Military Science Department Records

Identity elements

Reference code

UA 006.07

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Military Science Department Records


  • 1888-2010 (Creation)


2.84 linear feet (2 records center boxes, 2 document cases)

Name of creator

Administrative history

Military instruction has always been a part of life at South Dakota State University. The Morrill Act of 1862, which established the land grant colleges, required the colleges to provide instruction in "military tactics." At South Dakota State University, formal military classes began in September 1884 under the leadership of Professor Robert F. Kerr. Lectures, recitations and regular drills formed this instruction. Until 1918, the college fulfilled the military requirements with mandatory drill work and coursework led by civilian instructors. With the passage of the National Defense Act in 1916, the Reserve Officers Training Corps, known at ROTC, came into being and replaced the less formal military training at all land grant colleges, including South Dakota State University. The headquarters of the ROTC were at the local land grant colleges, and the training curriculum was set by the War Department. The colleges were given personnel and equipment to carry out the curriculum. / General Omar Bradley was a former Professor of Military Science here at SDSU. Although he is more well known as being the commander of the largest field force in military history during World War II, and the first ever Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it was he who dubbed SDSU Army ROTC "The West Point of the Plains." This title is still used frequently and proudly by all of its members past and present. / ROTC required all underclassmen to participate in basic military training for their first two years. Selected upperclassmen were allowed to participate in advanced work on a voluntary basis. At first, training was provided in a number of different service branches. By 1942, when the DePuy Military Hall was constructed, training at the university was limited to Army and Air Force ROTC. At South Dakota State University, the Army and Air Force ROTC continued to provide compulsory training for all freshmen and sophomore men until 1969, when the Board of Regents made ROTC voluntary. Although the numbers decreased, students continued to participate in the program, and do so still. / The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) provides leadership, management, ethics, and personal confidence training to prepare cadets for responsibilities as commissioned officers in the Army National Guard, the Army Reserve, and active duty. Classroom instruction, hands-on training, and field training encompass the values and skill sets necessary for success. Opportunities abound for specialized training.

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Scope and content

This collection is composed of records of the Military Science Department, ROTC records and scrapbooks for the Pershing’s Rifles and the Pershingettes. Material consists primarily of records from the Military Science Department at South Dakota State University and includes programs, clippings, a course catalog, a scrapbook, books and artifacts. Some items of note include a file of clippings dealing with the death of Omar Bradley and registers of graduates and former cadets of the United States Military Academy from 1802-1978. Other interesting items consist of dance cards for military balls held in 1912 and 1913. The artifacts consist of two hats used by cadets around 1888 and 1927.

Material produced by the Reserve Officers' Training Corps Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC programs. Folders contain programs, newsletters, pamphlets, posters, announcements, invitations, photographs and an artifact. Topics covered include Governor's Day, awards, military balls, recruitment, and commissioning exercises. The artifact in this series is a 48-star United States flag that was used by the ROTC color guard prior to 1958. The photographs consist mainly of Army ROTC photographs of field training at various locations (Palisades State Park near Garretson, South Dakota; Oak Lake near White, South Dakota), Camp Adventure Training, awards banquets, Dining-In, Commissioning ceremonies, ROTC Days, Governor's Day, and Hobo Day parade float entries.

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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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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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Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)




UA 6.7

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