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State Historical Society Director Vogt announces retirement

Jay D. Vogt of Pierre has announced his retirement as director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, effective Dec. 8. 

Vogt, who has been director of the society, headquartered at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, since 2003, will also be retiring as state historic preservation officer. 

“After 42 years working in state government, it is time for me to retire,” said Vogt, 64. “My 33 years with the State Historical Society have been immensely rewarding, and I am looking forward to a new person leading the organization.” 

Vogt’s tenure as a state employee began with working for the late Alice Kundert, first in the State Auditor’s Office and then as her deputy in the Secretary of State’s Office. He began his career with the State Historical Society in 1987, initially serving as executive assistant to director J. R. Fishburne. Along the way he served 15 years as executive director of the South Dakota Heritage Fund (now South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the society’s nonprofit fundraising partner), 24 years as state historic preservation officer, four years as deputy director of the society and the last 17 years as director. 

“I am proud to be a South Dakotan, and the society’s work to collect, preserve, interpret, and promote the history of the state of South Dakota and her people is tremendously gratifying,” Vogt said. “The society’s success can best be measured by the incredible people with whom I worked. The board of trustees, the office administrators, and the staff accomplish so much on behalf of South Dakota history.” 

Among Vogt’s highlights while being with the State Historical Society for the past 33 years are moving into the Cultural Heritage Center in 1989 and the phenomenal success of the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Pioneer Girl” book project. As state historic preservation officer, saving the Meridian Bridge at Yankton ranks high for Vogt, as well as implementing the Deadwood Fund matching grant program. As society director, developing the annual Holiday Open House and Legislative Reception into popular events are among Vogt’s accomplishments, as well as finishing “The South Dakota Experience” exhibition in the museum and expanding public programming and social media outreach. 

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump appointed Vogt as an expert member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Vogt, who is only the eighth director of the State Historical Society in its 119-year history, will continue that appointment, but he is looking forward to the next part of his life. 

“In the short term, I am going to help my wife, Elizabeth, an English teacher at Riggs High School in Pierre, get through the school year. The pandemic has truly made teaching immensely challenging,” Vogt said. “Elizabeth plans to join me in retirement at the end of this school year. Our long-term goals are to pester our three sons, Gabriel, Joshua, and Zachary, and we anticipate seeing them more. We want to visit presidential sites, attend adult-education classes, watch movies, read more and do volunteer work. I plan to spend extra time in my garden.” 

Vogt will be exchanging planting the seeds of history for planting flower seeds, and he will be missed by all those in the historical field. 

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 since 2013, 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 for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information. 

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