Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

July 7, 2014

Coolidge in the Black Hills Exhibit Opens July 11th

President Calvin Coolidge chose to spend the summer in the Black Hills during a pivotal year in the history of the United States and South Dakota. Against the backdrop of the roaring twenties on Wall Street, a farm crisis brewed in the Midwest with bank failures that foreshadowed the Great Depression. During his time in the Hills, Coolidge resided in the State Game Lodge, entertained dignitaries from around the world, fished for trout, attended rodeos and became the first American president to visit an Indian reservation.

The Journey Museum, the Rapid City Public Library and the Black Hills Knowledge Network have launched a collaborative effort to document and interpret the Coolidge Summer of 1927. On July 11, 2014, this ongoing project will kick off with a lobby exhibit at the Journey Museum. On the same time, the Black Hills Knowledge Network has opened a permanent, online exhibition entitled: "1927: Calvin Coolidge and the Summer White House," which offers photographs, documents, and texts of Coolidge's speeches during his summer in the Hills.

A temporary mini-exhibit on President Calvin Coolidge's White House in the Black HIlls at the Journey Museum kicks off with a reception on Friday, July 11 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The mini exhibit will be in the museum’s lobby and will be in place until September 1. 

“Calvin Coolidge’s summer in the Black Hills played a critical role in shaping the tourism industry in this region,” says historian Dr. Eric John Abrahamson, project director for the Black Hills Knowledge Network. “We intend to offer a rich variety of photos, documents, and text to help visitors, students and area residents understand the legacy of the Coolidge summer.”

According to Abrahamson, the Black Hills Knowledge Network site will feature bios of Calvin and Grace Coolidge, background on the president’s famous announcement that he would not run for reelection, an overview of the Coolidge’s contribution to the development of tourism in the region—including Mount Rushmore—and information on Coolidge’s visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, including the text of his speech.

Historians Amy Davis and Eric Zimmer, working with Abrahamson and the Rapid City Public Library’s Samantha Slocum and other staff members developed the online exhibition, which is intended to the be first in a series of online history exhibits offered by the Rapid City Public Library and the Black Hills Knowledge Network. 

The “Coolidge in the Black Hills” exhibit is a collaborative effort of the Journey Museum, the Minnilusa Pioneer Museum, the Rapid City Public Library and Black Hills Knowledge Network.

Many of the Coolidge photos in the online exhibit can also be found in the Black Hills Knowledge Network archive of historical documents and photos.

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