David Richards Collection on N.E. Hansen

Identity elements

Reference code

MA 049

Name and location of repository

Level of description



David Richards Collection on N.E. Hansen


  • 1884-2000 (Accumulation)


1.89 linear feet (4 document cases, 1 small document case)

  • Photographs

Name of creator

Biographical history

David Richards grew up on a ranch on the Belle Fourche River about 20 east of Sturgis, South Dakota in the 1930's. He attended a one room rural school. In 1946, Richards enrolled at South Dakota State College and graduated in 1950. / During his career as a student at South Dakota State College, Richards worked on a research project with Ames, Iowa and the University of Minnesota to discover the best chemical to dwarf lawn grass. And during his senior years, he completed a research project on budding and grafting evergreens. He was on the Rifle Team, president on the Presbyterian Student group, and ROTC. / A rancher in Meade County, South Dakota, Richards has been active in the Meade County Farm Bureau for over 60 years, president of the Meade County Stockgrowers, and helped form Ag Unity. In 1958, Richards was presented with the Outstanding Young Farmer awards by the Sturgis Jaycees.

Name of creator

Biographical history

On January 4, 1866, Niels Ebbesen Hansen was born to Bodil Midtgaard and Andreas Hansen on a farm near Ribe, Denmark. His mother died when he was an infant. Andreas remarried, and with his second wife had two daughters, Helene and Kristine. The Hansen's left Denmark in 1872. They lived in New York and New Jersey for three years before migrating to Des Moines, Iowa in 1876. His father worked as a painter and is noted for his murals on the ceilings and walls of the new state house building in Des Moines. / As a boy, Hansen attended schools in New York and New Jersey but completed his education in Iowa. In March 1883, Niels enrolled at Iowa State College. He graduated with a BS degree in Horticulture in 1887. In 1895, he received his master's degree from the same college. / After graduation from college, Hansen went into commercial horticulture work. He worked for a year in Atlantic, Iowa and three years in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1895, Hansen came to South Dakota and became head of the Horticultural Department of South Dakota State College. / During his career, Hansen made eight world trips as an agricultural explorer. He searched for new grasses, fruits and other plants throughout Europe and Asia, including Siberia. He brought these plants back to America to raise or crossbreed with American varieties to produce a stronger plant. He was the originator of many new fruits, among them the Hansen hybrid plums. He is credited with the discovery and introduction of hardy Cossack alfalfa, crested wheat grass and brome grass. He developed larger apricots and plums by crossing native varieties with those he brought from Asia. He also developed pears without seeds and a rose to adorn farmyards. In 1949, a monument in recognition of Dr. Hansen and his contributions was erected on the campus of South Dakota State College. / Hansen was married twice. He married his first wife, Emma Elise Pammel on November 16, 1898. They had two children, Carl Andreas and Eva (Mrs. Dave Gilkerson). Emma died December 16, 1904. Three years later, he married Dora Sophie Pammel, his first wife's sister. The Dora died September 14, 1945. / Hansen was a member of the International Jury of Horticulture at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904 and a United States delegate to the First International Congress of Genetics in London, England in 1906. He served as secretary of the South Dakota Horticultural Society for many years. Hansen was frequently referred to as "The Burbank of the Plains". He had been on the State College staff for 55 years and held the title of Professor Emeritus. Hansen died at the Brookings Hospital on October 5, 1950, after a long illness.

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Scope and content

Richards was an admirer of Dr. Hansen and often stopped to visit him in his office. After Dr. Hansen's death in 1950, David asked for and received, permission to keep a few souvenirs and then dug through the trash filling several boxes with papers of historical value.

This collection is composed writings for the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station in the form of bulletins and circulars, manuscripts for articles and publications that include Hansen's notations and corrections, correspondence with friends, colleagues, and customers interested in ordering seeds or rootstocks. Also included are catalog descriptions of plants to be included in seed catalogs, transplanting cards on which researchers will find records of planting and transplanting of plant hybrids, and research projects and reports to the Agricultural Experiment Station and material related to the South Dakota Horticultural Society.

Some items of note are collected Russian publications, seed catalogs and Seeds and Plants Imported published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which list the plants and seeds imported by Hansen. Researchers will also find some material related to Hansen's travels.

The publications and manuscripts by Hansen related to many different horticultural topics: apples, crab apples, apricots, cherries, currants, grapes, pears, plums, plums, roses, roses, alfalfa, trees, plant genetics and breeding.
Researchers will also find clippings related to Hansen and photographs.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.

Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

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Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Languages of the material

  • English

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Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


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Alternative identifier(s)




MA 49

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