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State historical society seeks written South Dakota history

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PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota State Historical Society Archives is seeking donations of written materials that convey the diverse history of the state’s past.

“Written records have provided vital clues to South Dakota’s past,” said Chelle Somsen, state archivist. “Letters, diaries and unpublished writings of many types, as well as photographs, maps and other primary source materials, allow researchers and authors to study and write the history of South Dakota.”

The State Archives, located in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, is responsible for collecting these types of history.

“We accept donations as small as a single item to as large as dozens of boxes,” Somsen said. “It is not required that collections be organized, that the items donated be ‘old,’ or relate specifically to famous state individuals, events or organizations to be considered historically significant.”

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The State Archives is charged with collecting, preserving and making accessible a variety of records including letters, memoirs/reminiscences, diaries, scrapbooks/photo albums, professional papers, genealogical information, speeches/lectures, business records, subject files, legal documents, minutes/reports, brochures and flyers, photographs and films/videos/audio tapes. Also of interest are files relating to an individual’s civic, business, religious, political or social activities.

“The state historical society does not have funds to purchase archival or museum materials, so we rely on the generosity of our citizens or anybody else who may have pieces of South Dakota history,” Somsen said.

Contact the State Archives to discuss the possibility of donating a collection if you, or someone you know, have materials relating to the history of South Dakota. Contact the archives at (605) 773-3804 or by e-mail at

The State Archives is open Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.