New Hugh Glass Biography Coming in May from State Historical Society

Mclaird - Hugh Glass (CI)PIERRE, S.D.—This spring, readers will be able to learn the true story behind frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is currently portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the Hollywood blockbuster “The Revenant.” As Oscar buzz continues to mount for the movie, the South Dakota State Historical Society is getting ready to release “Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor”by James D. McLaird in May.


The most famous grizzly bear attack in the history of the American West took place in 1823 and left Glass struggling for life. Setting out on a journey of revenge and forgiveness, he eventually crawled 200 miles across the plains back to civilization. The story of Hugh Glass has provided fertile ground for articles, books and film, but the real man remains much a mystery.


“Hugh Glass continues to be a larger-than-life character who occupies a significant place in American folklore,” says Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press. “However, little has been done to create an accurate historical biography that looks at the other narratives written about him.”


McLaird, a Mitchell historian, traces the few existing threads of Glass’ life and delves into the role of popular history in making a legend. He also looks at the grizzly bear itself, examining popular sentiments towards the creature that led to its near extinction.


“Had it not been for a chance encounter with a grizzly bear along the Grand River in what is now northwestern South Dakota,” says McLaird, “Hugh Glass would barely warrant a passing note in fur trade history. That fact made researching him a challenge.”


McLaird is professor emeritus of history at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. He is the author of the second South Dakota Biography Series book “Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane: Deadwood Legends” and numerous articles on the Black Hills and American West. 


“Hugh Glass: Grizzly Survivor”is the latest addition to the South Dakota Biography Series published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press. The book will be available in May for $14.95, plus shipping and tax. It can be preordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press at or by calling (605) 773-6009. Follow the South Dakota Historical Society Press on Facebook (SDHS Press) and Twitter (@sdhspress) for more information.




Editor’s Note:Email for publicity information and to contact the author.


About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.


Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt visit Prairie Pages for Love Letters from Mount Rushmore

MRM 1I have the pleasure of working with a variety of individuals on many projects. Not often, however, do I get to meet characters like the Mount Rushmore Mascots. With the South Dakota Historical Society Press book Love Letters from Mount Rushmore: The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History, I had my chance!MRM 2

Earlier this week the mascots and I visited Prairie Pages Bookseller, the local bookstore in Pierre, South Dakota, so the guys could pick up the latest book from the Press. We had a grand time entertaining the gathering crowds and telling them about this fascinating story. Written by Richard Cerasani, Love Letters from Mount Rushmore uses photographs, letters, and artifacts to detail the previously untold experiences of his father, Arthur Cerasani, who worked on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 1940.

Eager to begin reading, the “presidents” rushed to the cash register and then started their journey down the street to a local coffee shop, Pierre 347, for a comfortable spot to read. Of course, before they left the bookstore, they had to stop and show a young patron some of the never-before-seen MRM 4photographs of Arthur Cerasani surveying the mountain.

Sipping on their lattes and hot cocoa, the presidential mascots learned that Cerasani was a sculptor and artist from New York. With his family over fifteen hundred miles away, he dealt with isolation, spring blizzards, summer heat, and the unpredictable moods and fortunes of master MRM 5sculptor Gutzon Borglum. Over this vast distance, he and his wife, Mary, stayed connected through letters—their daily correspondence revealing the trials of carving sixty-foot heads on a mountain top.MRM 6


In the end, the Lincoln, Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Washington mascots gave a resounding thumbs-up to the latest edition about their stone counterparts. Thank you to all of the people and businesses who made it such a fun day!


Visit your local bookstore today to pick up Love Letters from Mount Rushmore, by Richard Cerasani. Orders can also be placed online at or by calling (605) 773-6009. View Cerasani’s website at for more news about the book!


—Jennifer McIntyre, Marketing Director


Cerasani - Love Letters from Mt Rush (CI)
Love Letters from Mount Rushmore

The Story of a Marriage, a Monument, and a Moment in History

By Richard Cerasani

$29.95, hardcover


Coming Release – Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey

The South Dakota State Historical Society Press announces the coming release of Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey, by Darcy Lipp-Acord, with a forward by Linda M. Hasselstrom.


At a time when values of frugality, home, family, and care of the land seem increasingly absent, one woman looks to her past to create a life of significance for her family. Her search takes her back to the prairie of her grandmothers, who survived personal hardships and lived off what the land provided. Lipp-Acord mourns the loss of one child and celebrates the birth of others, all while balancing her own desire to put down roots with her husband’s life as a ranch hand.  Written over ten years, these essays compose a picture of endurance and grace as the author addresses her history and finds her way home.

The granddaughter of German-Russian immigrants, Darcy Lipp-Acord grew up in Timber Lake, South Dakota, on a farm worked by three generations of her family. She currently lives on a ranch with her husband, Shawn, and their six children near the Montana-Wyoming border. She won the Wyoming Arts Council’s Frank Nelson Doubleday Award for women writers, and her essays have appeared in several anthologies including Woven on the Wind.

“[Darcy] Lipp-Acord is one woman, but she tells a dozen stories, her ancestors’ voices mingling with her own: the farmers’ daughter, the Catholic woman, the wife, the mother, the artist. . . . Circling Back Home reflects the life of a ranch woman in all its prismatic variety.”   —Linda M. Hasselstrom, founder of the Windbreak House Writing Retreats.

Circling Back Home: A Plainswoman’s Journey will be released August, 2013, for $16.95.

Get your pre-order in today by emailing or calling (605) 773-6009.

Search our online catalog and receive 10% off of another Press publication with your pre-order of Circling Back Home.

Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota receives the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award ™ from the Independent Book Publishers Association

Book with StickerThe 2013 Benjamin Franklin Gold Award in Cover Design –Small Format was presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association to the South Dakota State Historical Society Press for Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota by Fraser Harrison.

Gold awards are given to the best publishers in specific categories of the Benjamin Franklin Awards™.  The Independent Book Publishers Association recognizes excellence and innovation in print publishing with these awards, named after America’s most cherished publisher/printer.

This Gold Award represents the first received by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. In 2008, the Press title Cowboy Life: The Letters of George Philip, edited by Cathie Draine, was a Benjamin Franklin Silver Award winner for the Autobiography/Biography/Memoirs category.

Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota is a travel memoir written from the perspective of Englishman Fraser Harrison who grew up with the tales of the old West. Harrison visits well-known locations and sites less-traveled in the state, giving detailed insight into what makes these locations important to South Dakotans and a unique experience for those who visit South Dakota.

“Fraser Harrison is among the best truth-tellers. He has written a thoughtful, tender, and funny guide, a book that is an arresting journey at the center of a nation and goes deep into the human heart.” —Tim Dee, Chief Producer, BBC Radio

Visit the Press’s Tumblr blog to see our award certificate,

To see other award finalists and categories, please visit the IBPA website,

Ladies First

A year ago we published First Lady Inaugural Gowns, a small chapbook highlighting the lives of each of South Dakota’s first ladies and the gown they wore to their husband’s inauguration. Ladies first is an old tradition, but we thought it might be appropriate to also draw some attention to the men behind those ladies: the governors of South Dakota.

The title page from the forthcoming chapbook, The Governors' Portraits.

The title page from the forthcoming chapbook, The Governors’ Portraits.

In the next week or so, we’ll be publishing our third chapbook, this one entitled, The Governors’ Portraits. Dan Brosz, Curator of Collections at the Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society, penned a short biography of each of the state’s governors to accompany a photograph of that governor’s portrait that hangs on the walls of the State Capitol in Pierre.

It is tradition that a leaving governor sits for his portrait and leaves the painting so that there is a reminder to all of those who served their state and fellow South Dakotans. Brosz’s short biographies provide the highlights of that governor’s life, but they also shine a little light on the history of the time in which that governor served. It is the nature of a biography that it will indicate to a greater or lesser degree the nature of a particular era because that person, particularly a governor, will most likely be a barometer of the time itself.

Chapbooks are, in their own way, a reflection of history as well. They were first published about five hundred years ago in England and gained their name from the Chapmen who sold them on street corners. Often, chapbooks contained treaties or commentaries on current events, but over time they passed out of favor. In the last twenty years or so, however, there has been a small revival in the popularity of this small, often elegant, definitely effective form of book publishing. We’ve done a few now, and we find that they serve best as an inexpensive method of delivering interesting tidbits of information to our audience.

Favorite Lines, Part II

The Badlands, courtesy,

The Badlands, courtesy,

A couple weeks ago, here at the SDSHS Press, we decided to share a favorite line from one of the books we published in 2012. I’m late.

How do I come up with one line? I have lots of favorite parts of the books we publish. The illustrations in Greet the Dawn are top-notch, and I enjoy looking at them over and over again, . . . but I don’t think illustrations count as our favorite “line!” I’m not from Sioux Falls, but North of Twelfth Street introduced me to the people and places that make up the historic districts of the city, and it did an excellent job of showing me the character of Sioux Falls. Again, that’s not really a line, though.

While I can’t choose a single, favorite line, I do have a favorite concept. I have read one part of Infinite West several times over: the Cedar Pass Lodge episode of the Badlands chapter. I love it when an author starts out making me laugh and ends up making me think. I like the way Fraser Harrison starts with a couple of humorous events—I readily identified with the poor fellow (or should I say “chap”) who pulled up thinking he was meant to stay at the lodge that night, and then realized he had arrived a week ahead of schedule. And there probably is barely a person alive who can’t identify with Harrison when he locked his whole life inside his cabin while he stood outside. Although, I can top his dilemma because in my own “lockout” my ten-month old baby remained inside my car, blissfully sitting in her seat staring at me through the window and giggling because she thought I was playing “peek-a-boo” with her.

The second concept is, I guess, an example of why I really like this book. The author is looking at the Badlands of South Dakota and comparing them to the human condition of aging—if he had just stuck to the Badlands, as majestic and wild-looking as they are, I would have found myself losing interest after a few paragraphs. But he intertwines the aging landscape with observations of his own age and aging—“My hair, once curly and dark, now resembles porridge.” Thanks to beauticians and hair-dye, I will never have to identify with that particular line! Harrison provides insights into his thoughts about aging and the natural course of feelings and emotions throughout this chapter. He reminds me that every day given is one that should be relished, and that we should grow and learn, not shrink and become self-absorbed. While not the first time I’ve “learned” this lesson, Harrison did an excellent job of giving a great lesson a new twist. I will look at aging, and the Badlands next time I visit them, in a different light thanks to his writing.

So, I choose not to provide one favorite line—it doesn’t do justice to my enjoyment of our 2012 books. Instead, I choose the fact that I learned from Fraser Harrison and identified with his communal human experiences; good reasons to choose a chapter rather than a sentence, if you ask me!


Favorite Lines

Wrong kind of lines?

Wrong kind of lines?

As we publish each book we become quite familiar with the words, sentences, and paragraphs that make each one what it is. Every now and then something, a line, a phrase, in a book will stand out to one or other of us. The particular flow or sentiment or history will resonate. Sitting in the office the other day, we started talking about just that idea, so here are a few examples of our favorite sentences or passages from books the SDSHS Press published in 2012.

Rodger: “Perhaps they should have used espontoons.”—Infinite West: Travels in South Dakota

It’s such a humorous, silly, incongruous, delightful thing to end a chapter with, especially when coupled with the image of disappointed prairie dog hunters. And let’s be honest—the word espontoon is itself fun to read or say. Those who do not know what an espontoon is, and are thus unable to gauge its serviceability as a weapon for the hunting of prairie dogs, are referred to Fraser Harrison’s insightful and entertaining chapter on Lewis and Clark.

Carol: “Completed in October 1890, the Old Minnehaha County Courthouse housed county offices until December 1962, when a new building was finished. Both renovation and demolition of the old building would be expensive, and each possibility had its advocates. While the debate went on, commissioners allowed carpenter Carl Heinson to live in the courthouse. Heinson used peanut butter to keep his false teeth in place, and the courthouse filled up with empty peanut butter jars and his other belongings. He was also a nudist, startling visitors who knocked at his door. Although he died before final plans were made, Heinson advocated the idea that the old courthouse should become a museum. Today the Old Courthouse Museum contains exhibits on the region’s history.”—North of Twelfth Street: The Changing Face of Sioux Falls Neighborhoods

I liked the humor in this quote, but it also points out that although someone may not live the conventional or widely accepted lifestyle, we should not discount their ideas—clearly Mr. Heinson had the right idea: renovating the building to serve as a museum while preserving this historic landmark.

Martyn: “Winds whisper, winds blow. Storms come and storms go.”—Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way

These lines are just so evocative of South Dakota, although it isn’t simply the imagery that the words conjure up in my mind that makes me appreciate these two sentences. Anyone who has experienced the winds on the prairie and the speed with which storms brew on the horizon will also enjoy S. D. Nelson’s beautiful illustration—the actual, rather than the imagined, imagery, if you like.