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SDHC Reflects on Anniversary Celebration

February 18, 2023

With the South Dakota Humanities Council’s 51st birthday on February 16, our Golden Anniversary year has come to a close! As we move into our sixth decade, we’re taking a moment to look back at the activities and events that marked this anniversary.  

“The 50th anniversary of SDHC’s founding provided a perfect opportunity to reflect on our growth and accomplishments, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” said SDHC Executive Director Ann Volin. “Instead, we’re inspired to continue and enhance the work we do across the state for the next 50 years. Forward!” 

The official anniversary party was a double celebration, taking place at the 20th annual South Dakota Festival of Books in September in Brookings. It provided an occasion for sharing humanities memories and recognizing loyal supporters, but it was only one of many commemorative activities.

Throughout the year, SDHC marked the anniversary with special social media posts, including a weekly “50 Books for 50 Years” post highlighting the bestselling books and #1 songs from each year, and a monthly Spotlight post featuring some of SDHC’s most meaningful programs. SDHC also hosted special guests on several virtual Brainstorming: The Human Connection sessions to discuss the impact of the humanities across the state; among them were past board members, long-time scholars, and frequent Festival of Books presenters.

Here are just a few other highlights of SDHC’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

  • Wagon Master: Hansen’s Hand-Crafted History – An SDHC grant helped fund this documentary, aired on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, about Mitchell resident Doug Hansen’s four decades of custom building and restoring ox, mule, and horse-drawn vehicles from the 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Innoskate Festival – SDHC supported Levitt at the Falls in bringing this weekend of concerts, skateboarding demonstrations and classes, and panels discussing the innovation, cultural connectivity, and creative expression of skateboarding to Pine Ridge and Sioux Falls.
  • Museum on Main Street, “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” – SDHC partnered with the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum to bring this Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit to four communities: Brookings, Yankton, Sturgis, and Fort Sisseton.
  • Speaking of Health – An SDHC grant supported the University of South Dakota Wegner Health Sciences Library and Sanford School of Medicine in exploring connections between health care and the humanities through books and appearances by Mara Buchbinder and Sam Kean.
  • Americana with Raffi – In cooperation with Humanities North Dakota, SDHC offered two multi-week virtual classes led by author and historian Raffi Andonian: “Conflicts in History and Memory of Americana” took place last fall, and “Contested Histories in Remembering Americana” is happening now through the end of April.
  • “We the People” Columns by David Adler – As part of its mission to encourage civil conversation, SDHC provided funding to make educational, non-partisan columns by Constitutional scholar and journalist David Adler available weekly throughout the state via the South Dakota Newspaper Association.
  • “Forming a More Perfect Union: A Conversation with Anand Giridharadas” – SDHC closed a year’s worth of programming related to the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “A More Perfect Union” initiative with a conversation about bridging our nation’s divisions; Jon Hunter, publisher emeritus of the Madison Daily Leader, led the discussion with international journalist and author Anand Giridharadas.

Please enjoy our video reflecting on 50 years of humanities programs in South Dakota.

Learn more about humanities programming in South Dakota by signing up for SDHC e-Updates!