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Donate | Digitization

Source: South Dakota State Archives

Glass plate photos - a great source for genealogist!

Alpha Mortenson was born near Platte on May 26, 1887, to Johan and Anne Mortenson. She attended the Platte public school and continued her education at Jewell Lutheran College in Jewell, Iowa.  She later studied photography and had photo studios in Platte, Lake Andes and Lake Park, Minn. She died in Tabor on November 14, 1950.

During her career as a photographer (ca. 1910-1949) she took thousands of photos (like the ones to the right) documenting the people and activities of southeastern South Dakota and Charles Mix County.  The images show day-to-day activities and work scenes, funerals and weddings, stores and soda shops, children, and cowboys.  There are many portraits of local residents.

These images are preserved on 4,500 fragile glass plates, donated by Alpha’s family to the South Dakota State Historical Society.  The State Historical Society wants to carefully scan these plates, catalog them, and add them to the South Dakota Digital Archives. Doing so will make this part of South Dakota’s history available to anyone with an Internet connection. 

Please help make Alpha Mortenson’s work available for the world to see; we cannot do the important preservation work without your support.  A donation to the Foundation helps enable professionally trained Archives’ staff to digitize these priceless images of our pioneer heritage. 

SDHSF Tax ID#:   46-03-70475


Yes, I want to help make Alpha Mortenson's work available for the world to see.

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