Volume 2: Midwest United States
South Dakota: SD-39

Benedictine Sisters. Sacred Heart Monastery. Archives
1005 West Eighth Street
Yankton, SD 57078

Phone: 605-668-6000
Email: See website (Contact Us)


Open: By appointment only

Access: Consult staff

Copying facilities: Yes


History: Founded by St. Benedict in 5th century Italy, the Benedictine Sisters have self-identified with the post-nominal initials, “O.S.B.” The Sacred Heart Benedictine Sisters established their motherhouse at Zell, Faulk County, South Dakota, 1874, and later relocated to Yankton, South Dakota. In response to a request from Bishop Martin Marty, O.S.B., they ministered to Native American students at the following Catholic schools in North and South Dakota.


St. Benedict School (Hunkpapa), Kenel, Standing Rock Reservation, South Dakota


Fort Yates Government Indian School (Hunkpapa), Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota


Immaculate Conception School (Santee, Sisseton), Stephan, Crow Creek Reservation, South Dakota


St. Bernard School (Hunkpapa), Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota


St. Joseph’s Indian School (Brulé, Santee, Sisseton), Chamberlain, South Dakota


Holdings of Catholic records about Native Americans:

Inclusive dates: 1878-1970s, undated 

Volume: Ca. 1.3 cubic feet + 326 photographic prints

Description: 3 series include Native Catholic records:


/1 Sacred Heart Monastery: "Records of Ministries - Education"

Inclusive dates: 1878-1974, undated 

Volume: .3 cubic foot

Description: Native mission and school records are arranged alphabetically by location of the school.

A. "Chamberlain, St. Joseph’s School," 1929-1973, .1 cubic foot:

1. Correspondence, 1951, 1953-1956, 1959, 1962, 9 letters: major correspondents include Mother M. Jerome, O.S.B., and Rev. Augustine Edele

2. Chronicle of the Benedictine Sisters, 1933-1973, 94 handwritten pages: early entries appear annually, later entries are monthly and occasionally daily; includes some clippings and photographs

3. Chronicle, 1929-1964, 192 typed pages: appears to be written by the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart

4. Diary of Sister Raphael, O.S.B., 1954-1960, 23 typed pages: occasional entries containing information on school events, personnel, and daily routine

B. "Fort Yates, Government Indian School and St. Bernard's Mission School, and Kenel, St. Benedict's School," 1878-1970s, undated, .15 cubic foot:

1. Correspondence, 1924, 1959, 1961, 6 letters

2. Chronicle (copy), St. Bernard Mission School, 1924-1961, 41 typed pages

3. Diary (copy), Rev. Bernard Strassmaier, O.S.B. [Benedictines], undated; copied in 1934

4. Quarterly school reports, 1892-1894

5. History of Fort Yates and a biography of Rev. Bernard Strassmaier, O.S.B., by Frank Fiske, undated, 26 pages

6. Scrapbook compiled by Sister Helen Marx, O.S.B., 1970s, 100 pages: contains summaries of Benedictine Sisters' chronicles, 1887-1974, copies of correspondence and photographs, clippings, and historical data

7. Photographs, 1878, 1926, undated, 6 photos

8. Historical notes and clippings, undated

C. "Stephan, Immaculate Conception Mission and School," 1887-1960s, undated, 2 folders:

1. Correspondence, 1887-1889, 1921, 1932-1933, 1935-1936, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1959-1960, 38 letters: major correspondents include Mother Gertrude, O.S.B., Mother Katharine Drexel, S.B.S. [Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People], Mother M. Jerome, O.S.B., and Rev. Justin Snyder, O.S.B.; most letters are copies from the Archives of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People (Archives: Wynnewood, Pennsylvania)

2. Notes summarizing “Diary of Rev. Pius Boehm, O.S.B., 1893-1930," undated

3. Scrapbook compiled by Sister Helen Marx, 1960s, 65 pages: contains summaries of Benedictine Sisters' chronicles, 1939-1965, a brief history of Immaculate Conception Mission written by Sister Marmion Maiers, 1961, and copies of the newsletter Woepeedah, 1941-1942, 1945-1946, 1949-1950, 1953, 1958

4. Account of Catholic Native education by Rev. Ambrose Mattingly, 1936, 8 pages

5. Photographs, 1938, undated, 2 prints


/2 Sacred Heart Monastery: “Membership”

Inclusive dates (created or copied): 1930s-ongoing

Volume: Approximately 1 cubic foot

Description: Records of Sister M. Claudia Duratschek, O.S.B., who wrote extensively on Catholic Native missions and schools in North and South Dakota. Includes correspondence (copies), transcripts of interviews, photographs, research notes, and clippings, which are arranged by mission or school and by subject. 


/3 Sacred Heart Monastery: “Picture File”

Inclusive dates 1883-1970, undated 

Volume: 326 prints

Description: Indian mission photographs are arranged alphabetically by location of the school. An exception is the category of “Other Indian Schools” which includes photographs from schools not staffed by the community.

A. “Chamberlain [South Dakota], St. Joseph’s School,” 1927, 1948, 1970, undated, 52 prints

B. “Fort Yates [North Dakota], St. Peter’s Mission, and St. Bernard’s School,” 1883, 1885, 1887, 1889, 1892, 1895-1896, 1900, 1902, 1904, 1906, 1910, 1912, 1919-1920, 1922-1923, 1929, 1934, 1946, undated, 152 prints

C. “Kenel [South Dakota], Kenel Farm School,” 1887-1888, 1908, 1915, 1943, undated, 41 prints

D. “Stephan [South Dakota], Immaculate Conception Mission School,” 1888, 1910, 1917, 1932, 1936-1937, 1943, 1951, 1959, undated, 61 prints

E. “Other Indian Missions and Schools,” 1885, 1888, 1916, 1932, undated, 20 prints: include photographs from St. Francis Mission, St. Francis, South Dakota; St. Paul’s Mission, Marty, South Dakota; Holy Rosary Mission, Pine Ridge, South Dakota; and Seven Dolors Mission, Fort Totten, North Dakota


Unless otherwise noted, the repository on this page holds (or held) the records described here and they are not held at the Marquette University Archives.