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William O. Farber papers

Identifier: MS-260

Scope and Contents

The William O. Farber papers document the life and work of William O. Farber. These papers contain personal and professional correspondence, research and work product, travel photographs, teaching material, writings, and publications. Included is personal correspondence with family members, genealogical research, and high school papers. A series of correspondence of note describes the experiences of the second world war. These include the work product of the Office of Price Administration, letters detailing the process of the draft and discharge, and the work of the Loyalty Review Board. These papers follow Farber’s professional life from his appointment to teach at USD in 1935 to documenting the growth of the Department of Government under his leadership and the fundraiser work of the Farber Fund. These papers also contain the records of time spend abroad for personal and work-related travel, such as Farber’s time in Korea organizing a school for public administration.


  • Majority of material found within 1865 - 2007

Biographical / Historical

William Ogden "Doc" Farber was born on July 4, 1910, in Geneseo, Illinois, the oldest of four sons of Charles W. and Hulda Ogden Farber. Farber graduated from Geneseo Public High School in 1928 as valedictorian. In 1932, he received a B.A. cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Northwestern University, in Chicago, Illinois. He continued on at Northwestern for another year while he earned his M.A. and distinguished himself as a Harris Scholar. In 1935, Farber completed his formal education when he received a Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Farber began his career as a professor of political science at The University of South Dakota in 1935. He accepted a chairmanship at North Dakota State University in 1936, but returned to the University the next year, where he served as chair of the Department of Government (now the Department of Political Science) until 1976. Farber created the University's Government Research Bureau and founded the South Dakota Legislative Research Council, serving as its first director. In addition, Farber served as chair of the Vermillion City Planning Commission and was a leading member of South Dakota's Constitutional Revision and Local Government Study Commissions. Notable protégés that credit his teachings as influences include Tom Brokaw, Al Neuharth, Dennis Daugaard, Dusty Johnson, and Pat O'Brien.


150 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The William O. Farber papers are arranged into 15 series. Series 1,2,3,4,5, and 7 roughly correspond with segments of Farber’s life as illustrated in his biography, Footprints on the Plains. The remaining series describe formats and subjects.

William O. Farber papers
In Progress
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the USD Archives and Special Collections Repository