|The South Dakota Digital Archives was launched in January 2012 by the South Dakota State Archives to provide digital access to unique historical photographs and records.|
Visual images form an essential part of the documentation preserved in the South Dakota State Archives. Researchers use photos to supplement written records when working on family histories, articles, books, and video documentaries.
Because the development of inexpensive and easily-available photographic processes coincided with the period of settlement and establishment of South Dakota as a state, the visual resources for studying South Dakota are particularly rich. The State Archives houses over 100,000 images dating from the territorial period to the present, covering topics such as homesteading and immigration, American Indians, town sites, scenery, and family life.
Photographs have been collected by the South Dakota State Historical Society since its founding in 1891. The State Archives program maintains collections received by the Society from private donors, and also acquires visual materials created by state and local government agencies. The State Archives accepts hundreds of historical photographs each year from individuals and organizations who wish to have them preserved and made available to the public, and benefits from tax-deductible cash contributions which provide funds to maintain and preserve the collection.
Photographers have used many different processes to create pictures, and each format requires unique treatments to preserve the images. The State Archives has examples of glass plates, tintypes, daguerrotypes, and cyanotypes from a hundred years ago, and now receives videotapes and digital images which need to be preserved for the future.