Backstage Pass to North Dakota History

This blog takes you behind the scenes of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Get a glimpse at a day-in-the-life of the staff, volunteers, and partners who make it all possible. Discover what it takes to preserve North Dakota's natural and cultural history. We encourage dialogue, questions, and comments!

Melissa Thompson's blog

Collecting Donations to Tell North Dakota’s Story: Voting Machines, Soccer Uniform, and Wool Sweater

The State Historical Society accepts about one hundred donations per year into our museum collection. Each donation can consist of one item up to several hundred items. We are stewards of the collection on behalf of the people of North Dakota, so we would like to hear from you. What do you think we should have in our collection? What sorts of objects define North Dakota? Your input matters for our future collecting. Click here to fill out our survey: bit.ly/proactivecollecting.

We will use the public responses to better guide our collecting strategy for the future. We will also use the data to determine how much additional storage space we will need to continue collecting the history of North Dakota.

We collect a myriad of different objects from all time periods. Our museum collections committee always looks for a story behind the objects, for that is what sets one object apart from another. Here are a few collections that recently arrived at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.

The Office of the Secretary of State donated voting machines that were being replaced by newer models. The M100 and AutoMARK were purchased using federal, state, and county funds following the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). HAVA was passed following the hanging chad fiasco in Florida during the 2000 General Election and was meant to modernize our nations voting systems. Ninety-five percent of the purchase was paid for with federal funds, 2.5% with state funds, and 2.5% with county funds.

ballot device

AutoMARK assistive ballot marking device. Acc #2019.00058

The M-100 was implemented in approximately half of the counties in 2004. M-100 implementation was completed in all 53 counties for the 2006 election. AutoMARK implementation was completed during the 2006 election. The M-100 and AutoMARK were available at every polling place in the state for every statewide election through the 2018 General Election. Counties also used this equipment for local special elections.

ballot boxes

Ballot boxes for the M-100 optical scan and Optech III-P Eagle. Acc #2019.00058

The Optech III-P Eagle (the tan machine below) was used in several counties prior to the adoption of the statewide voting system. This particular machine comes from LaMoure County.

ballot tabulator

The Optech III-P Eagle ballot tabulator. Acc #2019.00058

The soccer uniform was worn by four-year-old Hannah while playing on the pre-K team Orange Pumpkins in the fall of 2018. Although she and her parents live in Bismarck, Hannah had a friend who played soccer in Mandan, so Hannah’s parents signed her up for Mandan’s recreational soccer team.

collage of soccer clothing and soccer player

A: The uniform consists of the orange Mandan soccer team shirt, a pair of athletic shorts, shin guards, pink soccer socks, and soccer cleats. Acc # 2019.00066; B: Hannah playing a game at the Dakota Community Bank and Trust soccer fields in Mandan, ND.; C: Hannah posing for a photo in her uniform.

Harvey Jaeger donated a wool sweater made by his grandmother, Anna Jaeger, for his father, Hugo Jaeger. It was made by Anna in about 1930. Anna raised the sheep, sheered the wool, spun and dyed the yarn, and knit the sweater.

vintage soccer sweater

The sweater is a brown wool, button down cardigan, with multiple knit patterns. Acc #2019.00054

Anna (Birkmeier) Jaeger was born in Germany, August 15, 1882, and emigrated to the United States in 1885, settling south of Hebron. She married Fred Jaeger in 1901 and homesteaded south of Zap. Hugo Jaeger was third oldest of 11 siblings, Anna died in 1968.

Hugo Jaeger (1904-1946) married Pauline Jacober (1908-2013) in 1929 and lived in a three- room house on the family farm for nine years. Then they moved to Zap where Hugo worked in the coal mine. They moved to Bismarck in 1942.


***Due to the temporary closing of our sites for COVID-19 precautions, we currently will not be accepting the donation items until further notice. If you have something you would like to donate, please still fill out our potential acquisition questionnaire, which can be found at https://www.history.nd.gov/data/padq_emailform.html. This is the first step to start to make a donation. We will continue to respond to your requests to make donations.

Recent Military Acquisition Honors Veterans

In honor of Veterans Day, I decided to highlight a military recent acquisition to the museum collection.

Radar bomb scoring sites were developed during World War II, by the Army Airforce Tactical Center, to more accurately bomb at night and in poor weather. The Strategic Air Command, established in 1946, controlled most of the US nuclear weapons until after the Cold War. The SAC supervised these radar bomb scoring sites to improve accuracy through training and practice. The 1st Radar Bomb Scoring Group’s mission was to provide the best training, which included simulated unguided bomb drops, and comprehensive evaluation of Strategic Air Command’s aircrews.

Staff and equipment for the Radar Bomb Scoring site (RBS), located off 43rd Street in north Bismarck, arrived from Marrakesh Africa in 1958. The building site was designated Detachment 10 and later redesignated as Detachment 14. A radio antenna is now located near the former site. An average of 80 to 90 air force personnel occupied the site at a time. They scored the bombing accuracy and countermeasure capability of the B-52 bombers out of Minot AFB and the B-58s from Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota.

vintage photo of a road sign that says "Detachment 14 Strategic Training Range"

Road sign to Detachment 14 in north Bismarck for an open house in September 1981.

Aerial view of site

Aerial view of Detachment 14 taken in the 1970s.

John Ringland made the radar site model in April 1975 to honor Col. Alvin E. Prothero upon his retirement from the US Air Force. Prothero was commander of 1 Combat Evaluation Group (1CEVG) from July 1, 1971, to April 25, 1975. Ringland was stationed at 1CEVG headquarters in Barksdale AFB in Louisiana from 1966 to 1975. Col. Prothero wanted the radar site model to remain at the 1CEVG headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base for display in the office as a visual example of a radar site. Eventually it was displayed at the Barksdale Air Force Museum and then returned to 1CEVG for display before being given back to Ringland.

radar site model case

close up of model radar site case

2019.00011 Model of a bomber radar scoring site, similar to that of Detachment 14 located in Bismarck. When plugged in, the plane rotates above the building and the radar rotates to track the plane. The motors running the plane and radar were removed from a plotting board used to track B-52s at Barksdale AFB. It is 13inches high (not including the legs), 24 inches deep, and 31 inches wide.

Our donor, John Ringland, was stationed at the Bismarck Radar Bomb Scoring (RBS) site three times throughout his Air Force career of 23 years. Ringland’s first assignment to the Bismarck RBS was in May 1965. He returned from 1975 to 1980, and again from 1983 to 1986, when the Bismarck site closed and moved to Forsyth, Montana. Ringland retired from the Air Force as a senior master sergeant in 1987.

blue military suit with insignia

2019.00048. John Ringland donated his Air Force uniform including the jacket, shirt, tie, pants, cap, socks, and shoes.

Thank you to those who served.