UA 6.3




2.29 linear feet (1 records center box, 1 oversize box) photographs


The Department of Journalism and Mass Communications offers programs in advertising, journalism, public relations, and social media. The collection is composed mainly of publications produced by the department. Folders consist of mainly of newsletters but also contain pamphlets, programs, posters and info-sheets. Also included is the South Dakota Observer.

Historical Note

The first course in journalism at South Dakota State College was taught in 1908, 27 years after the founding of the college and at a time when journalism courses began to appear in a number of Midwestern state universities. A school of printing began in 1919, and in 1924 Journalism Professor Charles D. Byrne, who was later the Chancellor of Higher Education for Oregon, moved to combine the work in journalism and the school of printing. The Department of Printing and Rural Journalism began that year.

Professor Byrne reported in the “Northwest Publisher and Printer” the following year that: “Under the present course of study … it was possible for a student to obtain a liberal education and at the same time to receive thorough training in the fundamentals of both journalism and printing.”

Byrne described the product of the program this way: “The publishing of the average country weekly in South Dakota, as well as in some other states, is largely a ‘one-man’ job and will probably continue as such for many years. For that reason, the future publisher must know the mechanical end of his job; he must also thoroughly understand the editorial side of it. And if he hopes to be a real success in rural South Dakota, he must be agriculturally trained, so as to see more clearly the problems of agriculture and their solution.”

During the 1930s and 1940s, a two-year course in printing was combined with three more years in journalism to produce graduates with a bachelor of science in Printing and Rural Journalism — PRJs, they were called.

The department was accredited for the first time in 1948, which was the first year of national journalism accreditation. According to Dean Earl English of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, South Dakota State College was the first department to be visited by an accrediting team and recommended for accreditation. In 1951, two years after George Phillips became department head, the present building was dedicated.

In 1956, the PRJ program was shortened to four years and a bachelor of science in printing management began. The same year the department began offering a bachelor of science in journalism and a master of science in journalism.

The department began a master of science in printing management in 1958. For a time it was the only school in the country offering a graduate degree in printing management. Consequently, a number of printing educators hold degrees from South Dakota State. The printing master’s program closed in 1972.

In 1973, Professor Phillips retired and was replaced by Professor Vernon Keel, who is currently director of the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University. The graduate program was suspended between 1973 and 1975 in order to direct efforts toward the undergraduate program. Professor Keel resigned in 1976 to become department head at his alma mater, University of North Dakota. Professor Ruth Laird directed the department until 1978, Professor Richard Lee was head from 1978- 2002 when Professor Mary Arnold, the current head, was hired.

In 1978, the Gannett Foundation awarded the department $25,000 and the South Dakota Press Association gave $3,000 toward the purchase of an electronic editing system. A Harris system with five VDTs and a microprocessor capable of receiving and storing wire copy was installed in 1980.

Subsequent changes in the early 1980s included electric typewriters in the reporting lab, a Linotype Omnitech typesetter attached to the Harris system and then a seven-terminal Macintosh desktop publishing system, also attached to the Harris system.

By 1989, the Harris system had been set aside. The university provided most of the capital assets and the South Dakota Newspaper Association provided $5,000 to purchase a 10-terminal Macintosh Plus system with a Laserwriter in the editing/typography lab and a 15-terminal Macintosh Plus system in the newswriting lab. The Apple Corporation provided the wiring, network software, printers and Laserwriter as part of the project.

Content Notes

Composed of mainly of publications produced by the department. Folders consist of mainly of newsletters but also contain pamphlets, programs, posters and info-sheets. Also included is the South Dakota Observer, a newspaper written, edited, set in type and laid out by journalism students at South Dakota State University and printed in the university's printing lab.

SDSU Archives and Special Collections

Follow this link for more information:




South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.