South Dakota

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at


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Discover you family history through historical newspapers at
South Dakota

Why, why, WHY! do some archives insist on obscuring their wonderful content by making images hard to view online, allowing only thumbnail downloads, and splashing watermarks all over the durned place. Shame on South Dakota for making its fantastic landscape and history so hard to access.

That said, there are some useful online resources in the state, starting with...

The State Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society and particularly, the South Dakota Digital Archives. This is a smallish collection only recently posted (2012) but hopefully, it will grow with time. The online content includes:
  • Photo Collectionwith a very unfortunate watermark that appears to be a cross between a greyhound and wild mustang (the dog and the horse, not the bus and the car).
  • Manuscript Collection, lots of cool odds and ends here. 
  • Government Collections
  • Land Survey Field Notes, from the late 19th and early 20th centuries

For family history researchers, there are a number of name-lookup tools:
  • Cemetery Record Search, chiefly from before 1940s, though some more recent records are included as well. 
  • Birth, death and marriage notices printed in SD newspapers, largely from 2000 to the present, with a smattering of earlier records. Unfortunately, the search results provide a name, date and newspaper, but oddly, don't identify the event. 
  • South Dakota Farmer's Alliance, lists over 17,000 members from 1890-1894. 
  • Biographical File Index is an alphabetical listing of offline files on individuals kept by the SD Archives. 

At the Archive's Researchers page, you'll find additional resources, mostly pointers to or descriptions of offline content, on the following topics:
  • American Indian Research
  • Military Records
  • Biographical File
  • Missouri River
  • County Guides
  • Naturalization Records
  • Fire Insurance Maps
  • Newspapers
  • For Genealogists
  • Photo Resources
  • Government Records
  • South Dakota History - Index
  • Governor's Papers Vertical File
  • Library Collections
  • Wi-Iyohi Index
  • Manuscript Collections
  • Women's History Collection
  • Monthly South Dakotan
  • Archive-It (Archived State Gov. Websites)
  • Senator James Abdnor Papers
  • Country Schools
  • Rapid City Flood 1972

Elsewhere on the web, the SDGENWEB Archives site includes a lot of links to other content throughout the state, such as individual county archives. This is a real mixed bag of information, with links to some online, but mostly offline, content. 

Lastly, the Digital Library of South Dakota consolidates materials from seven schools in the state:
  • Black Hills State University
  • Dakota State University
  • Dakota Wesleyan University
  • Northern State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • South Dakota State University
  • University of South Dakota
In addition to individual school history archives (lists of school presidents, and the like), you'll also find topical collections such as:

  • 1972 Flood 
  • Black Hills National Forest
  • Civil War Diary
  • George McGovern Collection
  • Lake Madison Chautauqua 
  • Hobo Days
  • Photograph Collection
  • South Dakota National Guard Collection

More historical archives and research materials can be found at these excellent resources:

 Historical Newspaper Archives       

 Genealogy Tools                                US Historical Newspapers        

 European Historical Newspapers        International Historical Newspapers

Court Record Searches                        Public Records Searches