Incredible Gladys Pyle Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

MA 020

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Incredible Gladys Pyle Collection


  • 1918-1987 (Accumulation)


0.42 linear feet (1 document case)

Name of creator


Biographical history

Gladys Pyle (October 4, 1890 – March 14, 1989) was a South Dakota politician and the first woman elected to the United States Senate without having previously been appointed to her position; she was also the first female senator to serve as a Republican and the first female senator from South Dakota. She was also the first female senator never to marry. / She was born to John and Mamie (Shields) Pyle and graduated from Huron College in 1911. She taught in the public high schools at Miller, Wessington, and Huron from 1912-1918. In 1923 she became first woman member of the State House of Representatives, serving from 1923-1927. Pyle then served as Secretary of State of South Dakota from 1927–1931 and ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for governor in 1930, garnering nearly a third of the vote in the primary but losing after seven recounts of the votes. She was a member of the State securities commission from 1931-1933. She engaged in the life insurance business in private life. / Gladys, her mother Mamie, and two sisters were very involved in the Women's Suffrage movement and frequently hosted meetings of the local chapter in their house. / On November 8, 1938 she was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Peter Norbeck. She defeated Tom Berry, a former Democratic Governor of South Dakota. She served from November 9, 1938, to January 3, 1939. / In 1981, Jeanette Kinyon and Jean Walz began to gather research for a biography of Gladys Pyle, a prominent woman in South Dakota politics. They interviewed Miss Pyle and researched books, manuscripts, letters, news stories, editorials, and other interviews. This collection is a small representation of the research gathered for this project.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Name of creator

Biographical history

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

"The Incredible Gladys Pyle" Collection consists of clippings, correspondence, financial records, manuscripts, research, transcripts and audio cassettes.

The clippings include advertisements for the published book and clippings of Gladys Pyle on her 96th birthday. The correspondence includes letters on the publication of the book and letters from Gladys Pyle noting corrections for the book. Included is a handwritten letter from Governor Sigurd Anderson praising Gladys Pyle and her contributions to South Dakota politics.

The financial records are minimal and include itemized lists of expenses. There are two manuscripts for the book, one is with the published title "The Incredible Gladys Pyle", and the other with an alternative title "Gladys Pyle: Always a Pioneer". The transcripts appear to accompany only one set of audiocassettes. Included with the transcripts are notebooks with interview questions for Miss Pyle.

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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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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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Related archival materials

The incredible Gladys Pyle, by Jeanette Kinyon and Jean Walz0
Vermillion, S.D. : Dakota Press, 1985.
Call number: E656.P9 K56 1985

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Alternative identifier(s)




MA 20

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