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State Historical Society to Host Smithsonian Sunday Program on Oct. 12

The Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society will host a special webcast from the National Museum of American History (NMAH) entitled, “Lincoln, the Smithsonian, and Science” at 2 p.m. CDT on Sunday, Oct. 12, at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

The program, in the center’s education room, is from the April 23, 2009, Lincoln Lecture Series at NMAH. It features a discussion of Abraham Lincoln's philosophy on government-supported scientific study, his relationship with Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry and the role of presidential science advisors to this day.

Featured speakers include: Marc Rothenberg, editor of The Joseph Henry Papers Project at the Smithsonian Archives; and Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen, authors of "Mr. Lincoln's High Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Iron-Clads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War." President Obama’s science advisor John P. Holdren, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, also offers thoughts on the challenge of presidential science advising today. The discussion is moderated by Smithsonian Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture Richard Kurin.

“This is a fascinating program,” said Jay Smith, director of the Museum of the State Historical Society. “We forget how the mission of the Smithsonian has evolved over time, and this discussion brings to light a period of American history that enjoys certain similarities to the present day. It also clearly demonstrates how relationships to technology and presidential science advisors have changed.”

There is no fee to view the program, but standard admission fees apply for visitors wanting to go into the museum galleries.

The South Dakota State Historical Society became a Smithsonian Affiliate in January 2013, and it is the only affiliate in the state of South Dakota. Since 2013, the museum has hosted a “Smithsonian Sunday” program on the second Sunday of each month.