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Frank E. Denholm Papers

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Dust and time shall decay principalities, mansions, and men,
but the measure of ever having been is the legacy of each generation to the next again and again.

-Frank E. Denholm

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Collection Summary


MA 74


Frank E. Denholm Papers


Frank E. Denholm




17.39 linear feet (11 records center boxes, 3 oversize boxes) 4 framed items, photographs




South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.

Access note

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Preferred Citation

Name of item. Frank E. Denholm Papers. MA 74. South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Frank E. Denholm was born on his parents’ homestead in Scotland Township in Day County, South Dakota on November 29, 1923. During his life, he held several positions such as farmer, auctioneer, F.B.I. agent, lawyer, and United States Congressman from South Dakota’s First Congressional District from 1971 to 1975. The papers consist mostly of materials created during the time he served in Congress. These items document his campaigns for Congress, and his work for rural America, particularly his effort to reinstate the Rural Electrification Act and numerous legislation regarding agriculture, rural water, and rural development. Information regarding Denholm’s wife, Mildred Niehaus Denholm, is included in the collection. The Frank E. Denholm Papers contain press releases, newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, audio and video recordings, and campaign artifacts.

Biographical Note

Franklin Edvard Denholm was born on November 29, 1923 to John J. and Laura Anna (Mathias) Denholm on his parents’ homestead in Scotland Township in Day County, South Dakota. He farmed, operated an interstate truck transport business, and became well-known as an auctioneer after he finished his education in public schools. He married Mildred T. Niehaus on June 12, 1950 in Webster, South Dakota. Denholm was elected and served as Day County Sheriff from 1950-1952 and was a delegate to the South Dakota State Democratic conventions from 1950-1952.

Frank Denholm received a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science in 1956 from South Dakota State College in Brookings, South Dakota. He also had sufficient academic credit hours for majors in economics, history, and speech. While a student at SDSU he won first place in Men’s Oratory in South Dakota Intercollegiate Forensics and in Men’s Original Oratory in national competition at Redlands University in California. Denholm was also a member of numerous student organizations including Delta Sigma Alpha, Toastmasters, Ag Econ Club, International Relations, and served as President of the Blue Key National Honors Society. He was nominated to “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities” during his last year at SDSU.

Frank Denholm then pursued a Master’s degree at the University of Minnesota, which was interrupted by his appointment as a Special Agent of the FBI by J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, D.C. He accepted the appointment as an FBI Agent, serving from 1956 to 1961.

Denholm received his Jurist Doctorate degree of law from the University of South Dakota and was admitted to the South Dakota bar in 1962. He practiced law in Brookings, South Dakota as corporate counsel for the cities of Brookings, Volga, and White from 1962 to 1971. He was also admitted and authorized to practice law in Federal District Court (Southern Division); U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, St. Louis, MO; the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Washington, D.C.; the Supreme Court of the United States; and the Tax Courts of the United States. Denholm was also a lecturer in economics, law, and political science at South Dakota State University from 1962 to 1966 and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

Frank E. Denholm was elected to the Ninety-second and Ninety-third Congresses and served from January 3, 1971 to January 3, 1975. Some of the legislation he sponsored and supported that was enacted into law are: The Rural Telephone Act of 1971, The Rural Development Act of 1972, and the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. The Senate version of the “Denholm Bill” reinstated the Rural Electrification Act in 1973 after President Nixon ceased to uphold the provisions of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.

Denholm resumed his Brookings legal practice after an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1974. He was a member of the International Fraternity of Phi Kappa Delta, the American Bar Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association, South Dakota Peace Officers Association, the Isaac Walton League, and the St. Thomas More Catholic Parish. Denholm also served as Kiwanis President and Trustee of the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks. He received numerous honors including being named in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Government, Personalities in the West and in the Mid-West, and Men of Achievement. He died on April 7, 2016 in Brookings, South Dakota.

Contents Note

The Frank E. Denholm Papers consist mostly of materials generated during the time he served as the representative to South Dakota’s First Congressional District, from 1971 to 1975. These materials document his work for rural America, particularly his effort to reinstate the Rural Electrification Act and numerous legislation regarding agriculture, rural water, and rural development. Press releases and newspaper clippings about his activities in Congress can be found in the papers. The collection also includes scrapbooks and memorabilia about his campaigns for Congress. In addition, there are several files of correspondence, some of which was with members of Congress and other notable people such as George McGovern and Richard Kneip. The collection includes nearly 1,500 photographs and slides, most of which relate to his campaigns for Congress. There are reel-to-reel audio recordings and video recordings on 2-inch quad video tape that consist of campaign advertisements and his work in Congress. The collection also documents Denholm’s career as a sheriff, auctioneer, F.B.I. agent, and lawyer.

The papers also contain documents relating to Frank Denholm’s wife, Mildred Niehaus Denholm. Mrs. Denholm was born May 9, 1927 to Frank F. and Elizabeth C. (Schuring) Niehaus from Andover, South Dakota. She married Frank Denholm on June 12, 1950 in Webster, South Dakota. She attended Northern State Teachers College in Aberdeen, SD and taught in rural schools. Mrs. Denholm also went to the Aberdeen School of Business, the Strayer Business College in Washington, D.C., and the University of Utah where she studied music. She worked as a medical and legal secretary. Mrs. Denholm actively campaigned for her husband. She was involved in the Congressional Women’s Club while Denholm was in office. Mrs. Denholm passed away August 14, 2014. The collection includes correspondence between Frank and Mildred Denholm and her activities with the Congressional Women’s Club.

Key Words

  • Agricultural laws and legislation -- United States
  • Auctioneers
  • Campaign advertising
  • Denholm, Frank E. (Frank Edvard), 1923-2016
  • Denholm, Mildred
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (U.S.)
  • Rural electrification
  • Sheriffs (Day County : S.D.)
  • South Dakota – History
  • South Dakota -- Politics and government
  • United States. Congress. House
  • United States. House of Representatives

Container List


Frank E. Denholm Papers Container List. MA 74

619Andover High School Class of 1941 Round Robin1989-2012
82Audio recordings: Denholm (2 reel-to-reel audio tapes)1970, undated
83Audio recordings: Denholm (2 reel-to-reel audio tapes)undated
84Audio recordings: Denholm (4 reel-to-reel audio tapes)1971, undated
85Audio recordings: Denholm (4 reel-to-reel audio tapes)undated
81Audio recordings: Denholm for Congress radio advertising (4 reel-to-reel audio tapes)1974, undated
86Audio recordings: Grant Association meeting (3 reel-to-reel audio tapes)1968
11Biographical information: Autobiography of Frank Denholm1997, undated
12Biographical information: Biographies1963-2000
13Biographical information: Denholm Family history1969-2013
14Biographical information: Education1956-1962
15Biographical information: Memorials and obituaries2016
144Certificates (Oversize)1948-1996
115Congress: 1972 General Election in South Dakota: an Analysis by the South Dakota Farmer's Union1972
116Congress: Asia delegation trip1971
117Congress: Asia delegation trip1971
21Congress: Campaign1968
22Congress: Campaign1972
23Congress: Campaign advertising on radio and television1970
24Congress: Campaign buttons and bumper stickers1970-1974
25Congress: Campaign certificate of nomination1970-1974
26Congress: Campaign finance report1970
27Congress: Campaign finance report1971
28Congress: Campaign finance report1972
29Congress: Campaign finance report1973
210Congress: Campaign finance report1974
10ItemCongress: Campaign hats (4 Denholm for Congress hats)undated
211Congress: Campaign materials1970-1974
142Congress: Campaign newspaper advertisements (Oversize)1970, 1972
143Congress: Campaign posters (Oversize)undated
212Congress: Campaign South Dakota Counties, Duel Countyundated
213Congress: Campaign South Dakota Counties, Kingsbury County1971
214Congress: Campaign South Dakota Counties, McCook County1972
215Congress: Campaign South Dakota Counties, Turner Countyundated
216Congress: Campaign South Dakota Counties, Union Countyundated
217Congress: Certificate for Election1970, 1972
218Congress: Congress to the Country, Tip O'Neill visit to South Dakota1973
219Congress: Democratic Congress Dinner1971
220Congress: Democratic study group1973-1974
221Congress: Democrats Picked the Winners, Democratic Headquarters, Kingsbury County, Lake Preston, South Dakota1970
222Congress: Directory and information booklet1970, 1971
223Congress: Financial disclosure reports1971-1974
224Congress: Huber, Royce1973
225Congress: Issues: Agriculture1971-1974
226Congress: Issues: Agriculture1971-1975
227Congress: Issues: Rural electrification1971
228Congress: Issues: Vietnam1973
229Congress: Issues: Water resource development1972
32Congress: Know Your Congress, 92nd Congress1971
230Congress: Legislation sponsored and co-sponsored1971-1972
231Congress: Legislation sponsored and co-sponsored1971-1973
31Congress: Legislation sponsored and co-sponsored1973-1974
33Congress: Office finances1971-1974
34Congress: Office memorandum1974
35Congress: Office staff1974
36Congress: Planning calendar1972
37Congress: Press releases1968
38Congress: Press releases1969
39Congress: Press releases1970
310Congress: Press releases1971
311Congress: Press releases1971
312Congress: Press releases1971
313Congress: Press releases1972
314Congress: Press releases1972
315Congress: Press releases1972
316Congress: Press releases1972
317Congress: Press releases1973
318Congress: Press releases1973
319Congress: Press releases1973
320Congress: Press releases1974
321Congress: Press releases1974
322Congress: Press releases1974
323Congress: Pressler, Larry1974-1975
41Congress: Rural caucus1973-1974
42Congress: Social events and memorials1971-1974
43Congress: South Dakota license plate1974
44Congress: Stationary1971-1974
45Congress: Voting record1971-1972
411Correspondence: Hoover, J. Edgar (includes memorial)1962, 1972
47Correspondence: A-M1962-1987
410Correspondence: Daschle, Tom1972
412Correspondence: Kneip, Richard1974-1977
413Correspondence: McGovern, George1967-1975
48Correspondence: N-Z1962-1982
414Denholm, Mildred: Autobiography1972-1992, undated
415Denholm, Mildred: Biographical information1934-1949
418Denholm, Mildred: Congressional wives organizations1971-1974
419Denholm, Mildred: Congressional wives organizations1971-1975
417Denholm, Mildred: Correspondence between Frank and Mildred1972
416Denholm, Mildred: Correspondence between Frank and Mildred1946-1956
420Denholm, Mildred: Letters to Mildred1971-2000
421Denholm, Mildred: Obituary and memorial2014
422Denholm, Mildred: Political Wife, by Mildred Denholmundated
423Kiwanis Club1962-2010
426Newspaper clippings1967
427Newspaper clippings1967
428Newspaper clippings1968
429Newspaper clippings1968
51Newspaper clippings1970
52Newspaper clippings1970
53Newspaper clippings1971
54Newspaper clippings1971
57Newspaper clippings1973
58Newspaper clippings1973
59Newspaper clippings1974
510Newspaper clippings1974
511Newspaper clippings1975
512Newspaper clippings1975
513Newspaper clippings1976
514Newspaper clippings1976
515Newspaper clippings1977
516Newspaper clippings1977
517Newspaper clippings1978
518Newspaper clippings1978
519Newspaper clippings1979
520Newspaper clippings1979
521Newspaper clippings1980
522Newspaper clippings1980
523Newspaper clippings1984
524Newspaper clippings1984
424Newspaper clippings1948-1965
425Newspaper clippings1948-1966
430Newspaper clippings1969
431Newspaper clippings1969
55Newspaper clippings1972
56Newspaper clippings1972
525Newspaper clippings1994-2012
526Newspaper clippingsundated
527Newspaper clippingsundated
145Newspapers (Oversize)1971-1974
528Non-congressional career: Auctioneerundated
141Non-congressional career: Auctioneer posters (Oversize)1955, undated
529Non-congressional career: Federal Bureau of Investigations, news clippings1958
530Non-congressional career: Federal Bureau of Investigations, reunion2004
531Non-congressional career: Ledger book1949-1952
532Non-congressional career: Sheriff of Day County, South Dakota1951-1952
533Non-congressional career: Trucking Company owner1945-1948
534Other politicians: Campaign materials for other candidates1970-1976
535Other politicians: Inauguration of Governor Richard Kneip1971
536Other politicians: Inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower1957
537Other politicians: Inauguration of President Jimmy Carter1977
538Other politicians: Inauguration of President Richard Nixon1973
539Other politicians: Robert Kennedy Memorial1968
11ItemPen from the Nixon Whitehouse 
71Photographs1943, 1953, 1956-1958
72Photographs1960, 1962, 1964
711Photographs1968 December
77Photographs1968 May
710Photographs1968 November
79Photographs1968 October
78Photographs1968 September
714Photographs1970 August
717Photographs1970 December
713Photographs1970 July
716Photographs1970 November
715Photographs1970 October
721Photographs1971 April
725Photographs1971 August
728Photographs1971 December
719Photographs1971 February
718Photographs1971 January
724Photographs1971 July
723Photographs1971 June
720Photographs1971 March
722Photographs1971 May
727Photographs1971 November
726Photographs1971 October
734Photographs1972 August
736Photographs1972 December
730Photographs1972 February
729Photographs1972 January
732Photographs1972 June
731Photographs1972 May
735Photographs1972 November
738Photographs1973 March-April, July
741Photographs1973 November
740Photographs1973 October
739Photographs1973 September
146Photographs (Oversize)undated
733Photographs 1972 Rapid City flood scrapbook1972 June 9
756Photographs Campaignsundated
757Photographs Campaignsundated
758Photographs Candidundated
759Photographs Denholm in Washington D.C.undated
760Photographs Denholm in Washington D.C.undated
761Photographs Denholm in Washington D.C.undated
762Photographs Denholm Seed Co.undated
763Photographs Denholm Waterfowl Protection Areaundated
764Photographs Eventsundated
765Photographs FBI and auctioneerundated
766Photographs Frank and Mildred Denholmundated
767Photographs Groups, Etc.undated
737Photographs Korean Delegation1973
768Photographs Portraitsundated
769Photographs Portraitsundated
770Photographs Portraitsundated
771Photographs Swearing Inundated
772Photographs Venezuela Delegationundated
11ItemPlaques and framed photograph 
540Quotes from Frank E. Denholmundated
12ScrapbookScrapbook (Oversize)1942-1959
12ScrapbookScrapbook (Oversize)1968
12ScrapbookScrapbook (Oversize)1971-1973
12ScrapbookScrapbook (Oversize)1973-1974
13ScrapbookScrapbook Election (Oversize)1970
13ScrapbookScrapbook Election (Oversize)1972
13ScrapbookScrapbook Election (Oversize)1974
13ScrapbookScrapbook Election (Oversize)1974
61South Dakota State University1953, 1973
62South Dakota State University Coursework: Freshman Year1953-1954
64South Dakota State University Coursework: Freshman Year1953-1954
63South Dakota State University Coursework: Freshman Year1953-1955
67South Dakota State University Coursework: Junior Year1954-1955
68South Dakota State University Coursework: Junior Year1954-1955
69South Dakota State University Coursework: Junior Year1954-1955
610South Dakota State University Coursework: Senior Year1955-1956
611South Dakota State University Coursework: Senior Year1955-1956
612South Dakota State University Coursework: Senior Year1955-1956
65South Dakota State University Coursework: Sophomore Year1954
66South Dakota State University Coursework: Sophomore Year1954
613South Dakota State University Denholm Farm Gift2011
614South Dakota State University Sylvan Circle membership2003
615Speaking engagements by Denholm1963-1971
616Speeches by Denholm1971-1997
617Statement on issues1978
87Video recordings: Denholm, January 19, 1971 (2 inch quad tape)1971
94Video recordings: Denholm, July 12, 1971 (2 inch quad tape)1971
92Video recordings: Denholm, May 11, 1971 (2 inch quad tape)1971
93Video recordings: Denholm, May 11, 1971 (2 inch quad tape)1971
88Video recordings: Denholm, November 29, 1971 (2 inch quad tape)1971
91Video recordings: Denholm, November 29, 1971 (2 inch quad tape)1971
95Video recordings: Denholm, undated (2 inch quad tape)undated

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Copyright note

Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.

Arranged and Described by

Michele Christian, Archivist, October 2016