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Dakota Datebook
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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.

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  • May is National Historic Preservation Month. Today, we celebrate a North Dakota example by highlighting a State Historic Site on the "National Register of Historic Places."
  • The 1930s were chaotic for North Dakota politics. In one seven-month period, four men served as governor. Similarly, five men served as state tax commissioner over a few months in 1938 and 1939. The tax commissioner oversees state tax collections.
  • The Dakota Zoo got its start on the farm of Marc and Betty Christianson, which was located on the northern edge of Bismarck. What started as a boarding kennel for dogs gradually expanded to include a variety of domestic animals. People in the neighborhood regarded the farm as a safe haven for animals, so they brought stray and injured animals to the farm knowing they would be cared for.
  • Agnes Shurr was born near Glenburn, North Dakota in 1915 and grew up on a farm. She followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a nurse after studying at St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Minot. Agnes worked at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, but in 1928 decided to join the Navy to see the world and earn more money.
  • North Dakotans have sometimes found themselves in the thick of historical disasters. In 1915, early in World War One, a German U-boat torpedoed the SS Lusitania off the Irish coast. The ocean liner sank within 20 minutes. Over 60% of the passengers died.
  • On May 8th 1873, more than a decade before North Dakota became a state, Episcopal clergyman Charles Swift baptized the infant son of Lieutenant and Mrs. Humbert at Camp Hancock in what was reported to be the first Protestant service held in Bismarck.
  • According to the Bismarck Historical Society, on this date in 1912 there was something lacking in the city of Bismarck — a public library. The public could borrow from the state library at the Capitol, but the lack of a public library still marked Bismarck as less than modern.
  • It was early May in 1960 that the northernmost stretch of I-29 was dedicated. It was the first US Interstate to connect to an international border. But even though the stretch was dedicated, it still wasn't ready. It would take seventeen more years for the highway to be completed.
  • The 1904 Lewis and Clark Centennial and Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair, known simply as the World’s Fair, was held in St. Louis. With everything from new foods like ice cream cones to the first Ferris wheel, the fair was a combination of trade show, museum, amusement park, and food court.
  • On this date in 1910, the News of the North section of the Fargo Forum included another example of community cooperation. “Neighbors Put in Widow’s Crop,” the headline began, followed by “Kindhearted North Dakotans Come to Rescue of Unfortunate Woman.” It was a story out of Goodrich, North Dakota, where neighbors came to help Mrs. L. Anderson.