We continue our year long celebration of South Dakota's 125th anniversary of statehood tonight by telling you a story about those whose job it is to preserve our state's history.
One project in particular, which is now in its 7th year, is bringing little seen images of South Dakota history to life....and you can see them in your own home....whenever you want.
Our story begins at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
Behind doors you need a security badge to access lies this 10,000 square foot, climate controlled vault.
In this room....row after row of books and boxes.
This is where South Dakota's history is kept.
"One of our main goals here at the Archives, we always say collect, preserve and make accessible. We're always collecting, we're always preserving and they always were accessible but you had to be in Pierre in order to look at them." Matthew Reitzel is an Archivist with the South Dakota State Historical Society.
For 7 years now, he's been part of an ambitious project. "It's a pretty broad span of years.."
Photographs..... from the 1870's....when our area was still Dakota Territory....through today.
Delicate photographs.....deserving to be in a vault....but the folks here in Pierre....decided this treasure trove of historic images...needed a wider audience...much larger than researchers who might come here to take a look. "It's not an easy process to go from paper to something that is on the web site. It takes a lot of time and effort."
So beginning in 2007...a two person crew has spent countless hours....delicately scanning these pictures into a digital format....and once they had that digital copy...they uploaded it to a special web site called the Digital Archive...and we're talking about a lot of pictures. There's over 43,000 photographs currently online and accessible through the digital archives."
A lot of the pictures are of old landscapes....old homes...old city scenes.
One picture....from 1874....is of then-Lieutenant Colonel George Custer...during his mission to chart the Black Hills.
The digital archive has 43,000 pictures...and holding for the moment....because the two people who worked on the project were paid for by grants...and the money has run out. "We have the materials, we have this format that we can put stuff on, now we just need more funding and staff to bridge that gap."
But the work that has been done....allows you at home to take a guided pictoral tour of the people and places who came before.