Dakota Datebook | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook

6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT
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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 1881, a Sentinel Man read the back page of his newspaper to notice its very last advertisement for two million acres of Red River Valley Wheat Lands being sold by the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway Company.


On March 28, 1930, the University of North Dakota's student newspaper, the Dakota Student, reported on a student petition to establish a Carl Ben Eielson Memorial Aviation School. Professor Norman T. Bourke, head of UND's department of mechanical engineering, scoffed, “There is no more a place here at the University for a school of aviation than there is for a school of chauffeurs. After all, the University is a place for mental development and not a place to learn the art of flying.”


North Dakota has a long history of vaccinations, from smallpox to polio. Smallpox was a terrible, contagious disease that could leave people scarred and even blind. Isolation and vaccination were the tools used to fight it. When smallpox epidemics struck, local authorities often ordered vaccinations for everyone. For example, more than 2,000 people were vaccinated in three weeks in Grand Forks in 1899 to curb a smallpox scare.


Wahpeton and Breckenridge had their hands full in 1906 with a typhoid fever epidemic, a rabies scare, and smallpox. Dozens of people fell ill with typhoid fever that winter. Sewage from Breckenridge was blamed for contaminating the drinking water drawn from the Red River. At least four people died.

Tough Sledding

Mar 29, 2021


Winter is often slow to depart the Great Plains. By the end of March, travel can still be an icy challenge. On this date in 1911, the Bismarck Tribune reported on an unfortunate accident. Cars were not yet common, and most people still traveled in horse-drawn vehicles. Mrs. William Baxter of Braddock was severely burned in an accident involving a sleigh.

Alf Clausen

Mar 26, 2021


This Sunday is Alf Clausen’s birthday. He was born in 1941 and grew up in Jamestown. In school he played piano and French horn and sang in the choir. But after high school, he decided to be a mechanical engineer and enrolled at NDSU.

Luckily, a trip to New York brought him to his musical senses. He went to visit his cousin, a piano player in Manhattan, and decided music was where his heart was. He switched his major to music theory, and after NDSU, he entered the Berklee School of Music in Boston where, upon graduating, he was hired as an instructor.

Johnny Kemp

Mar 25, 2021


The National Society for Crippled Children was founded in 1919 to provide services to disabled children. In 1934 the society started an Easter Seal campaign to raise money. The campaign was so popular that the society changed its name to Easter Seals in 1967. Every year Easter Seals chose a poster child to act as an ambassador representing disabled children across the country and to lead the annual Easter Seals campaign. On this date in 1960, Bismarck residents opened the newspaper to see a photograph of the Easter Seals Child of 1960, local boy Johnny Kemp. He is shown proudly handing flowers to First Lady Mamie Eisenhower. Johnny was the first child from North Dakota to be selected as Easter Seals Child of the Year. 


A tradition of wearing new clothes on Christian holiday of Easter dates back to the 16th century, reflecting on resurrection and rebirth. A writer of the time observed that a farmer would sell a cow so he could have new clothes for Easter. In Romeo and Juliet, a character is taunted for wearing his new doublet before Easter. It became an accepted notion that bad luck would follow someone who failed to wear something new for Easter.


James Robinson was eccentric North Dakota Supreme Court justice who opposed vaccinations. He also peddled booze as a cure during the 1918 flu pandemic. Justice Robinson was a Civil War veteran and was first elected at age 73 in 1916. He is remembered for going barefoot and bareheaded outside, even in winter. He rang cowbells to draw crowds for his campaign speeches.

Mylo Hatzenbuhler

Mar 22, 2021


Ladies and Gentlemen… Mylo Hatzenbuhler!

On this date in 1994, came the debut of “I’m Big-Time Now!” a CD by Mylo Hatzenbuhler – who is known as the “Strasburg Superstar.”