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.

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:

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 This is the first step to start to make a donation. We will continue to respond to your requests to make donations.

Online Paleontology Chats

*static* Good morning, everyone. We're reporting from our home office during this time of uncertainty! This is about as behind-the-scenes as we can get right now. Each day while schools are closed, paleontology is putting together a livestream question-and-answer session for kids and families stuck at home.

What does this include? First, we pick a topic that we think is cool, and that we believe will be entertaining for kids at home. Our first three topics were mosasaurs (sea monsters), coprolites (fossil poo), and ammonites (ancient shelled squid relatives). From the responses we've had thus far, it's going over well!

Second, we do a personal refresher course on the topic—any new articles published, myths debunked, unusual facts, modern examples— to bring it together and make sure our information is as up-to-date as possible.

Third, we set up a streaming service (we're using Zoom) on a laptop, add in a webcam, and find a cool backdrop. I like to use the shelves in my office, because they're filled with odds and ends skulls, fossils, bones, toys, etc. With each session, I add or remove objects from the shelves. This gives a little something extra for kids to look for, and they spot the differences FAST.

Finally, we do the presentation! We're recording each session so it can be spliced later and added online, thus removing any potential extra voices, long pauses (thankfully few and far between), or when a young viewer decides they're bored and screen-shares Minecraft with us (oops!).

Screenshot of editing software

Editing the "ammonite" chat. You can see all the splices at the bottom where we take out long pauses or other undesirable segments to make the final video more streamlined and understandable.

We'll keep coming up with chats and streaming for as long as we can. All the paleo staff have kids at home too, so we understand the need to keep our “littles” educated and entertained. Our hopes are that these brief periods of science will help fill that niche.

This is Becky, signing off. Stay safe, wash your hands, and take care! *static*

To watch the chats live, go to our events page and click on tomorrow's event. There is a link in the description to the live feed. You need to sign up for a free Zoom account if you don't have one.