Rotating Historical Exhibits at CWS

Lighted arch that welcome returning servicemen to Sioux Falls in 1919

A lighted arch in Sioux Falls, SD, "honors and welcomes all who have served" following the hostilities of World War I.

The Center has several display cases throughout the galleries that exhibit materials on a variety of changing themes. The current exhibits are:

Where Are We?: Defining the Region in Which We Live

Writers have used various terms to identify the central region of the United States, including "Great American Desert," "Middle Border," "Siouxland," "flyover country," and more recently "the big empty" and "the lost region." In conjunction with our upcoming Dakota Conference on regional identity, this exhibit explores the origins and definitions of these terms. The difficulties inherent in defining these regions are demonstrated with maps. Visitors are asked to consider what geographical and demographic characteristics serve to identify each region, if these characteristics are changing, and whether these distinctions and labels make sense today. Go a step further with MyMidwest, an interactive mapping survey developed by Sasaki Associates in Massachusetts, conveniently located on a kiosk accompanying the exhibit. Here's your chance to join the conversation and see how people from different areas of the country and even outside the United States define the Midwest.

(Re)Reporting an Assassination

This April marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The events of that fateful day were reported in seven editions of the New York Herald, copies of which have become highly sought after collectibles. But these editions are also some of the most widely reproduced newspapers in world history. Think your family heirloom is an original? Learn how to identify reproductions in this new exhibit with examples from the CWS collections.

Honoring the Service of South Dakotans in World War I

On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, formally entering a conflict which had already raged in Europe for almost three years. By the time the war ended in November of 1918, around 30,000 South Dakotans had served as soldiers and sailors. The documents and artifacts on display are various expressions of gratitude to South Dakota’s doughboys and sailors who served during World War I. Many of the materials are donations to the CWS research collections.

Where in the World? The Many Uses of Passports

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? When people today plan an international trip, the most vital document they have is their passport. A person’s passport allows them entry into over 170 nations across the globe, and reaffirms their status as United States citizens. This exhibit examines the history, design and function of the passport in the United States, using examples from the CWS collections and archives. 

The South Dakota Ornithologists' Union

Founded in 1949, the South Dakota Ornithologists' Union (SDOU) works to promote the study of ornithology and, more specifically, the study of bird life in South Dakota. A leading authority on the subject, the SDOU strives for systematic reporting and recording of species presence and distribution in the state. This exhibit demonstrates the birding SDOU members do in the field and highlights the various public benefits that arise from their efforts. The materials are from SDOU's official organization records which are archived at CWS and available for public research.

There are exhibits on permanent themes in addition to those listed above.