An old proverb states that “the eyes are the windows into the soul.” A genealogy corollary is that “a photo is a window into the lives of your ancestors.”
I love old photos, whether they are portraits of my ancestors or historical photos for the period when they lived. And it is important to a complete research that one attempts to understand the environment that surrounds our ancestors’ lives if one wants to truly appreciate what they went through.
So where can they be found? Obviously the best resource is our own photo albums and those that our relatives possess. But what about other resources? Many archives, historical societies, libraries and genealogical societies have collections of old photos. And in the past few years there has been a massive movement towards making these historical photo collections available online. Some have search capabilities where you can actually put in a surname or a location, name of a building or historical event and find what is available.
For the state of South Dakota what collections are available for you to browse and/or search online? Here is a list of sites to start with. Please feel free to add in the comments other online resources that you might be aware of in the state.
Please be aware that there may be very strict rules regarding downloading or other use of the images that you may find. Copyright and other legal protections may be in force. Make sure that you read the limitations of use for any image that you find in these collections and wish to download and/or copy. It is your responsibility to adhere to the rules for all of these collections.
Please note that links to these sites may change in the future. The author (me) will not be constantly checking and updating these links, so if you find a broken link, please use your favorite search engine to locate the new link.
(Updated October 2021; recently added links are in BOLD)
- Aberdeen Area Historical Photos
- Black Hills Knowledge Network Photos
- Black Hills State University Photo Collections
- Bon Homme County Photos
- Brookings – Norby Photo Collection
- Clark County Photo Gallery
- Codington Postcards
- Day County Historic Photographs
- Deadwood Historical Photos
- Deadwood Revealed Historical Photos
- Digital Library of South Dakota
- Early Mitchell Photos
- Historic South Dakota Photos
- Huron, SD History
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog
- Library of Congress Prints & Photographs – South Dakota
- Lyman County Photos
- National Archives – Digital Photograph Collections
- Northern State University Digital Collections
- Oglala Dakota College Photo Archives
- Pierre and Fort Pierre Historic Places – Photos
- Rapid City Public Library Historic Archives
- Siouxland Heritage Museums – Photos
- Smithsonian Images
- South Dakota Ancient Faces
- South Dakota Dead Fred
- South Dakota Digital Archives
- South Dakota Historical Photos
- South Dakota Historical Photos
- South Dakota History of Cities, Towns, places and people who made it great – Photos
- South Dakota History Photos
- South Dakota Old Family Photos
- South Dakota Penny Postcards
- South Dakota Public Broadcasting – Images of the Past
- South Dakota State Historic Preservation Photos
- South Dakota State Library Digital Collections
- South Dakota State University Photo Collection
- South Dakota, DP.LA Photos
- South Dakota, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
- Tripp County Photos
- University of South Dakota Photograph Collection
- Vintage Aerial Photos – South Dakota
For historical photos from other states as well as articles about photo research, please visit the Photos page.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
For other Free South Dakota Links, click on the category of interest:
Probate and Wills