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October is American Archives Month, where archives around the country celebrate the records in their holdings and recognize the archivists who assess, collect, organize, preserve, and provide access to information of lasting value. The North Dakota State Archives is part of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

In 1889, the Ladies Historical Society of Bismarck was formed for the purpose of collecting and preserving “the records and relics pertaining to the early settlement of the city and territory in correct and permanent form” and to promote “friendship and goodwill among the early settlers” of Bismarck and North Dakota.

This organization became the roots of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, which today includes Archaeology, Historic Preservation, the State Museum, State Historic Sites, and the State Archives!

The original society at first only allowed members among the ladies living in Burleigh County, but it soon expanded, becoming the Ladies Historical Society of Bismarck and North Dakota, open to all ladies who resided in the northern part of the territory by 1889. Initially, gentlemen could become honorary members, but could not vote or hold office.

Soon, the collections held by the Ladies Historical Society had grown to such an extent that they wished to offer everything to the state for better care. They reorganized under the name “the North Dakota Historical Society,” and listed the following prominent names on their board of directors: Clement A. Lounsberry; Linda Slaughter; Warren C. Baker; M. H. Jewell; and W. T. Cushing.

They also approached the legislature, hoping the state would take on ownership of the collections. Through this, the North Dakota Historical Society was granted some space in the Capitol building to showcase collections.

Today, the original charter for the Ladies Historical Society can be viewed in the Linda Slaughter collection at the North Dakota State Archives, as can many other documents pertaining to the beginning of the state, thanks to the foresight of these early history-thinking individuals.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, December 21, 1894, p5

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, March 1, 1895

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, October 31, 1890, p7

10003, Linda (Warfel) and Benjamin Slaughter Family

North Dakota Blue Book 2015-2017

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