Skip to main content


Founded in 1972 by the hard work of fellow South Dakotans responding to an act of Congress, the South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is the only cultural organization in the state whose sole mission is to deliver humanities programming to the people of South Dakota.

We support and promote public programming in the humanities, provide grant funding for community programs and research and discussion projects, and carry out the mission of the South Dakota Center for the Book (established by the Library of Congress in 2002) through reading and literacy programs and the annual Festival of Books.

Our vision is to lead statewide advocacy for the humanities, working with other partners to foster literary and civic engagement.

Our core mission is to celebrate literature, promote civil conversation, and tell the stories that define our state.

The seed-in-its-shell emblem is the creation of industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, who undertook on his own to provide the National Endowment for the Humanities with a symbol of its work. Dreyfuss, recipient of a small endowment planning grant for a dictionary of symbols, finds that languages created with symbols are proliferating and are an important part of the contemporary world.

In explanation of his design for the humanities, he wrote, “The thing that kept coming back to mind was the fact that you are an organization that plants a seed – which grows and grows and grows.”

What Are The Humanities?
The humanities mean different things to different people. But we are fond of the completeness of this definition from the National Endowment on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965:

“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

We also think this video from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is very helpful when it comes to understanding the humanities:

SDHC receives funding from donations, as well the National Endowment for the Humanities, which provides annual assistance for 56 states and territories to help support some 56,000 lectures, discussions, exhibitions, and other programs each year for various organizations and state councils.

SDHC 50th Anniversary