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World War I and South Dakota State: exhibits look at war’s impact on people and campus

There are a lof of facts and stories out there about World War I, especially as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States' entrance into the conflict, but do you know the South Dakota State story?


The Archives & Special Collections and the Government Documents department at Briggs Library have created a number of exhibits that detail how the Great War (1914-1918) affected campus life and people.


The exhibit Over Here: South Dakota State During World War I details the contributions of State to the war effort. Military exercises were carried out on campus, a women's dorm was converted into barracks for trainees, and emergency courses were offered. Some of these additional courses, like auto mechanics, continued after the war. The school offered training to improve food production and preservation endeavors as well. The Extension Service, which had just been introduced at State in 1917 and started with 14 agents, expanded across South Dakota and had 47 agents by the end of the war.


Over Here also reveals the human impact of WWI at State. More than 400 students and graduates entered the service, of which 27 lost their lives. About one-fourth of the faculty positions were vacant by August 1918 due to staff leaving for the war.


Wartime artwork is the subject of the Harvey Dunn: American Expeditionary Force Artist 1918-1919 exhibit. It features a selection of Dunn's images from the National Archives. Dunn, who came to State as a preparatory student in 1901, spent nearly a year in France with troops capturing their experiences and emotions using charcoal, crayon, pastels, watercolors, and oil.


A display on Edgar Sharp McFadden, famed wheat geneticist and 1918 State graduate, includes copies of his Order of Induction and Honorable Discharge papers, as well as his WWI US Army wallet and identification card. There is also an assortment of WWI patches and insignia.


The exhibit in Government Documents takes a broader look at the war and highlights national leaders, US propganda posters, battlefield conditions, and other general facts, such as WWI was the first war that employed aircraft.


Visitors can see the exhibits throught the summer. Photos and descriptions of the displays are also going online at