French explorers Francois and Louis-Joseph Verendrye first came to the area that is now South Dakota in 1743. They were trying to find a good pathway to the Pacific. Then, in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase took place, transferring what is now South Dakota to the United States. The famous exploring team of Lewis and Clark explored the region from the following year through 1806. In 1817, Fort Pierre was created as the first permanent settlement in the South Dakota region. However, it wasn’t until the railroad came to the area, which was in 1873, that many settlers really began moving into the region. The following year, the Black Hills gold discovery caused even more settlers to come to the area.

Getting Started with South Dakota Genealogy and Family Trees

An Introduction to Resources for South Dakota Genealogy – Home to Mount Rushmore, the State of South Dakota is also famous for its role in westward migration, and the strong Native American culture it contains. Obviously, this means that there is a large demand for genealogical materials of all kinds, and these are widely and readily available.

South Dakota Counties

The Dakota Territory was created on March 2, 1861. Established on November 2, 1889 the State of South Dakota entered the union as the 40th state. It has 66 Counties. Select a South Dakota county to view information & records pertaining to each County

AuroraBeadleBennettBon HommeBrookingsBrownBruleBuffaloButteCampbellCharles MixClarkClayCodingtonCorsonCusterDavisonDayDeuelDeweyDouglasEdmundsFall RiverFaulkGrantGregoryHaakonHamlinHandHansonHardingHughesHutchinsonHydeJacksonJerauldJonesKingsburyLakeLawrenceLincolnLymanMarshallMcCookMcPhersonMeadeMelletteMinerMinnehahaMoodyPenningtonPerkinsPotterRobertsSanbornShannonSpinkStanleySullyToddTrippTurnerUnionWalworthYanktonZiebach

Useful Information for South Dakota Genealogy – It is somewhat interesting to beginners to learn that you can still do a huge amount of research for South Dakota genealogy. This is simply because there are resources available in both the online and offline formats. Many organizations have digitized their holdings and made them available to those with a computer. Of course, not all have been converted into online documents, and this means that your mandatory first step for good research for South Dakota genealogy is to discover how to go about gathering your data and materials.

Basic Tools for South Dakota Genealogy – To do this, however, you have to become familiar with the methods that modern researchers apply for South Dakota genealogy work. Among the most fundamental is to understand how the records they need are categorized.

Below are the most frequent definitions:

  • Local Records – most of your state research efforts require a visit to a county clerk’s office or website. From there you can visit with local genealogical societies, small local libraries, historical societies, and school or college libraries for South Dakota genealogy information. These are items that are usually offline and viewable by appointment or special arrangement.
  • Vital Records – generally this is the category for birth, marriage, divorce, and death records from county, state, and national archives. They include census records, newspaper items, military records, immigration and naturalization details, cemetery or obituary information, and passenger lists and records as well. These tend to be available as online or offline resources for South Dakota genealogy.
  • State Records – from probate information to private manuscripts, surname lists, newspapers, state census information, marriage details, military or veterans information, land records, maps, estate information, genealogical folders, death records, deeds, birth certificates, cemetery information and more; these are available as online and offline resources for South Dakota genealogy.

Targeted Resources for South Dakota Genealogy – The best resources available for South Dakota genealogy projects are the large groups known as public records. For example, the following records for South Dakota genealogy can provide a lot of details:

  • Vital Records, State Department of Health, 207 East Missouri Avenue, Suite 1-A, Pierre, SD 57501;
    This is the location through which you can order birth, death, marriage and divorce records via a written request.

Additional state and local records can be found at the following:

  • South Dakota State Historical Society, State Archives, 900 Governors Dr., , Pierre, SD 57501;
    This website is impressive and offers naturalization records, newspapers, cemetery records, biographies, Spanish American War information, Native American archives, and much more.
  • You will also want to explore the many resources available through the South Dakota Genealogical Society’s homepage at:

The websites below also provide targeted details that give a huge amount of valuable information to those in search of facts for South Dakota genealogy projects.

South Dakota Ethnic Group Research

South Dakota Native Americans – South Dakota has a rich Native American culture. Many of those records can be found in one of the three following locations:

  • South Dakota, State Historical Society (reservation censuses, school reports,, photos, maps, manuscripts)
  • Sinta Gleska College in Rosebud, Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota
  • Oglala Lakota, College on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Kyle, South, Dakota

Both the FHL and the South Dakota State Historical Society have several Indian agency records available. Many of them are on microfilm. Some of those records are: Cheyenne River Agency (1886-1951), Crow Creek Agency (1895-1976), Pine Ridge Agency (1874-1932), Rosebud Agency (1886-1942), Standing Rock Agency (1876-1939)

Those records may include vital statistics, census information, and various other documents. Both National Archives field branches, which are located in Denver and Kansas City, have Bureau of Indian Affairs records on file as well.