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Audio files from the State Archives collections now available online

In November 2021, the South Dakota State Archives were awarded a South Dakota Humanities Council and National Endowment for the Humanities grant to digitize select audio recordings and make them available on the South Dakota Digital Archives.

“These audio collections were deteriorating on fragile tapes, and some of the recordings were in bad shape. The grant allowed us to digitize and make them available on our website. It’s wonderful to hear the voices of these individuals,” said State Archivist Chelle Somsen.

The digitized content is a variety of South Dakota history, including oral history interviews about wartime experiences in Vietnam and during World War II, life during the Great Depression, the Black Hills flood of 1972, and the 1985 Farm Rally in Pierre. There are also recordings with Gladys Pyle; Hazel Mahone, a successful African American businesswoman from Huron; Ben Black Elk; Ida McNeil, a pioneer in radio broadcasting; and Nellie Zabel Willhite, the first deaf person to earn a pilot’s license.

As the focus for the digitization project and electronic records, staff recently processed the digitized content, preparing transcripts, performing quality control, cataloging the files, and uploading them to the South Dakota Digital Archives. The 123 audio files and transcripts created for the project are now available on the South Dakota Digital Archives at

For more information, contact the State Historical Society State Archives, by calling 605-773-3804 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. For questions or memberships, 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.