SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Archives & Manuscripts > Groups/Organizations > 11238
To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or

OCLC WorldCat Logo

SHSND Photobook - Digitized images from State Archives

Digital Horizons

2019-2021 Blue Book Cover

Federal Depository Library Program

Chronicling America

Manuscripts by Subject - Groups / Organizations - #11238

Title: Silver Haired Education Association           

Dates: 1981-2014

Collection Number: MSS 11238

Quantity: 2 feet

Abstract: Consists of records of the Silver Haired Education Association, including founding documents, organizational history, membership information, minutes, correspondence, legislation affecting senior citizens, reports, documentation of activities such as trainings and workshops, and records of the Silver Haired Legislature and its assemblies.

Provenance: The Silver Haired Education Association collection was donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Cathy Langemo on September 29, 2014. 

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.  Permission to use any radio or television broadcast portions of the collection must be sought from the creator.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Related Collections:       
MSS 10474 Frank A. Wenstrom


"Silver-Haired Education & Aging Network of ND - The Beginning" by Walter J. Domrese, a founder of the NDSHEA and AAND who served as Chairman of the SHEA Steering Committee, 1979-1982.

In the fall of 1978, the Legislative Committee of the North Dakota AARP convened in Dickinson. Their Regional Representative told of a new development in Senior Citizen Advocacy called "The Silver-Haired Legislature." Three states already had one in operation and all reports indicated they were highly effective.

The Chairman of the Governor's Committee on Aging was present as a guest and observer. The Chairman requested that copies of a handbook on Silver Haired Legislatures be provided to the Committee. When received, they were studied by the Committee and a unanimous vote for the project was made.

Three months later at a Fargo meeting of the Committee, Seniors United indicated that it would
take an active interest in promoting a "Silver Haired Legislature" for North Dakota. Representatives of other senior citizen groups present voiced no objection. A forming committee of seven met at the American Legion Building in Minot on May 11, 1979. It consisted of three state legislators, one of whom was a retired UND Grand Forks professor, the State AARP Director, an educator, the Executive Secretary of Seniors United, and the Chairman of the Governor's Committee on Aging, who acted as chairman at the meeting.

Important decisions were made including having a unicameral legislature. It would be less costly, less complicated, and would do very well to educate seniors in the legislative process, as well as bring their concerns before the State Legislature and the public. Methods of financing the operation were discussed and none hesitated to proceed on that account.

Throughout the remaining months of 1979 and the first half of 1980, meetings were held every three or four weeks to develop policy and procedures, organize subcommittees, arrange publicity and finance for the first "Silver-Haired" session in June. $20,000 seemed the upper limit for financing. The Chairman of the Finance Committee was successful in obtaining free delegate transportation from the Farmer's Union who sent two buses for use during the entire June 1980 session. Delegates were picked up and returned to designated spots throughout the entire state.

Aging Services, through its Regional Aging Coordinators, conducted the first" elections with local volunteers assisting. They also contributed advisory and stenographic help and a $5,000 grant. The Seniors United and the Governor's Committee on Aging furnished· like amounts plus stenographic and other services. These, together with the contributions and help from many senior groups and individuals, enabled the first session to come out with all bills paid and a little left over.

Since the Silver Haired Legislature was a new thing, publicity was easy to get. Television, radio and the newspapers were very accommodating. Many state legislators and other officials came to observe the session in action.

The Silver Haired Legislature was very fortunate in having a veteran parliamentarian and legislator to act as an Advisor to the group and to serve as President of the session. With his experience and ability, the session became a great one - order and dignity prevailed. Delegates went home knowing they had participated in a unique and historic experience.

Overall reaction seemed highly favorable from delegates and public alike. The model legislation considered was proper and timely and no one seriously questioned the value of the session and what it had produced.

Aging Services was evidently impressed and so contracted NDSU-Fargo to have members of their Sociology Department prepare a "Manual of Operation" and to hold meetings around the state on aging. During this time the name of the organization was changed to "The Silver Haired Assembly" to avoid misunderstanding and confusion. Thereafter, delegates were designated "Assemblymen" rather than "Senators", and the "Legislature" became the "Assembly."

It was during this time, too, that the Executive Secretary of the Legislative Council convinced the Steering Committee of the importance of stressing the education aspect of the organization and thereafter it was the "Silver Haired Education Association.

At the 1981 Session of the North Dakota Legislature, the work of the Silver Haired was given consideration, but very few elders appeared to testify for their bills. There really was no organized effort to have them do so. Something was missing - there was no "follow through." Aging Services held a workshop on aging matters early in 1982 and during that workshop the idea of an "Aging Network" was conceived that hopefully would provide an organization, political in nature, that would carry more directly the concerns of older North Dakotans to state legislators and the general public.

At the close of the workshop, the concept was explained and volunteers for a forming committee were asked to remain. Fourteen stayed and a date for a meeting was set. On April 14, 1982, these fourteen, with other interested people, met in Lecture Room 8 of the State Heritage Center. After several later meetings, at one of which a guest representing a senior group made a very negative and discouraging presentation, the Aging Network was brought into being with a full slate of officers, a plan of operation, and a good comprehension of the purpose and function of the organization.

The test came in 1983 when many elders came to the state legislature to lobby and testify. Since then there has been little question of the value of the Network. It has been self-sustaining since its inception and has had excellent support from senior groups and individuals.

The Silver Haired Assembly and the Aging Network are products of the efforts and participation of hundreds of people. Those who provided the interest, energy and leadership can take pride in their accomplishment. Likewise, all who in any way have been involved and supportive can share that pride. The old of the state have the means of gaining a consensus on issues concerning them and a vehicle to use to bring those concerns to the attention of the state's legislators and to the public. Let us all see that they are not only maintained, but improved as our experience increases.

The mock Legislature which has been held every even-numbered year since 1982 decided to dissolve in December 2013. Spokeswoman Marlow Nelson said interest and participation has waned in recent years. At the 2012 assembly, fewer than half of North Dakota's 53 counties were represented. Officials say part of the reason is that the association is unable to cover the expenses of county delegates.

MSS 11238 Silver Haired Education Association, Box 1, Folder 1, State Historical Society of North Dakota
Bismarck Tribune, Dec 2013


Box 1:
1 Organizational history and documents for Silver Haired Legislature n.d.
2 Articles of Incorporation and by-laws  1981-2002
3 North Dakota Secretary of State documents    1981-2014
4 Steering committee lists ca. 2008-2014
5 Steering committee minutes   2000-2002
6 Steering committee minutes   2003-2006
7 Steering committee minutes   2007-2008
8 Steering committee minutes   2009
9 Steering committee minutes   2010
10 Steering committee minutes  2011
11 Steering committee minutes 2012
12 Steering committee minutes  2013-2014
13Correspondence 1997-2014
14 Correspondence about legislative bills of concern to seniors  2001-2013           
15 Director's reports 2008-2013
16 Proposals/reports to the North Dakota Department of Human Services 1995
17 Volunteer community, Ombudsman appropriation ca. 1983
18 Elder abuse legislation 1992-1993
19 Guardianship appropriation   1994
20 Public transit bill  1994-1995
21 Press releases and brochures  ca. 2000s
22 Funding and fundraising activities  ca. 1990s-2010s
23 National Silver Haired Congress  2004-2012
24 Trainings and workshops ca.  1990s-2000s
25 Silver Haired Assemblies 1984-1986
26 Silver Haired Assembly 1990
27 Silver Haired Assembly 1996
28 Silver Haired Assembly 1998
29 Silver Haired Assembly 2000
30 Silver Haired Assembly 2002
31 Silver Haired Assembly 2004

Box 2:
1 Silver Haired Assembly 2006
2 Silver Haired Assembly 2008
3 Silver Haired Assembly 2008
4 Silver Haired Assembly 2008
5 Silver Haired Assembly 2008
6 Silver Haired Assembly 2008
7 Silver Haired Assembly 2010
8 Silver Haired Assembly 2010
9 Silver Haired Assembly 2010
10 Silver Haired Assembly 2010
11 Silver Haired Assembly 2010
12 Silver Haired Assembly 2010
13 Silver Haired Assembly evaluations    2010
14 Silver Haired Assembly            2012
15 Silver Haired Assembly            2012
16 Silver Haired Assembly            2012
17 Silver Haired Assembly            2012
18 Silver Haired Assembly            2012
19 Silver Haired Assembly legislative bills 2012
20 Newspaper clippings ca. 1996
21 Photograph ca. 1996
22 Membership information 1994-2014 

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666

Social Media:
See all social media accounts