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State Historical Society celebrating 120-year anniversary

The South Dakota State Historical Society is celebrating 120 years of preserving the state’s history.

“For 120 years, the mission of the South Dakota State Historical Society has been to collect, preserve, exhibit, and publish the history of South Dakota, and we look forward to preserving our history for future generations,” said Benjamin F. Jones, state historian and director of the society.

It was on Feb. 5, 1901, that Gov. Charles N. Herreid signed the bill creating the Department of History. The functions of the Department of History were assumed by the South Dakota State Historical Society in 1973, and the society was reorganized into its current structure in 1985.

The society preserves state history through its archaeology, archives, historic preservation, museum, and research and publishing programs. Archaeology is in Rapid City; the rest of the programs are in the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, as is the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, the society’s nonprofit fundraising partner.

Each program has specific duties:

  • Archaeology preserves the state’s archaeological resources and maintains records of archaeological sites and projects.
  • Archives collects and preserves government and organizational records, personal papers, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and sound and video recordings that document the history of South Dakota.
  • Historic preservation staff works with public and private property owners to promote and preserve historic properties in South Dakota, provides federally-mandated review and compliance services under the National Historic Preservation Act requirements, and administers a variety of other programs within the state, including the Deadwood Fund grants.
  • Museum staff is responsible for collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of South Dakota through artifacts, educational programs, and exhibits. Museum exhibits have won several national awards over the years.
  • Research and publishing publishes “South Dakota History,” the society’s award-winning quarterly journal now in its 51st year of publication, and “History Notes,” the society’s newsletter. Since the founding of the South Dakota Historical Society Press in 1997, the program has published more than 100 books and won more than 50 awards.
  • The foundation is responsible for raising funds to support the society’s various initiatives and activities. Foundation staff coordinate the volunteer activities and the history book club, assist with the application for outside grants, and manage the Heritage Stores in the Cultural Heritage Center and state Capitol.

One of the best ways to support the State Historical Society is to become a member. Interest in the society is high, as there are members in 44 states and four foreign countries.

For more information about the State Historical Society and its programs, call 605-773-3458 or visit

About the South Dakota State Historical Society
The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Education. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution since 2013, 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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