Joseph Harper Cash was born in Mitchell, SD, the only child of Judge J. R. and Claudia Harper Cash. He lived in Bonesteel, SD, until graduating from high school in 1944 shortly after his 17th birthday. Because World War II was at its height, his parents gave him permission to join the US Marine Corps. While waiting to report to Parris Island, he entered the University of South Dakota. After his discharge from the Marines at the end of the war, he returned to USD, receiving his BA in 1949. He attended law school and began graduate school before teaching ten years in Pierre and Lead High Schools while also acquiring his MA degree in history and English from USD. His Master’s thesis on the history of Lead, SD, was published in the State Historical Society Collections. Accepted into graduate school at the University of Iowa, he served as a graduate teaching assistant and earned his Doctor of Philosophy in history in 1966.
Dr. Cash taught at Montana State, Billings (previously Eastern Montana College) for three years, spending summers on South Dakota’s Indian reservations conducting oral history research for the Doris Duke American Indian History Project based at USD. In 1968 he joined the faculty of the University of South Dakota in history and remained at USD until his death 23 years later of pancreatic cancer.
In 1977 Dr. Cash was named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a position he held for 10 years before returning to full-time teaching in the Department of History. As dean, he insisted on high standards, research leading to publication, and service by the faculty, and fully appreciated good work done within the college and the university.
He held the Duke Professor of American Indian History Chair during his lifetime due to his outstanding contributions in establishing, enlarging, and maintaining the premier collection of Duke Project oral interviews in the United States. He conceived and brought to fruition the South Dakota Oral History Project with funding from the state legislature. Both collections continually provide invaluable resources for researchers.
Dr. Cash authored 10 books and numerous articles on South Dakota history, mining, Indian and oral history, including To Be an Indian, The Sioux People. and The Practice of Oral History. His book, Working the Homestake was a Francis Parkinson Prize nominee.
In 1990, Dr. Cash received the Robinson Award in recognition of his service to South Dakota in preservation of its history. This award also recognized his accomplishments at USD, his service as president of the South Dakota Historical Society and membership on the board of directors, a member of the Cultural Preservation Commission. and as a charter member of the South Dakota Committee on the Humanities. Dr. Cash was also a member of the South Dakota Centennial Commission that planned the state’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1989, and he lobbied for the creation and funding of the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. In addition he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was active in professional history associations.
|Home Town (Bonesteel, SD)|