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South Dakota History

South Dakota History, volume 53 number 2

Price: $10.00

South Dakota History, volume 53 number 2


The summer 2023 issue of South Dakota History, the quarterly journal of the South Dakota Historical Society, features articles on the persecution of German Americans during World War One; the LDS church in South Dakota; the evolution of the favorite folk song "Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim"; and Joseph Bottum's speech at the South Dakota Governor's Award Luncheon.

Istvan Gombocz details the suppression of the German language in South Dakota during World War One, a government policy which negatively impacted the state's German American residents. Correcting a gap in previous literature, Gombocz elucidates how owners and editors of German language newspapers in South Dakota lent their pages to criticism of these policies, while at the same time forced to espouse their unwavering loyalty to the United States.

In "A Seed and a Swede: The Ivar Sandberg Story," Fred Woods works from rich primary sources and recounts the remarkable story of Ivar Sandberg, a Swedish immigrant to South Dakota who settled near the town of Gettysburg. After converting to the LDS faith, Sandberg tirelessly preached the Mormon religion and won numerous converts in Gettysburg, a town with no prior LDS presence, until his untimely death: "this remarkable Swede left his small part of the world a better place indeed."

In the journal's Historical Musings section, Tom Isern analyzes the evolution of "Little Old Sod Shanty on the Claim," a folk ballad "known in the settler society throughout the Great Plains." With the benefit of digitalized newspaper sources, Isern traces how the song was first written by a Kansas typesetter, rapidly spread throughout the Plains, and evolved to have universal appeal. Transcripts of the various versions of the lyrics permit readers to see for themselves how the song changed over time.

Finally, the journal reprints the text of Joseph Bottum's speech at the annual Governor's Award Luncheon of the South Dakota Historical Society in Pierre, South Dakota, on 22 April 2023. Sprinkled with literary references and dripping with wisdom, Bottum addresses place and community in history—and the crisis of a modern society increasingly missing them.