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Mission Statement

Together we empower audiences to experience South Dakota's stories. We professionally collect, preserve, interpret, and publish our history for present and future generations. We are proudly supported by the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation and are an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

About Us

The South Dakota State Historical Society, first organized as the Old Settlers Association of Dakota Territory in 1862, established its official relationship with state government in 1901 through the former Department of History. Originally housed in the state capitol, the Society moved in 1932 to the newly completed Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Building across the street. In 1989 South Dakota celebrated its centennial and to mark the anniversary and showcase the state's history, the Cultural Heritage Center was built as the new headquarters for the Society. Through the years, state government reorganizations have shaped and reshaped the Society into the vigorous organization of today. Explore South Dakota's history - list your home on the National Register of Historic Places, read our publications, study in our research room, and visit our museum.

An office within the Department of Education, the Society manages five programs - Archaeology, Archives, Historic Preservation, Museum, and Research and Publishing. All the programs are located at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, with the exception of the State Archaeological Research Center, which is located in Rapid City and the Archives Special Projects Program at the Women's Prison in Pierre.

About The Director

Benjamin F. Jones is the State Historian and 9th Director of the South Dakota State Historical Society.

Jones was born in Sioux Falls and graduated from DeSmet High School in South Dakota. He earned a BA in history from South Dakota State University, an MA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a PhD from the University of Kansas. He served 23 years in the United States Air Force, where he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel and was stationed in several locations in the United States, the Pacific, Europe, and Afghanistan. He was a member of the History faculty at the Air Force Academy.

Jones was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Dakota State University from 2013 to 2019. While there he worked to enhance the General Beadle Honors Program and initiated the Cyber Leadership & Intelligence degree program.

Governor Noem appointed him Secretary of Education and he led the development of the department's 2019 strategic plan, which prioritized closing the opportunity gap for students in poverty and improving academic performance. He also led the department through the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020. He supported legislation to improve civic education in the state, an effort he continues in his current position.

In 2016, Jones published Eisenhower's Guerrillas: The Jedburghs, the Maquis, and the Liberation of France. He currently is at work on a history of the state and hosts a bi-monthly podcast, History 605. He is married to Suzy and they have three children, Hannah, Elaina, and Henry.



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