South Dakota Girls State
University of South Dakota, Vermillion
June 2 - 7, 2014
A Brief History of Girls State
Back in the depression ridden days of the early 30s, the American Legion grew concerned over public statements to the effect that Democracy was "on the skids." How, it wondered, could America train its young people in the processes of self government as effectively as Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany seemed to be training their youth in the totalitarian forms of government. Deciding the best way to learn was by practicing it, American Legionnaires began, in 1935, gathering teenage representatives together for a few days each summer in a citizenship training program on the processes of city, county and state Government. They called it "Boys State." As the program succeeded and spread throughout the United States, the American Legion Auxiliary began a similar program for girls. Thus "Girls State" was authorized in 1937-38, and is now established in 50 Departments in our Nation.
South Dakota Girls State was founded at Mitchell in 1947. It met regularly each year on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University until 1985, when it was moved to the campus of South Dakota State University, Brookings. In 2002, the program was moved to the University of South Dakota, Vermillion. It is under the sponsorship of South Dakota Department of the American Legion Auxiliary. From an enrollment of 117 girls in 1947, Girls State has grown to its present enrollment of over 480 girls.