Dakota Datebook | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook

6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT
  • Hosted by Prairie Public

Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoefla to lefse. Dakota Datebook radio features air weekdays at 6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT on Prairie Public. Find the 2003-2017 archives here.

*These airtimes during Main Street may vary.

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Dakota Datebook is generously 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.


On this date in 1918, as World War I raged on across the sea and the Spanish Flu was spreading from community to community, children were looking at a different type of Halloween.


Voting in the November general election was a real concern among North Dakota residents during the 1918 flu pandemic. Authorities estimated the state had 15,000 active cases on this date, which was the deadline for voter registration. One town in southwestern North Dakota reportedly had half of its 100 residents were sick with the flu or had already died from it.

Hazel Nielson

Oct 28, 2020


On this date in 1923, a bold headline on the front page of The Bismarck Tribune declared, “Illiteracy Waning Under Steady Fire.” The State Department of Education had created the slogan “No Illiteracy by 1924.” Hazel Nielson, the directory of adult education, was working tirelessly to make sure that the 9,927 adult North Dakotans who claimed to be illiterate on the 1920 census were reading by the end of the year. She traveled around the state to meet with teachers and organizations working on anti-illiteracy campaigns. Night schools to teach reading were being established around the state. Miss Nielson announced the great progress being made, like in Grand Forks County, where the number of illiterate residents had been reduced from 294 to 174.


On this date in 1915, the front page of the Bismarck Tribune ran an ad for Henry W. Richholt’s Confectionary Store. The advertisement, running several paragraphs, was almost more of an ad for Mr. Richholt himself, singing his praises and describing his many contributions to Bismarck.

Andrew Munson

Oct 23, 2020


On this date in 1940, one of the last North Dakota railroad pioneers died. Andrew Munson, who was 75 years old, helped build the main line of the Soo Line railroad in the state. Mr. Munson was born in 1865 in Norway. He came to the United States in 1887 and settled in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The following year he was hired by the Soo Line. 


North Dakota’s 4th Annual Industrial Exposition took place in Bismarck in October 1914, and the city was bustling with activity. The Bismarck Tribune proudly exclaimed, “Never in the history of the state was there such an elaborate, … extensive, and … excellent display of the state’s products. … Not only is there quantity, but also a quality which is perfection itself, accompanied by beauty unsurpassed.”  

1914 marked the 25th anniversary of statehood, so a special State and Anniversary day was planned for the exposition. Other special days occurred almost every day during the two-week run. On this date, it was suffragist day.  

The Wild West

Oct 21, 2020


The Wild West was not quite as wild as the movies would have us believe. There were some shootouts, but not nearly as many or as dramatic as portrayed. Most of the events were embellished by popular dime novels and magazines like Harper’s Weekly. There were also bank robberies, with outlaws like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Daltons, and the Cole-Younger gang. But bank robberies, too, were not that common. Between 1859 and 1900, there were fewer than ten successful bank robberies reported across the entire frontier west.


On this date in 1912, excitement grew as plans were made for Jane Addams to speak in the state.

Addams was a well-known suffragist, activist, and social reformer. In 1889 she had co-founded Hull House in Chicago, a secular settlement house. She and other residents provided a number of services that were helpful for the community, including kindergarten and day care for working mothers; an employment bureau; an art gallery; libraries; and classes in English, citizenship, theater, music and art.


The Second World War brought about many advancements in technology.  One of these was radar, the ability to detect aircraft at long distances.  Early in the war, large stationary ground-based radars helped the British win the Battle of Britain by giving English fighter aircraft advance warning of the incoming German planes.  Early radar was also installed on a mountain in the Hawaiian Islands before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and while the radar detected the incoming Japanese planes, the information was misinterpreted and not acted upon.

Rural Free Delivery

Oct 16, 2020


Before rural delivery began in 1902, people in rural areas had to pick up their mail at their local post office. This was not always convenient, and in bad weather, mail could be delayed for weeks.