State Historical Society brings back rare film from 1961 Dakota Territory Centennial

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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — More than 100 people saw a special slice of South Dakota’s past Friday at the State Historical Society convention.

They sat for a showing of the 1961 black-and-white Governors’ Centennial Salute, marking 100 years since the establishment of Dakota Territory, and listened to seven of state government’s chief executives briefly highlight on screen their times as governors.

Conference-goers also heard from Paul Eisloeffel, a curator for the Nebraska State Historical Society. Working as a free-lancer at his home lab at Lincoln, Eisloeffel, converted the original 16-millimeter program to the modern digitized version shown Friday.

The film originally was made in KELO’s TV studio in Sioux Falls as part of a college course that students could take for credit from their living rooms.

The program’s first portion featured taped segments from then-Governor Archie Gubbrud and six of his predecessors: Leslie Jensen, M.Q. Sharpe, George T. Mickelson, Joe Foss, Ralph Herseth and Sigurd Anderson.

There also was a letter read from an eighth, William H. McMaster.

Later all but Anderson and McMaster gathered at a boomerang-shaped table and shared more comments.

Matthew Reitzel, an archivist for the South Dakota society, introduced the film. He said many cities and counties published histories for the teritorial centennial and the state Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre — built as South Dakota’s gift to itself for the statehood centennial in 1989 — has three scrapbooks of memorabilia from 1961.

One of the black-and-white photos shown to the audience displayed the Dakotarama mobile-trailer museum that toured the state during the territorial centennial.

“Their goal was to bring South Dakota to South Dakotans,” Reitzel said.

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