Background Sources for South Dakota

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This entry was originally written by Laura Hall Heuermann and Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FUGA, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the South Dakota Family History Research series.
History of South Dakota
South Dakota Vital Records
Census Records for South Dakota
Background Sources for South Dakota
South Dakota Maps
South Dakota Land Records
South Dakota Probate Records
South Dakota Court Records
South Dakota Tax Records
South Dakota Cemetery Records
South Dakota Church Records
South Dakota Military Records
South Dakota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
South Dakota Archives, Libraries, and Societies
South Dakota Naturalizations
Native Americans of South Dakota
South Dakota County Resources
Map of South Dakota


The South Dakota State Historical Society published an extensive collection in 41 volumes between 1902 and 1982 of historical material entitled South Dakota Historical Collections. An index, published in 1989 is available from the society. Volumes circulate from the state library and a few are still in print and available for sale at the society.

There are many histories of counties and towns found in town or county libraries in the state. The Sioux Valley Genealogical Society (see South Dakota Archives, Libraries, and Societies), for example, has county histories for Minnehaha County as well as histories for Brookings, Brown, Clay, Faulk, Grant, Hamlin, Hand, Hanson, Jerauld, Jones, Lincoln, McCook, Moody, Potter, Turner, and Yankton.

The following provide additional background understanding of South Dakota’s history and its people, particularly nineteenth century immigrants:

  • Dvorak, Joseph A. Memorial Book: History of the Czechs in the State of South Dakota. Tabor, S.Dak: Czech Heritage Preservation Society, Inc., 1980. Topics here include church history; Czech history and immigration; and Brule, Trip, Gregory, Charles Mix, Bon Homme, and Yankton county history.
  • Fanebust, Wayne. Where the Sioux River Bends. Sioux Falls: Minnehaha County Historical Society, 1985.
  • Historical Records Survey. South Dakota Place Names. Vermillion, S. Dak.: University of South Dakota, 1940.
  • Karolevitz, Robert F. Challenge: The South Dakota Story. N.p.:Brevet Press, 1975.
  • Kingsbury, George Washington and George Martin Smith. History of Dakota Territory and South Dakota: Its History and Its People. 5 vols. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1915. Volumes 4 and 5 contain biographical sketches.
  • Laubersheimer, Sue. South Dakota: Changing, Changeless, 1889–1989: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, N.p.: South Dakota Library Association, 1985. Two supplements consisting of subject index. Pierre: South Dakota Library Association, 1986.
  • Phillips, George H. The Postoffices of South Dakota, 1861–1930. Crete, Nebr.: J-B Publishing, 1975.
  • Rath, George. The Black Sea Germans in the Dakotas. Freeman, S.Dak.: Pine Hill Press, 1977.
  • Schell, Herbert S. History of South Dakota. 3rd. rev. Lincoln, Nebr.: University of Nebraska, 1975. A standard historical account with descriptive maps.
  • Sittig, Emily Brende and Clara Brende Christenson, trans. Norwegian Pioneer History of Minnehaha County, 1866–1896. Freeman, S.Dak.: Pine Hill Press, 1976.
  • Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. South Dakota Geographic Names. N.p.: Brevet Press, 1973. Inventories old names used for counties, towns, villages, lakes, mines, and many other landmarks.
  • Turchen, Van Der West, Lesta, and James D. McLaird. County and Community: A Bibliography of South Dakota Local Histories. Mitchell, S.Dak.: the author, 1979.
  • Watson, Parker. “A Black Hills Bibliography.” South Dakota Historical Collections 35 (1970): 169-301.
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