Archive for the ‘Volante’ Category

The Forgotten Pool

Few people remember a pool in the 1929 newly constructed two-story armory and gymnasium building at the University of South Dakota (USD). The New Armory, as the building was called, was designed by renowned Sioux Falls architects Hugill and Blatherwick to serve two purposes: as a military armory and a replacement for the Old Armory (now Belbas Larson Center) women’s gymnasium.  Besides serving as a venue for indoor athletics, the New Armory also housed military equipment and uniforms, classrooms and offices, and the basement contained a shooting range.

              According to his papers, President Slagle was intimately involved in the construction of the building which started construction in 1928. A letter from the architects to President Slagle noted specifics about the swimming pool located on the southeast portion of first floor. A February 5, 1929, Volante article describes the building as 100 by 200 feet. It was large enough to accommodate three basketball courts. The tiled swimming pool was 25 by 75 feet with room on one side for spectator bleachers. Not only did the pool serve USD students and faculty, but Vermillion citizens were also welcome. Pictures of the Dolphins, a women’s swimming group can be found in several Coyote yearbooks from the 1950’s.

Plans of the New Armory 1st floor. (Archives and Special Collections)               


Picture of Dolphins in the swimming pool. Note the tiling. (Coyote Yearbook, 1955)

In 1929 an outdoor pool was constructed in Prentis Park, but it was only operational in the summer, making the New Armory pool available for swimming all year round. Over the years with the increase in student enrollment and growth of athletics, a new structure to house athletics was built called the DakotaDome that opened in 1980. The function of the New Armory also changed as it became home to South Dakota Broadcasting (E. O. Lawrence Telecommunications Center) and USD Military Science Department. In 2003 the building was again renovated and became the Al Neuharth Media Center which is home to the Department of Media and Journalism, the Volante, Freedom Forum, KYOT TV and KAOR radio stations, and South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The pool is still there covered in sand, but not forgotten.

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Volume 21 of the Volante, which covers October 1, 1907 through June 12, 1908, has been added to the Digital Library of South Dakota.

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The Volante, the student newspaper at the University of South Dakota, was started in November of 1887 and continues to this day.  USD historian Cedric Cummins wrote that “The strange title had been derived from a French word signifying ‘flying’. ” (The University of South Dakota, 1862-1966, p.36)

The Archives and Special Collections has the Volantes in paper, but we seem to be missing the entire 1988-1989 school year. Please contact us if you have Volantes from that year that you would like to donate.

The first fourteen years of the Volante can be seen online on the South Dakota Digital Library. The main collection of the library has most (if not all) of the Volantes on microfilm.

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Freshmen Initiation

Friday, September 19, 1913, otherwise known as Black Friday, the newly acquired graduating class of 1917, gathered outside of Main Hall (today one could assume they meant Old Main) promptly at 7:30 pm to begin their journey through the time honored tradition of hazing the incoming freshmen. Though this practice has gone by the way side in recent decades, the memory of the events live on in the stories that remain and a poster found while cleaning in the Archives.

The poster details the rules of decorum which the freshmen class were required to follow. As well as a large paragraph of colorful descriptions (for the time period, mind you) the upper classmen threw at the freshmen. As the poster states, any rumors that certain freshmen were exempt from the activities of freshmen initiation were utter lies and all freshmen were required to participate in any events demanded by the upper classes. In accordance with the poster laying out the rules of the initiation, the Volante followed up with tales of the event in the first issue of the Volante published that school year.  In an article titled “Initiation—Black Friday” the article’s author briefly lays out what went down and encourages the freshmen to pick up their caps at the end of the article.

The jocularity of the event didn’t last long, as two weeks later another article was published in the Volante that described a certain student who was blatantly ignoring the rules. The student body called for the punishment of the student, which led to an article that detailed the suspension of five students who brutishly and publicly tried to bring the student to heel in accordance with the rules set up for the freshmen class. A week after the first article detailing the suspensions was released, a follow up of the proceedings were published and detailed further what had caused the suspensions. As well as they would enforce the student’s suspensions until January 6, 1914, when they would be able to return to classes at the university.

The poster and volante are now on display in the archives for a limited time so stop in and read about the events that freshmen today no longer have to fear.


Black Friday Poster. USD Archive Oversize Material: Photographs—USD Panoramas.

The Volante. Vol. 27-30. May 1913 – July 1916.

1915 Coyote. Pg. 229

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The Volante volumes one through fourteen, from November 1887 through June 1901, have been digitized and placed online. All volumes are full text searchable and can be browsed as well through the Digital Library of South Dakota.



Share what you discover with hashtag #volantehistory.

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Photographs from the recently donated Carl Bernard Gilbertson Collection feature images from Law Sneak Day 1914 and descriptions from the May 12, 1914 Volante tell their story.


Law Sneak Day parade

Law Sneak Day parade

"The piece de resistance of the whole "shooterbang," however, was Dean "Mac's" Jersey cow, decked in gorgeous ribbons, led by "Honest Abe" Seeley. Directly behind, McCay, clad in Miss Findall's kimono, dragged Marshall Davis' little hand cart, loaded with B. S."

“The piece de resistance of the whole “shooterbang,” however, was Dean “Mac’s” Jersey cow, decked in gorgeous ribbons, led by “Honest Abe” Seeley. Directly behind, McCay, clad in Miss Findall’s kimono, dragged Marshall Davis’ little hand cart, loaded with B. S.”






"The feed prepared by "Big" and "Doc" had any previous occasion skinned a mile. Half a hog was needed to feed the multitude, Grigsby divided it with the carving knife. "Doc" Cooley, sporting a "weenie" behind his ear, buttered the buns, while the immortal "Puggs," placing the grains in a cast off sock, made coffee superior to the ambrosia of Mt. Olympus. All ate to "sufficiency."

“The feed prepared by “Big” and “Doc” had any previous occasion skinned a mile. Half a hog was needed to feed the multitude, Grigsby divided it with the carving knife. “Doc” Cooley, sporting a “weenie” behind his ear, buttered the buns, while the immortal “Puggs,” placing the grains in a cast off sock, made coffee superior to the ambrosia of Mt. Olympus. All ate to “sufficiency.”


Volante 110 Volante 211

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From the Volante, Vol. XIV, March 25, 1901:

Although not usually productive of valuable artistic results, as a means of wasting time and money, amateur photography is a great success. It is, however, a dangerous pastime and should not be lightly indulged in, for once formed the habit of picture taking is well nigh unconquerable.

The beginning may seem quite harmless. Since the victim desires merely to produce a few souvenirs of interesting scenes and events, and not to attain artistic results, he thinks that a very small camera and a limited outfit are all he desires, and with this idea in mind he sends to different camera companies for prices and descriptive circulars.

The arrival of the catalogues causes a complete change of mind in regard to the kind of outfit required. The glowing description of the higher priced camera, of ingenious contrivances for making the work easier, and the beautiful photograph sent as “average samples of amateur work,” so fire his imagination that he sends an order at least three times as large as he had at first intended.

The first evening after the arrival of the precious box is spent in a careful study of the instruction book which accompanies each instrument. The next morning at precisely ten o’clock – the earliest hour advised in the directions – the proud owner of the new camera takes his first picture. All the remainder of that day and the next he spends in patiently developing, washing, printing and toning, before he finally displays the finished photograph. It is faint, blurred, stained and hardly recognizable; the victim’s back aches from the torture of the dark closet, his fingers are sore from the action of acids and his clothes are covered with bright yellow spots, but the thought that he has made a picture fascinates him and he immediately tries another.

By slow degrees he recognizes and remedies his mistakes and, as his pictures improve, proudly begins to show them to his friends. In this lies his greatest danger. His friends, with a mistaken idea of kindness, lavish praises up on him, and he, delighted by their compliments, insists on photographing them all.

He takes them singly and in groups, in every conceivable combination and position, and presents each of them with a dozen photographs for every word of praise regardless of the time and expense required, an amount which would have horrified him six months before.

If nothing occurs to prevent frequent indulgence in the fascinating amusement, he soon develops into a “camera fiend.” The whole world seems to him to revolve itself into a series of objects to be photographed, and nothing, from a farmer’s wife feeding her chickens to a kitten asleep under a tree, from a bride and groom on their wedding tour to a log by the roadside, escapes him. When he has reached this stage there is no hope for reformation. He must be classed with drunkards, gamblers and opium inebriate, and left to his fate.

–Written by W. D. Shouse or Marie Bryant

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Once again, Dakota Days has come. Though the festivities have begun early in the week, the parade is still an exciting highlight of Game Day. A screaming sea of red and white converges upon the Dome to cheer the Coyotes to victory. One lucky girl is crowned Miss Dakota. In the evening, merry USD students fill the streets as they wander from gathering to gathering. Here are some exciting moments in D-Day history, taken from the Volante:

On “Black Friday,” freshmen, all in their pajamas, would gather and perform an initiation ceremony involving barrel staves. D-Days was started in 1914 to stop the hazing that occurred on Black Friday. The theme for the first parade was “Frontier Life” and the floats were drawn by horses.

In the 1930’s, Sherri Cash writes in one Volante, “traditions such as the annual hockey game between university and alumnae women, the flag raising ceremony, [and] the greased pig contest between halves” were started. Sadly, these traditions have not continued into the present.

Because of the war, in 1943, there was no football game for Dakota Day and in 1944, the homecoming game was the Vermillion Tanagers versus Yankton High School.

Though it might not be that important or impressive, it is interesting to note that in 1962, students got a recess the Friday before Dakota Day.

In 1976, students got to watch “The Golden Knights” skydive before the homecoming game.

In 1984, there was an ice cream eating contest, which is my favorite past D-Days activity.

Old Main was rededicated in 1997 to kick off Dakota Days, along with President Jim Abbott’s inauguration.

There were fireworks at D-Days in 1998, along with jell-o wrestling.

Works Cited:

Volante [Vermillion] 1914-1998, n. pag. Print.

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The President’s House of the University of South Dakota from the Volante as it appeared in 1891. The house can be viewed at 222 North Yale Street and is currently a private residence.

Volante, Volume 5, no. 1

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Source: Volante, Volume 1, No. 4, February 1888

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