SDHC Wins Award to Celebrate Pulitzer Prize Centennial

BROOKINGS, SD – South Dakota will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize awards in 2016 thanks to the work of the South Dakota Humanities Council.

In late October, the Pulitzer Prize board announced the award of $45,456 to the SDHC for the centennial commemoration through Pulitzer’s Campfires Initiative.  The SDHC is planning a year-long celebration of the best in literature, drama, history, music, and journalism for communities around the state.


“(The award) is a recognition of deep, important thinking on the part of the humanities council,” Randell Beck said. Beck, retired publisher of the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, serves on the Pulitzer Prize board, which selected the Campfire Initiative awards.

The initiative awarded more than $1.5 million to 46 state humanities councils to feature Pulitzer Prize-winning works in the humanities during the 2016 centennial.

“It is an opportunity on so many levels for South Dakota to experience the Prizes and what they represent,” Beck said. “It made me very proud as a South Dakotan and a member of the board … to see us play a role in the centennial.”

Events planned provide opportunities for the state’s large, diverse community to converse about the Pulitzer Prize and the importance of high caliber writing, civil conversation and literary engagement. Conversations will highlight the connections between the Pulitzer Prize winners and topics that impact life in South Dakota, such as diversity, technology, science, the arts, history and media.

The initiative launches in March with events in Vermillion, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Rapid City where people can engage in topical and relevant conversations featuring the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning authors. The council aims to host Pulitzer events on each university campus in the state, utilizing long-standing partnerships with higher education.

The centennial also influences the council’s on-going community programs – One Book South Dakota, the Speakers Bureau and Book Club to Go – by recognizing Pulitzer Prize-winning works and their authors in book talks and on the council’s website and social media.

smiley_hs.jpgAs announced at the 2015 Festival of Books, Jane Smiley, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992, and her book Some Luck were selected for the 2016 One Book South Dakota. Smiley and other Pulitzer Prize-winning authors will be featured at the S.D. Festival of Books in Brookings, Sept. 22-25.

Scholars interested in presenting on authors and topics with the Pulitzer Prize centennial can now apply through the Speakers Bureau section on the SDHC website – – or call (605) 688-6113 with questions. A schedule of centennial events in South Dakota will be released in January.