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About the Archives

The State Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society is located at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, SD. The State Archives provides researchers various types of information on South Dakota history held in the archive's collections.
Mission Statement

The State Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society collects, appraises, accessions, describes, organizes, preserves, determines significance, and makes available manuscript collections, South Dakota state, county, and town government records, photographs, maps, and other archival materials which have permanent historical and research value.

In order to accomplish this mission, the State Archives:

  • - Accessions archival materials to ensure preservation, clear organization, and ease of retrieval
  • - Researches and provides assistance to visiting researchers, government employees, and the general public
  • - Provides knowledge of archival principals and professional practices
  • - Seeks out and acquires collections revealing the history of South Dakota from various time periods
  • - Provides physical storage and procedures for handling collections to ensure their continued preservation
  • - Creates finding aids, repository guides, and web pages to locate and describe archive collections
  • - Oversees microfilming of newspapers and other records to assist in their preservation and dissemination
  • - Performs preservation treatments on materials to ensure their longevity
  • - Informs and assists other repositories which hold materials relating to South Dakota history
  • - Places emphasis on the need to collect, preserve, and make available digital records
Collection Policy

State Archives Collection Development Policy 

The South Dakota State Legislature's principal mandate to our State Historical Society is "to provide education of the public in the fields of history." (SDCL 1-18-3) In order to fulfill that mission, South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL 1-18B-2) requires that the Society "collect, preserve, exhibit and publish material for the study of history, especially the history of this and adjacent states . . . acquire documents and manuscripts . . . obtain narratives and records of pioneers; conduct a library of historical reference . . . diffuse information relating to the history of the region and in general encourage and develop within the state the study of history." 

The South Dakota State Archives is one of the state-funded programs through which the Historical Society accomplishes these tasks. The purpose of the Archives' Collection Development Policy is to provide guidelines for staff in the appraisal and acquisition of those published and unpublished materials which will fulfill the Legislature's mandate, and to inform the public and our colleagues of our collecting policies and interests. 

Statement of Collecting Interests and Priorities: 


The State Archives exists to collect, preserve, process/catalogue and provide reference access to those primary and secondary research sources, regardless of format, which best document the political, social, cultural, economic and natural history of Dakota territory and the State of South Dakota, its political subdivisions and citizenry; and those secondary (published) sources which similarly document the history of adjacent states with which South Dakota's history is closely intertwined. 
Donation Form


Government Records

As a state agency, our first duty is to collect and provide professional care for permanently valuable records of state/territorial and local government and those published materials, particularly government documents, which complement our records collections. Permanent value of government records may be established 1) by the State Records Destruction Board through formal records retention scheduling procedures (see SDCL Chapter 1-27) or 2) by appraisal by the State Archivist or his/her designee. The State Legislature has defined state and local government records in SDCL 1-27-9. 

South Dakota and Regional History

While the State Archives' primary responsibility is to serve as a repository for those state and local government records and publications which have continuing research value, the Archives also accepts donations of materials which fall within our collecting guidelines but which were not created in the transaction of official state or local government business. The Archives may also purchase such material when donation is not a possibility. These materials may include federal government records, personal papers and manuscripts, records of private businesses and organizations, photographic images, maps and architectural and engineering documents, sound and video recordings, books, machine-readable records, and other types of records or publications which document aspects of the history of our region's people, natural resources, and their interaction. 

Special Library Materials

In addition to adherence to collection policies outlined for the Archives above, the Archives' library unit actively collects materials to be added to our large genealogical reference library; serials published in South Dakota; and support literature for professionals in the fields of archives/historical library and museum administration and curatorship, archaeology, historical preservation, and conservation science. 

Digital Records

The South Dakota State Archives is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to primary and secondary resources which document the political, social, cultural, economic, and natural history of Dakota Territory and the State of South Dakota. Increasingly, these resources are created and maintained in digital formats. In response, the State Archives has established a Digital Preservation Program designed to ensure long-term access to digital materials.

Materials Not Collected

Generally, the State Archives does not actively collect: three-dimensional objects (such items may be accepted, however, in conjunction with a manuscripts or record collection and separated by prior arrangement to the most appropriate state museum or added to the Archives' ephemera collections if the items are small in size); public records of other states or manuscript material which does not pertain to South Dakota history; published material which does not pertain to our regional history; the paper originals of newspapers or newspaper clippings (we do collect and preserve South Dakota newspapers on microfilm and we encourage persons owning paper originals to check with the State Archives to determine whether the papers they own have been filmed). The published works of South Dakota authors will be actively collected only if they fall within our general collecting guidelines.


Monday - Friday

And First Saturday of the Month (Call ahead!)

9:00am - 4:30pm


Archives staff members offer lectures and slide presentations on research sources in the State Archives, preservation and conservation, and various aspects of South Dakota history. The Archives works closely with libraries, genealogical societies, and historical institutions and provides assistance to schools and school groups. Exhibits on recent acquisitions are featured periodically, and items from archives collections are included in the Museum gallery at the Cultural Heritage Center. Tours of archives facilities are provided to small groups with advance notice.

Historical Society Staff Presentations


Chelle Somsen - State Archivist

Ken Stewart - Research Room Administrator

Kimberly Smith - Librarian

Virginia Hanson - Government Archivist

Sara Casper - Government Archivist

Matthew T. Reitzel - Manuscript/Photo Archivist

Nicole Hosette - Digital Archivist

Sarah Kirchman - Digital Technician

Cherri Reed - Scanning Technician

Steve Mayer- Archives Associate

Contact SD Archives

South Dakota State Archives



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