South Dakota County records differ extensively from county to county in either quality and quantity. Some have been very carefully preserved while others have been significantly neglected and neglected. Many South Dakota records have purely vanished. For genealogists carrying out research in South Dakota there’s no effective substitute for an on-site research of county court house records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia
South Dakota is divided into 66 counties. Todd County and Shannon County are the only counties in South Dakota which do not have their own county seats. Hot Springs in Fall River County serves as the administrative center for Shannon County. Winner in Tripp County serves as the administrative center for Todd County.
In 1990, a county records surveying project was started by the South Dakota State Historical Society. However, that information is still in the process of being centralized. For the moment, some records are held by local offices, while others are held by state offices, or at the South Dakota State Archives.
The WPA made county archives inventories at one point. However, only records for the following counties have been published: Bennett, Buffalo, Clark, Faulk, Haakon, Jackson, Mellette, Miner, Washabaugh. Records and documents that were not published were archived in Vermillion, at the University of South Dakota.
Land records, marriage records, and death records are all held by each county’s Register of Deeds, along with birth records for that county, unless adoptions took place. Criminal, civil, probate, and divorce records are kept in the offices of the Clerk of the Courts. The South Dakota State Archives holds several mothers’ pension records, insanity records, and adoption records. However, access to those records is restricted. See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.