As a coincidental celebration of the South Dakota State Historical Society’s 120th year, all 41 volumes of the South Dakota Historical Collections have been digitized by the S.D. State Library.

From 1902 to 1982, the Historical Collection series was published biennially by the Department of History — now the S.D. State Historical Society — as part of its mission to collect, preserve, and make accessible the history of the state. All 41 volumes are now available in the Featured Collections section of the S.D. State Library’s Digital Collections.

“These volumes cover a wide array of topics and are a valuable resource for students, teachers, and scholarly researchers,” Mary Stadick Smith, S.D. Department of Education, said. “Six editors presided over the S.D. Historical Collections during its run, including Doane Robinson, Will G. Robinson, and Dayton Canaday. Their different editing styles and interests are evident throughout the volumes. Taken as a whole, the series represents an evolution in perspectives on the state’s history, heritage, and culture. In 1989 an index to the collection was compiled and published to aid researchers.”

The State Library serves as the state’s depository for current and historical state agency publications, some of which go back to territorial days.

The State Library’s Digital Collections reflect the history and culture of S.D. Primarily of interest to librarians, researchers and genealogists, the digital collections include newspaper articles, South Dakota library photographs, state government annual reports and research reports, S.D. Codified Laws, Session Laws, House and Senate Journals and more.

“The digitization of the South Dakota Historical Collections, informally known as the Green Books, took approximately 850 hours over the course of 10 months,” Ruth Raveling, information specialist S.D. Dept. of Ed., said “The digitized collection is publicly available at no cost in the State Library online digital collection at http://sdsdl-montage.auto-graphics.com/.”

The State Historical Society’s quarterly publication, South Dakota History, started in 1970 and eventually replaced the South Dakota Historical Collections.

“The State Library and the State Archives will retain hard copies of the collection for patrons who prefer to look at them that way,” Raveling said. “Some libraries across the state may also still have some of the volumes, which may be available to check out. The Green Books were one of the publications that the State Library distributed to the major libraries and repositories in the state. They were also available for purchase from the State Historical Society.

The cost of either project — the original 41 volumes and the digitalization of them — is difficult to determine.

“As you might expect, over the course of 80 years, the cost of compiling and distributing the two-year volumes would have changed a great deal, so that would require extensive research to determine,” Raveling said.

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