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South Dakota History features fur trade dogs, Beadle County schools, Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Kevin Larsen — published 2023/04/11 14:21:00 GMT-5
South Dakota History features fur trade dogs, Beadle County schools, Laura Ingalls Wilder
In this depiction of the Comanches breaking camp, artist George Catlin captured the pandemonium that often resulted from using dogs as beasts of burden.

PIERRE, S.D.— The spring 2023 issue of “South Dakota History,” the quarterly journal of the South Dakota State Historical Society, features articles on fur trade dogs, schools in Beadle County, and selected blogs from the historical society’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Pioneer Girl Project website.


David C. Beyreis offers an examination of the Northern Great Plains’ oldest domesticated animal, the dog. Although the introduction of the horse precipitated momentous changes for Plains peoples, dogs continued to occupy important roles in daily life. “People worked with dogs, ate dogs, and discussed the benefits and annoyances of the creatures,” explains Beyreis. “Indeed, dogs provide a useful window through which to view how diverse groups on the Great Plains constructed concepts about each other’s character and culture.”


In “Unprecedented yet Unheralded: Beadle County Schools during the Great Dakota Boom,” author Connie Goddard employs school data to analyze the quick population growth along the James River valley in the 1880s. The railroad facilitated the surge of newcomers, bringing nearly 10,000 non-native emigrants and immigrants to Beadle County. These pioneers valued education and ensured that school systems developed quickly and broadly in their newly built towns. Extant documents reveal the pride and devotion with which James River valley residents regarded their schools.


Finally, the journal’s Historical Musings section reprints blogs inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Pioneer Girl.” Edited by the historical society’s Pioneer Girl Project director Nancy Tystad Koupal, these reprinted blogs from the Pioneer Girl Project website explore various research questions around Wilder’s writings. Topics include gophers, beads, locusts, the “big woods” of Wisconsin, the Peshtigo, WI fire, research materials at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Archives, and Wilder’s 150th birthday. Much of the research behind the blogs had its origins in the annotations and introductions to SDHS Press’s three Pioneer Girl Project books: “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” (2014), “Pioneer Girl: The Revised Texts” (2021), and “Pioneer Girl: The Path into Fiction” (forthcoming May 2023).


Members of the South Dakota State Historical Society will receive their copy of the issue in the next few weeks. “South Dakota History” is a benefit of membership in the South Dakota State Historical Society. For information on membership, call 605-773-6000. To purchase individual issues, call 605-773-6009 or visit sdhspress.com.

About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call 605-773-3458 or visit www.history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.