Archive for the ‘South Dakota History’ Category

The national woman suffrage story ultimately became a success because of the success of suffragists at the state and local levels. Next year, as we celebrate a century since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, it is important to remember the significance of the state and local stories as well.

Simultaneously the most fun and most frustrating part of designing this display was choosing which items to include. The Jane Breeden, Mamie Pyle and Gladys Pyle papers contained a wealth of fascinating items. These collections worked well together to provide different perspectives of the suffrage movement. As a leading suffragist in South Dakota, Mamie Pyle’s papers provided an insight into the “business” end of the movement, while Jane Breeden’s papers gave a non-leadership perspective. Although active in the suffrage movement herself, Gladys Pyle’s papers were important to show that women were not just capable of using the vote, but they were more than capable of pursuing political office all the way to Washington D.C.

Organizing the display by theme seemed a much better way to put the items in conversation with one another. Highlighting the reoccuring elements of democracy, wartime, anti-suffragist and citizenship, it was clear that the history of the suffrage movement was not exclusively a women’s story. There were so many interesting and sometimes absurd pieces; I hope at the very least, those who are interested in the woman suffrage movement will take the time to visit the Archives and Special Collections at USD.

Although many of the items on display can be accessed through the Digital Library of South Dakota (DLSD), a trip to USD’s Archives and Special Collections is unparalleled. Sure, you can peruse these collections from the comfort of your own armchair, but the reading room has comfortable seating, a welcoming atmosphere and a superb staff waiting for you to bring in your research questions.

Interning at A&SC has been a rewarding experience. Honestly, it was a little like going on a treasure hunt, and every time I entered the stacks, I found something new. There were a few projects that I worked on through the semester, but the opportunity to put together a display on woman suffrage was by far my favorite.

My hope with this display is that it will encourage visitors to further explore these manuscript collections for the items that had to reluctantly be returned to the stacks and to contemplate how some of the issues presented in the display remain relevant today.

Information and items from:

Richardson Collection, Archives and Special Collections, the University of South Dakota

  • the Mamie Shields Pyle Papers
  • the Gladys Pyle Papers
  • the Jane Rooker Breeden papers

Chilson Collection, Archives and Special Collections, the University of South Dakota

  • Lahlum, Lori Ann and Molly P. Rozum. Equality at the Ballot Box: Votes for Women on the Northern Great Plains. Pierre, SD: South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2019.

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In recognition of Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday and her contributions to health, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. This post is a continuation of another post that focused on midwives.

Nurses have gone from being regarded as a menial profession to a respected field of study. The three books detailed in this post examine two extraordinary women who lead the shift and one extraordinary local nursing school that educated future nurses.

Reminiscences of America’s First Trained Nurse is an autobiography written by Linda Richards, known as “America’s First Trained Nurse”. The book discusses very briefly her childhood but goes on to discuss her education and, then, her career in nursing.  Richards is considered the first trained nurse as she was the first nurse to enter and graduate a newly organized nursing school. She described the instruction at the school as limited and that the nurses weren’t even allowed to know what medicines were being used, as they were numbered. There were no textbooks nor exams. After her education, she travelled around the Eastern hemisphere, where she spent of her career in England and Japan.

Richards spent time overseas in England, where she met Florence Nightingale and other programs spread across the country. In Japan, she managed a nursing training school for Japanese women. What started in a cramped building expanded to multiple, more spacious buildings. During her time in Japan, she noticed the women made good nurses due to their patience, charm, compliance, and ability to copy what they were taught. As time passed, they also defied cultural norms and took charge with male patients. After 5 years in Japan, she returned to the United States to work in different schools for 20 years, including multiple mental health and state hospitals.  The first trained American nurse devoted her life to making sure others received the training they needed.

Florence Nightingale, the inspiration behind next year’s theme, was not just the founder of modern nursing, but a social reformer and statistician. During her career, she rose to prominence for her management of medical care during the Crimean War, introduced higher standards of hygiene in medical care, workhouses, and homes, and helped establish the first secular school of nursing. The school, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, still stands today at the King’s College, London in England.

Notes on Nursing: What it Is and What it is Not was originally published in 1859, but this copy contains both the original work along with reflections of prominent nursing theorists nearly a century and a half later. Despite being sometimes regarded as a training manual for nurses, it was actually intended for those who were at-home nurses. It primarily covers advice for hospital environments/patient care. However, it focuses more on the practices than the patients themselves. Throughout the book Nightingale only refers to nurses by she/her or as women. In the margins, Nightingale has left short notes or annotations. Through this particular work and her work as a nurse, Nightingale will be known for bringing nursing into a modern age and bringing compassion into nursing.

In 1883, residents of Sioux Falls are determined to establish a hospital after tales of medical progress from the Chicago World’s Fair reached the city. It was in 1884 that they received their first patient—whose first choice had been the penitentiary, which was a safer option than a hospital at the time. Over the hospital’s history, the orthopedic department and children’s department rose in prominence due to patient care offered during the polio epidemic in the late 1940s. During the 50s, after a rise in demand for diploma education, the school re-established their three-year degree program. Today, the hospital exists as the Sanford USD Medical Center.

The Sioux Valley School of Nursing: 1898-1986 covers the entirety of the history of the Sioux Valley Hospital School of Nursing, from its inception in 1898 to its final graduating class. It is dedicated to Anna Haugan Berdahl, the first full-time, paid administrative staff member, and covers 7 distinct eras: “We Begin”, “Years of Change”, “Sioux Valley Hospital”, “New Horizons”, “The Three-Year Diploma”, “The Unsettled Years”, and “The Final Decade.” It contains many photos of students, uniforms, and buildings. Some chapter pages designating the covered era include excerpts from actual school and hospital rules or policies. The final pages have a timeline covering the span of the school’s existence. In total, the school graduated 2,120 nurses. As new doors opened for women in the job field, the doors to the Sioux Valley School of Nursing closed.

If you’d like to learn more about USD’s College of Nursing’s history, click here. For a list of recommended websites, visit USD’s Nursing Library Guide here


To find each work in our collection, click on the title in the following list of references:

Nightingale, F. (1992). Notes on nursing : What it is, and what it is not (First ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Richards, L., & Austin, A. (1949). Reminiscences of Linda Richards : America’s first trained nurse. Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Sioux Valley Hospital. School of Nursing. (1986). History of Sioux Valley Nursing School, 1896-1986. Sioux Falls, SD: Sioux Valley Hospital.

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Betty Turner Asher was the first woman president of any public higher education system in South Dakota. She served at USD from 1989-1996, resigning after seven years of service. At the time, her tenure was tied with two other presidents for the fourth longest term of any president at USD. Asher was previously the Vice President of Student Affairs for Arizona State University, and held three degrees: a bachelor’s in history, a master’s in counseling, and a doctorate in education.

Asher’s accomplishments while at USD are many, and some are listed here. Under President Asher:

-USD approved and began additions to the I.D. Weeks library

-Renovation was approved for the oldest building on campus, Old Main

-Construction was completed on the Health Sciences Center in Sioux Falls

-Funds were dedicated to expand the Lommen Health Sciences Library

-Enrollment hit a record high of 7,739 in 1989

-A record 1,118 degrees were conferred in May 1995

-USD Law rose to the top half of rankings in accredited institutions by the American Bar Association

-USD ranked in the top 5% of the nation’s colleges and universities, as reported by US News and World Report

-Psychology, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Administrative Studies, Counseling, Physician’s Assistant are just some of the programs that were added or experienced growth under her leadership

Asher was known to students and faculty for her open door policy, and made leaps and bounds in improving diversity at USD. In an interview with the South Dakotan in July 1996, she states: “But I am happy that our gay and lesbian students are comfortable enough to meet openly as a group…I have received all kinds of letters and notes from the Native American community. I have been deeply touched by their response.” Asher goes on to speak about how the students and faculty make USD a success, and that she appreciated the close relationships she had with USD and its faculty and students. She recalled students coming up to her home and inviting her to join them downtown, and said that USD is where she never woke up in the morning and did not want to go to work.

Asher is the first in a short list of female leadership at South Dakota public universities. Only seven women have served as university presidents in South Dakota since Asher’s term. They are:

Peggy Gordon-Miller, South Dakota State University, 1998-2006

Kay Schallenkamp, Black Hills State University, 2006-2015

Laurie S. Nichols (interim), Northern State University, 2008-2009

Heather Ann Wilson, South Dakota School of Mines, 2013-2017

Maria Ramos (interim), Dakota State University, 2014-2015

Jose-Marie Griffiths, Dakota State University, 2015-Present

Sheila K. Gestring, University of South Dakota, 2018-Present

Betty Turner Asher’s papers are held at the Archives and Special Collections at USD.


Betty Turner Asher, from USD’s Past President’s website, sourced below


South Dakotan, July 1996 Issue

Karl Mundt Library, Dakota State University






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The Chilson Collection of Western Americana has many Dakota Territory and South Dakota books and journals and a few surprises. I found this early South Dakota chronology in The Monthly South Dakotan, March 1899, vol. 1 no. 11, pages 191-193.

May contain offensive language.




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GLO -1-crop-rotate

The Archives and Special Collections has a small collection of General Land Office maps. The Black Hills maps are supplemental plats, extension surveys, and dependent resurveys with dates between 1927 and 1932. They show mineral surveys, mine names, homestead entry surveys, homesteader names, forest reserves, sections with subdivisions, surveyor names and sometimes relief. The Cheyenne River Reservation maps are dependent resurveys with dates between 1929 and 1931. They show allotments with serial numbers, and sections with subdivisions.


Does anyone know the location of the surveyors’ notes connected with the resurveys? Does anyone know the meaning of the serial numbers on the allotments?

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USMC Lapel Pins

USMC Lapel Pins

The Archives and Special Collections invites you to view our display featuring military-related pieces from the William J. Janklow Papers. Items now on display include:

•       Marine Corps Jacket, two USMC lapel pins,

and business cards from Governor and Congress

•       Longlive Friendship Plaque, gifted to Janklow by the Republic of China

•       Corning/Foss Award Plaque

•       Photograph of South Dakota Air National Guard A7Ds over Mount Rushmore

•       South Dakota World War II Memorial

(Framed Color Picture, Framed Belt Buckles, and Engraved Stone)

•       Fallen Sons and Daughters of South Dakota in WWII books

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I recently attended the South Dakota State Historical Society 2013 History Conference. There were many great papers, but the one that stands out in my mind used maps plus a diary as primary resources. Graham Callaway talked about G.K. Warren’s 1856 maps of the Missouri River. These maps were only available at the National Archives, but are now published in the book by W. Raymond Wood and Graham Callaway from the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Hutton, a member of the expedition, also kept a journal of the expedition to map the river. Information from the diary helped the authors to interpret some of the symbols on the maps. There are 39 maps depicting the Missour River from what is now the Kansas-Nebraska border to the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Of special interest to me was the map showing the Vermillion area.

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