Skip to main content

August Peterson papers

Identifier: MS-124

Content Description

The Collection consists of seven series: Correspondence, Diaries, Photographs, Printed Materials, Subject Files, Typescripts, and Ephemera. The majority of Correspondence consists of letters concerning the writing and publication of Peterson’s book History of the Swedes. There is also correspondence regarding the campaign of William Jennings Bryan. Peterson’s Diaries span from 1926-1949 and concern daily life in Clay County. Peterson kept track of the births, deaths, and marriages of his friends and neighbors. These records are documented in the back of the diaries. Herbert Schell used Peterson’s Diaries as a primary source for his book History of Clay County. Schell’s notes are included in this series. The Photograph series contains two copies of the photograph of Clay County South Dakota indicating the area of about 37500 acres and the names of the 235 Swedish Pioneers who made settlement and obtained patents from US. This photograph is printed in Herbert Schell’s History of Clay County. Also included is one panoramic photograph of a large unidentified group of people in the Richardson Collection oversize drawer. The Printed Materials contains two Norwegian publications: Folkebladet, which includes biography of W. M. Hagen, August Peterson’s brother, on page 636, and Luthersk Ageblad. Also included are various news clippings. The most notable news clippings are a series of articles that Peterson wrote entitled The War and Reasons for the War. The Subject Files series contains materials concerning Reverend Daniel Brown, Dalesburg Band, Dalesburg Churches, Eastern South Dakota Cemetery records, Swedish Pioneer and Historical Society and Clay County Townships. Also included are translations of letters written by Harvey Gunderson who fought in the Civil War. The letters were originally written in Norwegian and Peterson translated them. Only the translated copies are available here; the originals are not included in this collection. The Typescripts series contain essays written by August Peterson and various individuals. They cover a range of subjects including world and local history, poems, folk tales, biographies and news items. Peterson often retyped interesting articles from published materials. He also wrote about the local history. A typescript copy of his Swedish Settlers in Clay County, South Dakota is also available. The Tragedy at Risvaag is a fictional story based on autobiographical experiences. The Ephemera series consists of three certificates given to August Peterson by American Swedish Historical Museum, National Geographic and Territorial Pioneers of South Dakota.


  • 1926 - 1949


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research without restrictions. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives and Special Collections prior to visiting. Advance notice may be needed to retrieve items for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers must obtain a signed Permission to Publish Form if they wish to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information from published and unpublished works held by ASC. Permission to reproduce, broadcast, or otherwise disseminate information materials from ASC does not constitute permission from the holder of copyright or literary rights. The researcher is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder to publish or reproduce content from materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

August Peterson was born September 23, 1869 in Namdalen, Norway to Peter and Ingeborg Anna Hagen. Peterson’s parents died when he was a young man and his family was split up to live with friends and relatives. Before leaving Norway, Peterson was an apprentice painter. In the fall of 1888, he immigrated to America and settled at Dalesburg, in Clay County, Dakota Territory.

Peterson married Anna E. Edlund on Oct. 25, 1893 and they had four children: Helga, Florence, Emma, and James. Peterson was very interested in the history of the Swedish pioneers and kept detailed records on his neighbors. His interest in the settlers led to the publication of his book History of the Swedes who settled in Clay County, South Dakota, and their biographies. He was also interested in world affairs and wrote and translated articles about those subjects. August Peterson died January 11, 1950.


2.5 Linear Feet (2 record cartons and 2 document boxes)

Language of Materials



These materials were collected by August Peterson, local historian and author. Much of the material is related to his book: History of the Swedes who settled in Clay County, South Dakota and their biographies.


The Collection consists of seven series: Correspondence, Diaries, Photographs, Printed Materials, Subject Files, Typescripts, and Ephemera.
August Peterson papers
Anne Hinseth and Doris Peterson
2002 August and 2007 March update
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository