CONTACT: Jeff Mammenga, Media Coordinator, 605-773-6000, [email protected]

Two supporters of the State Historical Society will receive the Robinson Award

PIERRE, SD — Two longtime supporters of the South Dakota State Historical Society will be announced as recipients of the prestigious Robinson Memorial Award Saturday at the society’s annual history conference.

Michael Lawson of Annandale, Virginia, and Jeanne Kilen Ode of Pierre will be recognized for their lifelong contributions to preserving South Dakota’s history through the award, which is named for ancient historians of the State Doane and Will G. Robinson and is one of the Governor’s Awards. History Prize.

“Michael and Jeanne, through their work with the State Historical Society, have both had an enormous impact in preserving our state’s history and truly deserve this great honor,” said state historian Ben Jones. and director of the State Historical Society.

Lawson has supported and contributed to the activities of the State Historical Society for over 45 years. He has won the society’s Schell Prize, awarded annually to the author of the best article published the previous year in “South Dakota History”, three times. After the Historical Society Press published its volume “Dammed Indians Revisited”, it was chosen to be the One Book South Dakota selection for 2012. Lawson serves on the Editors’ Advisory Board for “South Dakota History” and the South Dakota Historical Society Press.

As the former editor of “South Dakota History,” the society’s award-winning quarterly journal, and a longtime employee of the State Historical Society, Ode has dedicated nearly 40 years of her life to sharing the story of his country of origin with the public. Ode, who retired in 2020, played a key role in publishing the company’s bestselling ‘Pioneer Girl’ books about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She selflessly helped bring the works of other authors to life, to the great benefit of members of the State Historical Society and other readers in the state and area.

Others honored Saturday with the Governor’s Awards for History include Duke (Durward) Doering of Rapid City, Mrs. Brett Brennan of Waverly-South Shore, Istvan Gombocz of Vermillion and the Sully County Historical Society of Onida.

Doering is the winner of the individual award. He is recognized for his excellence in researching and preserving the history of the South Dakota National Guard since 2011, including his 44 years of service in the National Guard and his continuous service as a part-time historian. for the South Dakota National Guard.

Brennan is the history teacher of the year. A teacher at Waverly-South Shore High School, she shares history through a special relationship with the student body. Students look forward to his lessons, knowing full well that they will take a vast array of knowledge about this course with them in the future. His principal said students were practically begging to enter his classes. Brennan, who has been teaching for 13 years, said the most important aspect of teaching is building relationships with students. Students learn best when there is mutual respect, trust and connection with a teacher. She said that while teaching standards and content are always important, so is teaching social skills. Its goal is to send productive people out into the world.

Gombocz is this year’s Schell Prize winner. The award is named after Herbert S. Schell, historian and longtime professor at the University of South Dakota. Gombocz’s article, “‘Whatever Our Language We Have the Same Flag’: The Eureka Rundschau, 1915-1927”, appeared in the journal’s Fall 2021 issue. In the article, Gombocz analyzes a popular German-language newspaper from McPherson County, South Dakota. The Eureka Rundschau helped Germans in Russia create and maintain a dual identity, especially during the tense period of World War I. Gombocz is currently Emeritus Professor of German at the University of South Dakota at Vermillion.

The Sully County Historical Society is this year’s organizational award winner. Officially formed only on March 1, 2021, members of the society first met to discuss how to raise $360,000 to restore the county courthouse’s 110-year-old inner dome. But the group quickly realized that their passion extended beyond a single building, and they decided to support the preservation of Sully County’s history for present and future generations. In its short existence, the society has demonstrated how a small group of people can ignite community pride and spirit by tapping into the shared history.

Online registrations for this year’s history conference are still being accepted at For more information about the State Historical Society, including how to become a member of the society, please visit or call 605-773-6000.


About the South Dakota State Historical Society

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, archives, and offices for historic preservation, publishing, and administration/development. Call 605-773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archeology office in Rapid City; call 605-394-1936 for more information.