Archive for January, 2010

Dear online wanderers,

Today, I bring you the second installment of “The Divided States,” my small effort to uncover the digital archives of each and every American state, from sea to shining sea. (Read  “Pennsylvania Mania” if you missed it). This time, we head northwest to South Dakota.

South Dakota’s been on my mind the last few weeks as I started re-watching HBO’s exquisite but, alas, ended drama Deadwood, set in the historic Black Hills gold mining camp. The original settlers broke with an 1868 treaty that promised the land to the Lakota Sioux. For one interesting take on Lakota tribe, check out the Smithsonian exhibit on Alice Flecther. A single woman with little formal training, Fletcher did anthropological fieldwork in the Great Sioux Reservation in the fall of 1881, just two years before the reservation was officially “opened” to ambitious settlers. To the right is a photograph of her guide Wajapa.

You’ll find many more photographs at the Digital Library of South Dakota, with collections from many of the state’s universities. The photo archives of USD are especially evocative. Check out the  portfolio from a 1999 exhibition, including the image to the left, from a 1954 performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

For yet more photographs, also check out the archive’s of the state’s historical society, at Heritage West.

And be sure to head over to the again bounteous Internet Archive to watch a 1940 film about gold mining, part I and part II. Or take a peek at the original WPA Guide to South Dakota, with wonderful illustrations like this grim drawing of “Hangman’s Hill”—just to prove Deadwood‘s portrait of swearing, murderous settlers isn’t entirely off the mark.

That’s all for this week, dear readers.

Yours in infamy,


Read Full Post »

Dear dawdlers,

Forgive this lazy scholar, returning after a prolonged sabbatical. Not that I have not been working, researching, and blogging, too—albeit on another site. (You can read some of those less lazy dispatches on Post-Post-Jew). I even watched the entire first season of Heroes. So you can tell, I have been productive. But I’m happier still to return to these pages and to you dear readers, for another semester of academic detective work, uncovering even more ways to get work done without leaving home.

Bringing education and entertainment to audiences where they lived was also a chief goal of the Circuit Chautauqua, the subject of today’s post. The University of Iowa library hosts Traveling Culture, an incredible collection of brochures and recordings from a local outpost of the Circuit Chautauqua, which brought performances and lectures to small towns around the country from 1904 to 1932. (Read a great introduction here). The digital collection is a remarkable window into American popular culture at the start of the twentieth century before movies and radio took off, ranging from a production of Les Miserables (decades before the musical) to Israel Zangwill’s Melting Pot.

And so many all-male quartets!

Be sure to listen to some of their 300 sound recordings, including bird impersonators, dialect comedians, and singing preachers. It’s a little like watching an episode of America’s Got Talent.

You can also read more about the origins of the circuit in The Chautauquan monthly magazine, digitized on Google.

Yours in pedagogy,


Read Full Post »