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Rare 1930s film footage now available on South Dakota Digital Archives

PIERRE, S.D. – Through the efforts of the South Dakota State Historical Society-Archives and the National Film Preservation Foundation, rare film footage of South Dakota’s history is now available online.

Film footage taken by Lawrence Cool of Platte in the 1930s was added to the South Dakota Digital Archives. The films were donated to the State Historical Society in 1997. In 2011, grant funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation paid for the conservation and digitization of five of the Cool films.

“The State Archives’ mission is to collect, preserve and make accessible historical records,” said State Archivist Chelle Somsen. “The Cool collection is an excellent example of how past donated materials are preserved by the State Historical Society, and now made digitally available through the South Dakota Digital Archives.”

Events filmed include a parade in Platte, a visit by then-Gov. William J. Bulow with Platte schoolchildren, and the construction of the Lake Platte spillway.

Grants and donations fund the digitization of the State Archives’ historical records currently available through the South Dakota Digital Archives.

Visit the State Archives website at and link to the “SD Digital Archives.” A search for “Cool” will link you to the digital film footage.

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 Archives, an office of the State Historical Society, is located in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The State Archives is open Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of the month from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CST. Contact the archives by phone at (605) 773-3804 or email


The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Tourism. The Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the State Historical Society. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen. The State Historical Society is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.

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