerners, New York Posse Brand Book, Volume 9, Number 1, 1962.








Read Full Post »

Did you know there is an Oscar Howe designed mural in Vermillion, South Dakota?

See the web site for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Vermillion (and then the Church Life tab) or the Oscar Howe papers at the Archives and Special Collections for more information.

Read Full Post »

American mathematician Anna Johnson Pell Wheeler is best known for leading a successful career in mathematics in the early twentieth century, a time when few women worked in the field. She was the first woman to lecture before the American Mathematical Society, and she was influential in shaping the mathematics department at Bryn Mawr College. Her chief area of mathematical research was functional analysis (Hannon 2006).

Anna Johnson attended the University of South Dakota from 1899 to 1904. (Walz 2000), and obtained advance degrees from the University of Iowa in 1904, Radcliffe College in 1905, and the University of Chicago in 1909.

The Anna Johnson Pell Wheeler papers at the Archives and Special Collections consists mainly of family letters between Anna and her family, from 1898 to Anna’s appointment at Bryn Mawr in 1918.


Hannon, Jessica. “Anna Johnson Pell Wheeler: Background.” Science Reference Center Database, EBSCOhost http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=4&sid=3eeaf634-a369-475a-85cf-edf30cae1f59%40sessionmgr4008&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=22315949&db=sch (accessed 2/7/2018).

Walz, Shawna Darlene. “The University of South Dakota’s Own Anna Johnson: A Pioneer for Women in Mathematics.” Honors Thesis, University of South Dakota, 2000.


Read Full Post »

Mary Beaty Edelen served in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 1973 to 1980 and from 1983 to 1992, representing Clay and Union Counties and becoming the first woman legislator elected from her district. She was the president of the National Order of Women Legislators in 1986 and on the executive board of the Legislative Research Council from 1975-76 and 1979-80.


The Mary B. Edelen papers at the Archives and Special Collections are 2.5 linear feet and consist mainly of material related to her work in the South Dakota House of Representatives.


Herbert S. Schell. History of Clay County, South Dakota. Vermillion SD: Clay County Historical Society, 1976. Page 260.

South Dakota Legislature, Legislative Research Council, Historical Listings http://www.sdlegislature.gov/Legislators/Historical_Listing/default.aspx?Session=2018  (accessed Dec. 27, 2017).

South Dakota. Legislature, Legislative Research Council. Biographical directory of the South Dakota legislature, 1889-1989. Pierre, SD: The Council, 1989.










Read Full Post »

Archives and Special Collections recently received a 1938 report about the Standing Rock Reservation written by E.D. Mossman for a visiting congressional committee . Shown below is one of the pages from this report.


Read Full Post »

It’s always so nice to have classes visit the Archives!

Read Full Post »

The John Day collection on Arthur Amiotte (MS 046) is now open to researchers.

The majority of this collection was gathered by John Day before, during, and after the retrospective on Arthur Amiotte’s art in 2001. Also included are VHS recordings featuring Amiotte.

The 4.5 linear feet of material span the years 1962-2010, with the bulk of the material dated 1980-2003.

Contact the Archives and Special Collections for a copy of the guide to the collection.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: