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Guide to Missouri River Records Project

Oahe Dam Surge Tank Construction

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Department of Environmental and Natural Resources

Department of Natural Resources Development

Department of Water and Natural Resources

Department of Transportation

Governors Papers

Related Collections

Other State Archives Collections

In 1998 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources provided funds to the State Archives for the purpose of identifying and cataloging records relating to Missouri River Development Project as well as creating a guide to these records for the public. This served as a continuation of an earlier project started at the State Library which identified published materials relating to the Missouri River.

Jennifer Johnson was hired through the State’s Executive Internship Program to review the Missouri River project records and create a finding aid. Richard Popp, the state archivist, and Marvene Riis, government records archivist, directed and supervised the project. Joe Nadenicek, legal counsel for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, served as a liaison to ensure that the project would meet the Department’s needs.

Over the last 20 years the State Archives collected records from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, its predecessors, and other agencies as part of its ongoing responsibilities to select and preserve the historical records of South Dakota, and make them available to the public. The Archives staff maintain a database of all these records but had not previously analyzed the records pertaining to Missouri River projects for subject content.

Records are usually transferred to the Archives when they are no longer actively used by the creating office, and when they are no longer needed for administrative or legal purposes. Some records are also donated by private individuals and organizations. Archives staff review thousands of boxes each year and select a small percentage for permanent retention. Records which are deemed to have historical value are catalogued by the name of the creating agency and the date of receipt. Each series heading in the guide represents one accession in the Archives entry log, which may include a single item or many boxes of files.

Because of the way in which records are received by the Archives, files on a particular topic such as the Missouri River Project may be found in many separate series under different headings, depending on the office which created the records, who maintained the files, and who transferred the files to the Archives. Separate series in the guide may contain copies of the same documents, because they were kept by different offices. Gaps also exist. File headings are sometimes vague and documents may be misfiled within folders. Although headings have been edited for spelling and format, for the most part Archives staff retained original file headings and filing systems to preserve the integrity of the records.

The Guide to Missouri River Project Records at the South Dakota State Archives provides researchers with access to documents such as correspondence, minutes, reports, reference publications, and photographs concerning the development of the Missouri River since the early twentieth century. The bulk of the records are from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and its predecessors, primarily the Department of Water and Natural Resources which was active from 1979 to 1991. The guide also includes records of other state and regional agencies such as the WEB Water Development Association and the Missouri Basin Inter-Agency Committee, files from elected officials including Governor George T. Mickelson and Senator James Abdnor, and relevant portions of general Archives collections such as photographs and vertical files. The records cover Missouri River projects and plans at federal, regional, state, and local levels from 1910 to 1995.

The guide consists mainly of folder-level headings for each record series. Records on particular projects or subjects may be found under different headings in different series. While surveying records to include in the guide, priority was placed on files which document the mainstem Missouri River dams, connected watersheds in central South Dakota and along the James River and Big Sioux River, and projects in those areas concerning hydroelectric power, irrigation, and flood control. Some files are included for the Garrison Project and James River in North Dakota because of their direct connection to the downstream areas across the border. For the most part, records were excluded which focused solely on the Black Hills area, urban waste-water treatment, and farming topics outside of floods, droughts, and irrigation. Researchers interested in these and other related subjects should consult Archives staff for more information about records which may be available.

Although the guide contains hundreds of listings for published reports, publications already catalogued in the Archives library and at the State library were excluded. Researchers should consult the South Dakota Library Network on-line catalog for full information about these holdings.

Only the most obvious collections concerned with Missouri River development were surveyed for inclusion in this guide. Additional materials are likely to be found in many other Archives collections. The records included in this guide constitute only a small percentage, less than three percent, of the approximately 10,000 cubic feet of material maintained at the South Dakota State Archives, and approximately 500 cubic feet of records are added to the collection each year. Additional resources will be added to this guide as they are identified or acquired

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