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Abbie Whitney Photographs Added to South Dakota Digital Archives

A historic collection of photographs documenting the Black Hills in the late 1910s and early 1920s has been added to the state of South Dakota’s digital archives.

Abbie F. Whitney was born in Minnesota but moved to Brule County in 1880 with her parents. The family moved to Alpena 1883, then Wessington Springs in 1889. She was a graduate of Wessington Springs Seminary and taught school in Wessington Springs for six years. She worked for the Vessey and Gingery Abstract Co. from 1902 to 1908 before moving to Pierre as Governor Robert Vessey’s secretary. She was a secretary for the South Dakota Game and Fish Commission from the late 1920s to 1941.

Thanks to a generous donation from Paul Brewer of central Illinois, 67 photographs contained in two small photo albums have been scanned and are now available to the public via the South Dakota Digital Archives. 

Paul Brewer said, “My interest in South Dakota history began while pursuing my rail motorcar hobby in the historic towns of Murdo and Kadoka, South Dakota. This later resulted in return trips to the area for over a decade and included assisting an old friend in compiling information for a book about the Milwaukee Road rail line through the Badlands. As a retired wildlife biologist, Abbie Whitney and her collection certainly caught my attention, and I am very pleased to help preserve this piece of South Dakota history for generations to come “

The images in the two scrapbooks date to the late 1910s and early 1920s and are mostly images from the Black Hills area. Images include the Needles Highway, Custer State Park and the Game Lodge, Wind Cave National Park, Rapid Canyon, the Summer White House, Squaw Creek, Black Elk Peak, and Norbeck Cottages. Non-Black Hills images include the South Dakota State Capitol (Pierre, S.D.), Rosebud Indian Reservation, fish hatcheries, road construction camps and the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. A search for “Abbie Whitney” will display the scanned images.

Please contact the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation if you are interested in supporting its digitization efforts. Call (605) 773-6003 or email:

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 in Pierre. For questions or memberships, call (605)773-3458 or visit The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605)394-1936 for more information.