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2022 South Dakota History Conference & Governors Awards for History

Mark your calendars for April 22 and 23, 2022, and join us at the Pierre Ramkota for the annual South Dakota State Historical Society History Conference & Governor's Awards for History

Click here to register.

Click here for complete schedule.




Friday, April 22                   Ramkota Hotel, Pierre

1:00 pm - 1:30 pm            Welcome: Ben Jones

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm            Session 1: Donovin Sprague, “Marcella LeBeau”

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm           Vendor and Snack Break

3:00 pm - 3:50 pm           Session 2: Lauren Harris,

                                          “The Story of Kenny Higashi, Nisei Son of South Dakota, and the 100th/44nd Regimental Combat Team”

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm           Session 3: World War Two at the State Historical Society

5:30 pm-  7:30 pm           Location: Missouri Avenue Event Center, Pierre

                                          Conference Reception: Kurt Hackemer, “Cartoon Propaganda and American  Perceptions of World War Two”                                  

Saturday, April 23            Ramkota Hotel, Pierre

8:15 am - 8:30 am           Welcome: Ben Jones

8:30 am - 9:20 am          Session Four: Hector Curriel, “Joe Foss: From Farm Boy to American Hero”

9:30 am - 10:20 am         Session Five: Collecting World War Two Artifacts and Ephemera

10:30 am - 11:00 am        Vendor and Snack Break

11:00 am - 11:50 am         Session Six: Sean Flynn, “Call-Sign ‘Chief’: A Lakota Sioux Aviator at War in the Pacific”

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm          Awards Lunch and Keynote by John Little

1:45 pm - 2:30 pm            Session Seven: Paul Higbee, “Don Smith: Doolittle Raider”

2:30 pm - 3:00 pm           Vendor and Snack Break

3:00 pm - 3:50 pm           Session Eight: Kelly Kirk, Blacks Hills Veterans Oral History Project

4:00 pm - 4:45 pm           Session Nine: History 605 Live with Ben Jones and Francis Whitebird

A stellar line-up of speakers will enlighten us on the topic, “Fighting the Good War: South Dakotans in World War Two.” An additional conference theme focuses on veterans’ oral histories. These sessions are particularly oriented toward local history societies, which will also have an opportunity to mingle at the Friday night reception and following the final Saturday session. The entire conference will be hybrid: available for in person attendance as well as livestreamed for those who cannot attend in person.

The conference opens on Friday, April 22, at 1 pm with a welcome from State Historian Dr. Ben Jones and a session on World War Two at the State Historical Society. The first session features historian Donovin Sprague with a presentation on Marcella LeBeau, the Lakota World War Two combat nurse who recently died at the age of 102. LeBeau served in Belgium, England, and France, including a stint at the Battle of the Bulge.

The second session features one of two new books from SDHS Press that will be released at the conference. Author Lauren Harris will discuss “The Story of Kenny Higashi, Nisei Son of South Dakota, and the 100th/44nd Regimental Combat Team.” Her children’s book, A Place for Harvest, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino, tells the story of Kenny Higashi and the Spearfish community who rallied around the Higashi family. For the third session of the conference, staff will highlight World War Two materials available in the Historical Society’s archival and museum collections; publications on World War Two topics; and the architecture of World War Two. An evening reception at the Missouri Avenue Event Center offers conference attendees an opportunity to network and to listen to a presentation from historian Dr. Kurt Hackemer on cartoon propaganda and American perceptions of World War Two.

Saturday’s line-up includes Sioux Falls author and artist Hector Curriel speaking about Joe Foss, the subject of his graphic biography, the second book to be released by SDHS Press at the conference.  Lakota aviators are the subject of Dr. Sean Flynn’s presentation, “Call-Sign ‘Chief’: A Lakota Sioux Aviator at War in the Pacific.” The morning closes with a panel of three South Dakota archivists speaking about the World War Two collections at their respective institutions. The Awards luncheon will feature speaker Dr. John Little, with a presentation on the Lakota Veterans Oral History project at the University of South Dakota. The afternoon includes Paul Higbee’s talk on Doolittle Raider Don Smith and Kelly Kirk will speak about the Black Hills Veterans Legacy Project. For the final session of the conference, State Historian Dr. Ben Jones’ History 605 podcast will go live, as he interviews Francis Whitebird about Lakota Code Talkers in front of our audience.

The History and Heritage Book Club’s March and April presentations will serve as a hybrid pre-conference events, featuring Katherine Sharp Landdeck, author of The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Air Force Pilots of World War Two on March 3 at 7 pm central. Lauren Harris will discuss Nisei soldiers and the 101st/442nd Regimental Combat Team on April 7 at 7 pm. In May, Dr. Virginia Wright-Peterson will talk about her book, A Woman’s War, Too: Women at Work During World War Two.

Registration for the conference is now available online.  Click here to register

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