South Dakota Biography

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Biographies provide useful genealogical information such as a person’s birth date and place; names of family members, including maiden names; education; occupation; and social, political, and religious affiliation. They may also contain a physical description of the person, previous residences, and immigration information. Biographies are the product of family knowledge or previous research about early settlers and prominent citizens of a state, county, or town. Local histories may contain biographical sketches of lesser-known people.

The best collection of published biographies in South Dakota is at the South Dakota Office of History in the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Building, East Capitol Avenue, Pierre, South Dakota. Another biographical collection is found at the University of South Dakota at Vermillion.

There is no statewide biographical index or major manuscript collection. Many statewide, regional, and county histories have biographical sections which can be searched. Examples of such books are:

  • Memorial and Biographical Record: An Illustrated Compendium of Biography Containing a Compendium of Local Biography. Chicago, Illinois: G.A. Ogle Co., 1897. (FHL film 1000587 item 2.)
  • Fox's Who's Who Among South Dakotans: A Biographical Directory of Citizens Who Are Prominent in Professional, Political, Business and Civic Affairs of the State. Two Volumes. Pierre, South Dakota: Fox Kindley, 1929. (FHL film 1000589 items 6-7.)
  • Kingsbury, George Washington. History of Dakota Territory and South Dakota: Its History and Its People By George Martin Smith. Five Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: S.J. Clarke Co., 1915. (FHL book 978.3 H2k; films 1000584-86.) Volumes 4 and 5 contain biographical sketches.
  • Holley, Frances Chamberlain. Once Their Home: or Our Legacy From the Dahkotahs. Chicago, Illinois: Donohue & Henneberry, 1892. (FHL film 1000589 item 5.)

See the "Biography" section of the United States Research Outline for information on nationwide biographical collections. See also the "History" and "Genealogy" sections of this outline for additional sources.

To find biographies and published family histories on specific surnames in the Family History Library Catalog, use a Surname Search. Typing "South Dakota" in the Keyword Search will limit the search to families in South Dakota.

The Family History Library has many collected biographies and local or county histories with biographical sketches on residents. These can be found in the Family History Library Catalog by using a Locality Search under any of the following: