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Katherine Jewell

In 1911, the State Historical Society of North Dakota had only one paid employee with an office in the capitol. In 1914, the first librarian was hired. And in November of 1915, Mrs. Katherine Jewell was hired as the first newspaper clerk.

The main duties of librarian and newspaper clerk were to work with the two-dimensional objects that are still collected in the Archives today. But also, having another paid staff member in Bismarck meant that when the librarian or curator were gone, Mrs. Jewell could keep the State Historical Society office open. She also did some work in the museum. Her primary duties, to look after the newspapers, was also especially helpful, since state had law mandated that all newspapers must be sent to the Historical Society since 1905.

As part of her tasks, Mrs. Jewell sought lost copies and kept up with filing the numerous issues. In a report in September 1916, Librarian Georgia Carpenter noted that Mrs. Jewell had “mounted many copies of old newspapers among which are early issues of the Bismarck Tribune, early Fargo papers, and many others…. The files of papers are used constantly by the departments located in the capitol. Only one instance will suffice to show their value. During one day, 53 papers were consulted by a department, and the information found saved the writing of 53 letters.”

Mrs. Jewell was the widow of Marshall Jewell, former publisher of the Bismarck Tribune. Aside from his career in the newspaper business, Marshall Jewell had played a role in the Historical Society for many years, and Katherine had also been involved in the community. The Weekly Times-Record noted, “Mrs. Jewell is one of the pioneer women of Dakota, is well posted on the history of the territory and state, and has been prominent in club and literary work for many years. Her husband was one of the organizers of the State Historical Society, was vice president from its beginning until his death, and was instrumental in securing its first appropriation from the legislature.”

A position at the Historical Society surely meant something for Mrs. Jewell.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, 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 Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.