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Calamity Jane in 1895. Photo by H. R. Locke.
Calamity Jane in 1895. Photo by H. R. Locke.

Remembering Calamity

Jul 16, 2012

Calamity Jane's life and loves achieved mythic status long ago. It's rare to catch a glimpse of the woman behind the legend, but thanks to the a recent post at the South Dakota Oral History Center blog, we can now hear stories from two men who knew her. George Leeman first met the legendary Black Hills lady when he was just a boy. Pers Russell, the son of Gordon Party member Thomas H. Russell, knew Martha Jane Cannary from his days of bartending at the Bodega Bar. But they never forgot their encounters with one of Deadwood’s wildest citizens, and they shared those memories and other tales from the early days of the Black Hills in 1956 with J. Leonard Jennewein, a history and English professor at Dakota Wesleyan University.  

Excerpts from those interviews are available at the South Dakota Oral History Center’s blog. Click here to listen, contact the Oral History Center to purchase copies of the full interviews with Leeman and Russell, or search the center’s database to find more South Dakota historical tidbits. 


07:44 pm - Mon, July 16 2012
Jim said:
This digital age has made so many cool archives accessible. Information that would have required substantial time and travel is now available at any computer with more being added all the time. I think it's remarkable to listen to a first hand account of Calamity Jane. We should also take caution from history. A hundred years after your death do you want someone to recount ''She was awfully goodhearted when she was halfway sober''.
08:43 am - Tue, July 17 2012
Laura said:
The South Dakota Oral History Center is in the process of digitizing their entire collection -- something like 6000 interviews. Exciting stuff.

And you know, Jim, for some folks, being awfully goodhearted when halfway sober could be something to strive for. ;)

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