Story Circle Book Reviews, “Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey”

In her new memoir, Darcy Lipp-Acord writes about how she learned to embrace the agricultural lifestyle to which she was born. She also affirms her voice as a writer. She explores her faith and motherhood, and the choices they demand, and brings alive the push and pull of compromise that makes an enduring marriage. She thinks about community. But most importantly, she writes that precious and still rare thing: the truth of a woman’s life. [. . .] Because she writes well, and makes us care, it is a joy when Darcy Lipp-Acord can say, “I feel like I’ve finally arrived.” How she gets there makes a fine story, one that might inspire, a good one to pass along to a friend.

Susan Schoch, Story Circle Book Reviews

Read the full review here.

Dakota Midday Interview with Darcy Lipp-Acord, “Circling Back Home”


“As I studied literature in college. . . .  there just wasn’t a lot out there about the woman who tended the home fires, who ran to town for parts, who cooked the meals, who took care of the children. There is a body of literature about the cowgirl who is out there alongside her husband, and that’s honorable in its own right, but I felt like the story of so many women of the plains needed to be honored—because of their importance, not just in an agricultural lifestyle, but any lifestyle. . . .”—Darcy Lipp-Acord speaking about Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey on Dakota Midday, 24 February 2014.

Listen to the rest of her interview here.

Darcy Lipp-Acord will be speaking live for the History and Heritage Book Club at three locations via the Digital Dakota Network on 11 March 2014.

  • Pierre:  Cultural Heritage Center, 7PM CST
  • Rapid City: South Dakota School of Mines, Classroom Building, room 109, 6PM MST
  • Sioux Falls: South Dakota University Center, Administration Building, room 145, 7PM CST

Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey is available for $16.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. Visit or call (605) 773-6009. For publicity information, please contact our Marketing Director at

New Words, Old Words

In the course of my work making editors’ corrections to the “Pioneer Girl” annotations, I have come across several unfamiliar words. Most of these terms have simply fallen out of usage and been forgotten. Some became clear as I read through the manuscript, but others remain puzzling.

When I first read of a “lunatic fringe” in “Pioneer Girl,” for example, I immediately thought of its modern definition, which refers to a fanatical group. I was surprised to learn, as many Wilder fans may already know, that the term referred to the bangs that fall across one’s forehead. Apparently, this hairstyle was not looked on especially favorably in the late 1800s.

“Fichu” was another unfamiliar word. Laura’s good friend, Ida Brown, gave her one as a wedding gift. The vintage dictionary we sometimes consult here in the office defines a fichu as a small cape, usually made from lace and triangular in shape, similar to a scarf. I also learned that this very fichu is on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.

When Laura became engaged, she wore the garnet-and-pearl ring Almanzo gave her on her “first finger.” This one still has me stumped. Did she wear it on her index finger, or was the nineteenth-century “first finger” what we call a “ring finger” today?

I had also never heard of “lawn” in connection with a dress. Laura had a pink sprigged “lawn” dress. I have since learned that lawn is a sheer, lightweight fabric, now usually woven from cotton but, in the nineteenth century, also made from linen.

Laura’s father, Charles, would sometimes sit with the graybeards in the “Amen corner” of the First Congregational Church. I now know that those who led congregational responses or who were especially ardent worshippers would sit in that section.

In These Happy Golden Years, Laura wore her new hat, which she described as “a sage-green, rough straw, in poke-bonnet shape.” I have since learned that a poke bonnet is one with a projecting brim or front, designed to shade the face. “Pie-plant” had me stumped at first, too, but the definition of garden rhubarb makes sense.

Little did I know that working with the Pioneer Girl Project would expand my vocabulary in so many ways.  I’m looking forward to solving the next “word mystery.”


Dempster Book on Sioux Falls Wins National Award

Nof12thSt-AwardStickerA former state senator’s book has won national honors. North of Twelfth Street: The Changing Face of Sioux Falls Neighborhoods features Tom Dempster’s photographs and has earned one of ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press published the book in 2012.


In North of Twelfth Street, Dempster shows the changing landscape of Sioux Falls through beautiful images and insights into his hometown.

ForeWord Reviews presents the awards to the best works coming from today’s independent, university and small press communities. “The book is an offering to my Sioux Falls.  I am thrilled and thankful for this award,” said Dempster.

Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota and has a rich history and distinct neighborhoods. Born and raised in Sioux Falls, Dempster knows these neighborhoods well. His eye for a great photograph is enhanced by his intimate awareness of the city’s people, buildings, and vibe. In North of Twelfth Street, Dempster focuses his lens on the oldest and most diverse districts. With his book, he provides a window into some of the best-known buildings in Sioux Falls and the lives of those who live and work in these neighborhoods. Gary D. Olson places Dempster’s stunning images in context with an essay on the area’s historical foundations.

  “Tom Dempster has created a superb reference to Sioux Falls, and this Honorable Mention recognizes the value of his efforts,” said Jay D. Vogt, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society. Two other SDSHS Press books—Waiting for Coyote’s Call by Jerry Wilson and A Marvelous Hundred Square Miles by Suzanne Barta Julin—have also been finalists for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards.

Dempster, who lives in Sioux Falls, served as a Minnehaha County commissioner for nine years and in the South Dakota State Senate from 2001 to 2010. His photography is found in museums and private collections throughout the region.

Olson is a former academic dean and professor of history at Augustana College in Sioux Falls.

North of Twelfth Street: The Changing Face of Sioux Falls Neighborhoods is available for $34.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most bookstores or ordered directly from the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. Visit or call (605) 773-6009.

See the award at






On 2 June, my husband, our cat, and I rode into town —not so much rode, as led a caravan that included a moving truck, a pick-up truck, and a couple of cars all packed with those materials that make up a home. Born and raised in Sioux Falls, I, like many young South Dakotans, had visited the state capital, but I never had the privilege of exploring the Pierre community. As the new marketing director for the South Dakota State Historical Society Press, I am pleased to say that that is changing. So far, my husband and I have ridden our bikes on the bike trail, eaten at La Minestra, walked La Framboise Island, and consumed a lot of Zesto ice cream. We have also enjoyed watching the carnival being set up on Missouri Street for Oahe Days this weekend.

While I have a long way to go before we know our way around Pierre, I have been learning about the Press’s authors, readers, publications, and, of course, current marketing strategies and practices. Familiarizing myself with the Pioneer Girl Project, the upcoming conference season, and getting to know the spectacular people that make up the Press and the South Dakota State Historical Society has been a great introduction into the community.

These past few weeks have gone by in a whirl, but I look forward to the work and fun times ahead. Leave me a suggestion in the comment section of this blog about any new marketing directions you might want the Press to consider. Also, please visit the page links below to stay up-to-date on what the Press is working on.



Twitter, @SDSHSPress


The Pioneer Girl Project,

The SDSHSP Blog,

A Matter of Timing

In 2012, the South Dakota State Historical Society Press announced that it would publish Laura Ingalls Wilder’s previously unpublished autobiography, Pioneer Girl, in the summer of 2013.

Since that time, the Press has worked hard to keep its interested followers up to date with each step in the process. We knew that work on this book would be involved and deep, but we were unaware exactly how involved and how deep we, and principal editor/annotator Pamela Smith Hill, would find ourselves as the project progressed.

Time and again during the researching, writing, and editing of this book, we have found ourselves making new discoveries about Wilder and her early work. We have constantly been surprised at where we ended up when research led us in unexpected directions. Each twist and turn has been exciting, but unfortunately, it has also been time consuming.

So, it is with great regret that the Press is forced to announce a delay in the publication of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Edition. At this time, we are working hard to expedite the process. However, we believe that all of our books deserve the highest possible level of research, writing, and production. With this in mind, we will strive for the earliest possible release date but will not shortchange the standards by which we have made our reputation.

The South Dakota State Historical Society Press thanks all those who have shown interest in Pioneer Girl. We will continue to update our progress on the book’s website,, and we will be announcing a revised publication date as soon as we can.

Nancy Tystad Koupal


Paper or plastic—I mean cloth?

Two of the South Dakota State Historical Society Press’s most popular titles about the cowboy culture of South Dakota and the Black Hills Gold Rush will soon be released in paperback.

Cowboy Life: The Letters of George Philip will be available in paperback in March of 2013 for $17.95. Illustrated by Mick B. Harrison and edited by Cathie Draine, this entertaining collection won a 2008 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. “Within the large body of autobiographies, letters, and memoirs of cowboy life, George Philip’s recollections rank among the best,” Richard W. Slatta writes in the afterword.

Ho! For the Black Hills

Choices, choices…

Ho! For the Black Hills: Captain Jack Crawford Reports the Gold Rush and Great Sioux War will also be available in paperback in April of 2013 for $18.95. Award-winning historian Paul L. Hedren has compiled these little-known reports to the Omaha Bee, writing an introduction and essays that place the correspondence in the greater context of the Black Hills Gold Rush and the Great Sioux War.

Both books may be pre-ordered on-line or by calling the Press at 605-773-6009.