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Archives Month, Part 8 (Final)

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Today, with American Archives Month winding down, we conclude our series on North Dakota’s State Archives, which are part of State Historical Society.

Herbert Fish was curator for the historical society from July 1907 until August 1915. He was a strong force, travelling the state to conduct field work, and collect documents and artifacts. He didn’t always have to go far; a report in local newspapers stated that he played a lucky role in saving the private correspondence of the state and territorial governors. Their letters were found in a vault at the Capitol where the society had its office. The letters were about to be destroyed by the janitor when Fish discovered them. Instead of ending up in the ash heap, they were added to the society’s collections.

When Fish resigned as curator, a number of applicants applied. One was Katherine Jewell, widow of the late Marshall Jewell, who was the second editor of the Bismarck Tribune, a position he held for more than thirty years. He was very involved in the community. His obituary stated, “His time was always at the disposal of the state and its interests.”

Many people supported hiring Katherine Jewell, in part because of her connection to the newspaper and her history in Bismarck, and in part because she was caring for her family and needed the money.

Governor Hanna wrote: “Her husband… was a member for many years of the State Historical Society and did a great deal of work for it without any remuneration … it would please him to know that we were endeavouring to help the wife whom he left behind.”

Secretary of State Thomas Hall wrote: “Mrs. Jewell has been a resident of the state for more than 33 years, is a well-educated and well-informed woman who has taken a great interest in the history of the state, and I believe is accomplished for the work.”

Despite these endorsements, she was up against candidates with education and experience in the field. Dr. Melvin Gilmore, from Nebraska, was hired.

However, that November Katherine still found a job with the archives, helping with the newspaper collection. She wrote, “I appreciate… the opportunity to help complete the work my late husband began. I feel sure I can be of value to the society.”

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 5, 1915, p2 / Jamestown Weekly Alert, March 11, 1915, p1

Bismarck Daily Tribune, February 11, 1911, obituary Marshall Jewell, p1

SHSND MSS 10085, box 6, folder 30, folder 29

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.

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