History without Borders

23 July 2020

For the past fifty years, South Dakota History, the quarterly journal of the State Historical Society, has preserved and presented the stories of South Dakota’s people and places. Sometimes these stories reach far beyond the state’s borders, as Sallie Ketcham shows in the upcoming Summer issue with her article, “‘It was in Armenia that I learned fear’: Rose Wilder Lane and the Armenian Genocide.”

During and after World War I, the Ottoman Empire systematically deported and murdered Armenian Christians. In what is now recognized as the first modern genocide, the Ottoman Turks killed approximately 1.5 million Armenians and displaced millions of others from 1915 until the empire fell in 1923. Contemporary Americans received regular reports of the atrocities, among them accounts written by the now-famous South Dakota native, and launched one of the most massive aid efforts in United States history.

Rose Wilder Lane was born in De Smet to Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1886, grew up listening to her mother’s stories about Dakota Territory, and went on to play a vital role in the creation of the Little House books. In the early 1920s, she worked as a journalist covering the ongoing brutality in southeastern Europe and western Asia for the San Francisco Call and Post. Using Lane’s personal correspondence and newspaper articles, Ketcham traces her work and travels through the tumultuous region. The experience of documenting atrocities and witnessing mass starvation left Lane emotionally shaken and influenced her later life and career.

5002_cover.jpgThe other articles in the Summer issue reveal South Dakotans’ connections to the wider world as well. In “Fighting Bob’s Brother: William T. La Follette, Populism, and Agrarian Progressivism,” Jeff Wells focuses on the role South Dakota Populist William La Follette played in the rise of agrarian populism and the political stance of his younger brother, Progressive senator Robert M. La Follette of Wisconsin. In his article, “‘We consider ourselves human beings’: The Education of Clarence Three Stars,” Philip Burnham highlights the ways in which Three Stars used the eastern boarding school education that had been forced upon him to advocate for Lakotas in South Dakota.

To order the Summer issue, visit sdhspress.com/journal or call (605) 773-6009.

 

—Michael Burns

 

In the photo at top, Lane travels through part of the Ottoman Empire in a horse-drawn buggy. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum