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Photo album of 1936 South Dakota donated to State Historical Society

Photo album of 1936 South Dakota donated to State Historical Society

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota State Historical Society-Archives recently received a tourist’s photo album of South Dakota images taken in June 1936.

The photo album features images taken and collected by Roy E. Karlen, a 1934 graduate of the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), Civil Engineering program. Karlen took more than 120 photos of South Dakota in June of 1936 while traveling through the state.

“Tourism has always played a major role in South Dakota’s history,” notes Chelle Somsen, state archivist at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. “This collection represents one man’s journey through South Dakota, with photos of the state’s tourist destinations, in the mid-1930s.”

Images from the photo album start in Sioux City, Iowa, travel through South Dakota, and continue to Wyoming, the Big Stone Mountains and Yellowstone National Park.

Some of the destinations Karlen photographed in South Dakota include:
• the University of South Dakota,
• Yankton’s Diamond Jubilee parade,
• the Missouri River,
• Badlands,
• Mount Coolidge Tower,
• Sitting Bull Crystal Cavern,
• the Stratobowl,
• Mount Rushmore,
• Needles Highway,
• State Game Lodge,
• Sylvan Lake,
• Bear Butte,
• Wind Cave National Park,
• Harney Peak, and
• the Petrified Wood Park in Lemmon.

“A small number of the State Archives’ manuscript collections originate from out-of-state sources,” Somsen adds. “They are either created by non-South Dakotans or are collected by family members whose relatives once lived in the state.”

Additional images taken by Karlen are viewable on the South Dakota State Archives Facebook page.

To donate items relating to the history of South Dakota please, contact Matthew Reitzel, manuscript archivist, at (605) 773-3615; or Dan Brosz, curator of collections, at (605) 773-6013.

The State Historical Society-Archives is open Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CDT. Contact the archives by phone at (605) 773-3804 or by email at

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