Transitioning

08 July 2020

I began my career as the editor of South Dakota History and South Dakota Historical Collections in 1979, making it my mission to raise the standards of scholarship and production of the South Dakota State Historical Society’s publications. In 1997, with the help of Society Director Jay D. Vogt and the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, I founded the South Dakota Historical Society (SDHS) Press, grounding it in the standards and practices of academic publishing and in production values comparable to national presses. In 2018, the SDHS Press became an affiliate member of the Association of University Presses. The Press is now financially stable and achieving the highest academic and production standards.

In 2010, I also became director of a research and publishing initiative called the Pioneer Girl Project that is dedicated to studying the manuscripts and life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Project has published two books: the highly acclaimed Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography (2014), edited by Pamela Smith Hill, and Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder (2017). The Project has two additional books under contract that continue to explore Wilder’s manuscripts, but the work on those volumes has been slow because of the other duties and responsibilities that the director of the office and Press must attend to.

With the Press doing well and the completion of our three-book woman suffrage initiative, it seemed like the right time for me to resign my position as director of Research and Publishing and SDHS Press and devote myself to completing the Pioneer Girl Project books, descriptions of which can be found at pioneergirlproject.org, “Past and Future Projects.” I will also continue to work with the Press’s highly successful children’s books.

My long-time colleague and associate editor, Jeanne K. Ode, is acting director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press and with the help of her excellent staff will be available to answer any and all questions you have during this transition time.

I loved my job and look forward to my continuing work on the Pioneer Girl Project. Thank all of you for your support of SDHS Press through the years.

Nancy Tystad Koupal


In the image above, from 1984, Nancy Tystad Koupal, then editor of South Dakota History, accepts the Ray A. Billington Award for excellence in historical publishing for the second year in a row. With Koupal are Fred Lillibridge, director of the Division of Cultural Affairs, and Dayton Canaday, director of the South Dakota State Historical Society.