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Clay County, South Dakota, Schools records

Identifier: MS-037

Content Description

The collection is comprised of seven series: Correspondence, Ledger Books, Manuscripts, Photographs, Printed Materials, Typescripts, and Ephemera.

The Correspondence series contains letters to and from several Clay County superintendents such as E.E. Collins, Charles Kahl, Alice Cope, and Elvira Bliss. The letters concern school district business.

The Ledger Books series contains a superintendent book containing school accounts, statistics on school districts and officer information, a land book describing school district boundaries, and the minutes from the Clay County Teachers Association. Teacher’s register, teacher’s reports, and teacher’s term reports are restricted due to FERPA.

The Manuscripts series consists of four items: a notebook pertaining to the sale and description of school lands, two notebooks containing notes about rural students’ physical education and rules to playground games, and essays detailing the history of Meckling, SD.

The Photograph series contains eighth grade graduation pictures from 1896-1969. Also included in this series are photos of the Young Citizens League (YCL) candle lighting ceremonies and group photos of the annual state convention held in Pierre. The activity pictures contain photos of groups of children in costumes, Clay County School floats from 1954-1955 and a several schoolroom photos.

The Printed Materials series has many sub-series: booklets, building contracts, census, certificates, circulars, financial records, legal papers, miscellaneous, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, posters, publications regarding the Blind, school census, school insurance policies, teacher’s contracts, teacher’s register, teacher’s reports, teacher’s salary, teacher’s term reports, and textbook inventories. The booklets cover school related topics. The certificates sub-series includes certificates from Save the Children Federation, The United States Treasury and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Group. Also included are blank Clay County diplomas and teaching certificates. The Circulars are memoranda sent by the state to local school officials, relating to early education policy in South Dakota, which are organized chronologically. The Miscellaneous sub-series contains educational materials and several programs for events. The newspaper clippings cover the history and issues of Clay County Schools. The pamphlets and posters contain materials that relate to YCL. The publications regarding the Blind contain several publications about Seeing Eye dogs and helping the blind become self-sufficient. Also included is a Braille copy of the Christian Record. Teacher’s register, teacher’s reports, and teacher’s term reports are restricted due to FERPA.

The Typescripts series includes contest winners of spelling and track and field days, YCL materials, county essays from two students, and Superintendent reports.

The Ephemera series includes school ribbons from spelling contests, the track and field day, and YCL convention. Also included are a card, a student drawing, an embossing stamp for the clay county Superintendent and a copper etching letterpress printing block of the old school house. Oversize materials have been migrated into the above series. Many of the series can be found in oversize boxes in their entirety, while some series are split between oversized boxes and the main collection.


  • Creation: 1862 - 1971


Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains some restricted material. Teacher's registers, teacher's reports, and teacher's term reports are restricted because they contain grades and attendence records, which violate FERPA.

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

The Clay County, South Dakota, Public Schools were organized in 1866, and by 1879 there were fifty-four districts. Franklin Taylor was appointed as the first Superintendent. In 1877, Vermillion, SD established its own independent school district. Because they had fewer community resources and less financial support than schools located in towns or cities, rural schools could not keep up with the changes in curriculum. Consolidation was proposed to alleviate the problem.

The plan for school consolidation was proposed as early as 1900, but it was not until 1951 that a school reorganization measure was enacted by the South Dakota legislature. This measure left wide latitude for the local school boards to determine when and how reorganization or consolidation should be put into action. Clay County did not act on the issue until 1961. By that time, enrollment in rural school districts had declined and some schools had already closed. A state referendum for compulsory reorganization was placed on the ballot and passed in1968. Most rural schools were closed in 1969, and all were closed by 1971. The closed rural school districts were consolidated with the surrounding school districts of Beresford, Irene, Gayville – Volin, Wakonda, and Vermillion.


5 Linear Feet (one record carton, 3 oversize boxes, and 5 individually wrapped ledgers)

Language of Materials



The Clay County, South Dakota, School records primarily contains records from its rural school districts.


The collection is comprised of seven series: Correspondence, Ledger Books, Manuscripts, Photographs, Printed Materials, Typescripts, and Ephemera.

Related Materials

Country School Legacy, Richardson Collection, Special Collections, University of South Dakota.

Young Citizens League, Richardson Collection, Special Collections, University of South Dakota.

Clay County, South Dakota, Schools records
Anne Hinseth
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository