Dakota Datebook



Stories of things that happened in North Dakota and vicinity. Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoefla to lefse. In partnership with the Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the North Dakota Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.


  • Arikaras in the Fargo Forum

    24/09/2021 Duração: 03min

    On this date in 1921, the front page of the second section of the Fargo Forum's Saturday evening edition led with the article headlined, “Arikara Indians Stage Ancient Ceremonial at Fort Berthold."

  • War Drives in North Dakota

    23/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    During World War II, the American public paid exceptional attention to the needs of their local community as well as the needs of the troops. One of the frequent citizen-led activities were drives for needed items during the long, weary days and years of the war. Virtually every newspaper in the country kept people apprised of those needs.

  • Demise of President Bush's Elm

    22/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    Visits of sitting presidents to North Dakota have been few and far between, but one of the most memorable was of President George Bush Sr. planting an elm outside the state Capitol to commemorate North Dakota’s centennial in 1989.

  • Redeveloping Manpower on Fort Berthold

    21/09/2021 Duração: 03min

    The 1950s are remembered fondly by most US history textbooks. Known as the Eisenhower era, the postwar years were considered a new height of prosperity, with median family purchasing power increasing as much as 30%. Unfortunately, that prosperity was not universally shared. While many Americans were celebrating the end of World War II, indigenous people on the Fort Berthold reservation were being forced into a settlement agreement over losses they would suffer due to the Garrison Dam. After this settlement they experienced an economic decline aggravated by drought, poor relationships with the surrounding governments, and their decreasing ownership of the land.

  • The Grand Pacific Hotel

    20/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    In 1889, Louis Peterson opened the Pacific Hotel in Bismarck. He named it in honor of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Only three years later, Peterson died.Henry Tatley acquired the hotel when he married Peterson’s widow in 1897. The original hotel was a wooden building, but in 1906, Tatley added a brick structure at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway at a cost of $60,000, the equivalent of nearly two million dollars today.

  • Sabin Oral Vaccine

    17/09/2021 Duração: 03min

    Ask anyone old enough to remember the polio years, and they will probably recall waiting in line to take a vaccine on a sugar cube. Dr. Jonas Salk gets a lot of credit for developing a vaccine to defeat polio, but this oral vaccine came out years afterward, developed by his rival, Dr. Albert Sabin.

  • Blue Laws, Part Two

    16/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    In 1917, laws governing what could happen on Sundays, the Blue laws, seemed to be on the brink of change in North Dakota, but many of those bills failed, including a bill allowing shooting and hunting on Sundays.

  • Blue Laws, Part One

    15/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    North Dakota used to have a number of restrictions affecting Sunday activities. These are known as Blue Laws. During the 1917 legislative session, bills were introduced to relax those laws, proposing that movie theaters be allowed to open, baseball games could be played, and shooting and hunting would be permitted.

  • Two Men Hang

    13/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    Two men were executed in North Dakota on this date in 1900. Their cases were unrelated. On March 19th, James Jenkins and his son, Ira, reported that August Stark had frozen to death in a coal mine near Wilton. The father and son were the mine operators, and Stark an employee. The victim showed signs of having been dragged to the spot where he was found. When the Jenkins men were separately interviewed, they told contradictory stories, and both were charged with murder.

  • 9/11 Attack

    13/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    “Recovering from the unbelievable” screamed the headline of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on this date in 2001. Newspapers across the nation likewise printed breaking reports of the surprise attack on New York City and Washington DC’s Pentagon building.

  • President Wilson in Bismarck

    10/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    President Woodrow Wilson visited North Dakota only once – in 1919. The First World War had ended, and Wilson wanted to convince the Nation that the United States should accept the Treaty of Versailles and become a member of the newly proposed League of Nations. He carried out his campaign by way of an 8,000-mile train trip, to the West Coast and back.

  • Maris and McGwire

    09/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    On this date in 1998, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire shattered the longtime home run record set by North Dakota’s Roger Maris. With his historic homer electrifying baseball fans, both McGwire and Maris were front page news.

  • Terrible Drought

    08/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    Too much or too little water are extremes North Dakota knows all too well. Terrible droughts and destructive floods dot the state’s history. On the wet side, there was the historic 1897 Red River flood and the mammoth rains of the 1990s that swelled Devils Lake. On the dry side, nothing tops the Dust Bowl, when temperatures soared into the triple digits, wind blasted away soil, and farmers and ranchers were left in ruins.

  • The Legend of Jesse James

    07/09/2021 Duração: 03min

    Jesse James was a legend in his own time throughout the Dakota Territory. Born in Missouri, he was sixteen when he joined the Confederate guerilla band of Bloody Bill Anderson. After the war, Jesse and his older brother Frank felt humiliated by the Union victory. They organized a gang and carried out bank robberies. Jesse craved attention. He began writing his own press releases and leaving them in the gang’s wake. He used newspapers to build his reputation as a Robin Hood, helping Missourians he thought were being crushed by the North. He said, “We are not thieves. We are bold robbers.”

  • Roger Maris

    06/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    Roger Maris, Fargo and North Dakota’s hometown hero lost his 37-year-old homerun record to St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire in September 1998. Baseball’s waning days that September had christened a new member of batter royalty.

  • Oliver Evans, Photographer

    03/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    In late August, 1911, a horrible fire in Topeka, Kansas did more than one hundred thousand dollars damage in the business district. The reports noted that the J. C. Gresser furniture company, and the Grebbs clothing company were hit the hardest, but what caught readers’ attention in North Dakota was the news that photo studio also burned, killing a man named Evans, who lived in the studio.

  • 1918 Flu Cures

    02/09/2021 Duração: 02min

    North Dakotans took many steps to fight the 1918 flu pandemic. Bismarck had a mask mandate for waitresses and other food handlers. Schools and businesses around the state closed – some for months. There was even a vaccine, though it turned out to be useless.

  • Public Radio in North Dakota

    01/09/2021 Duração: 03min

    Prairie Public has been broadcasting original and PBS television programs since 1964, but on this date in 1981, Prairie Public added radio when KCND 90.5 FM in Bismarck began broadcasting. And from the start, it was a member station of National Public Radio, which had been established ten year earlier.

  • Keys and Aliases

    31/08/2021 Duração: 02min

    On this date in 1916, J. E. Shannon was being held in the Cass County jail. He had been arrested in March after a robbery and gunfight in a Drugstore in Davenport, south of Fargo. Five months later, on August 24th, Sheriff John Ross discovered something unusual.

  • Towner Clam Bake

    30/08/2021 Duração: 02min

    As a land-locked state, North Dakota is not known for sea fare. But on this date in 1914, Towner, North Dakota was gearing up for a good, old-fashioned clam bake!