The Center for Western Studies Digital Collections

Sioux parfleche case, ca. 1890-1900

Sioux parfleche case, ca. 1890-1900. Part of the Blue Cloud Abbey-American Indian Culture Research Center Collection at the Center for Western Studies, a portion of which is now available online.

Since 2011, the CWS staff has been engaged in the Center's first Digitization Initiative. The result of these efforts is the Center for Western Studies Digital Collections, a free and continually expanding digital archive of materials from the CWS research collections.

Highlights of the CWS Digital Collections include:

  • Historic Sioux Falls Slide Collection: This first collection to be digitized features nearly 3,000 images of Sioux Falls and the surrounding area from the 1860s to the 1970s. A popular collection, it has long been used by historians, authors, historic building preservation enthusiasts, and interior designers to reveal the Sioux Falls of long ago. The collection includes images of important citizens, businesses, residences, schools, churches, organizations, city parks, transportation, military scenes, parades, celebrations, and bird's-eye views and street scenes.
  • Blue Cloud Abbey-American Indian Culture Research Center Collection: Over 1,100 images of nearly 600 artifacts from the Blue Cloud Abbey-American Indian Culture Research Center Collection are now available on-line. Most of this collection is related to the missionary work of Blue Cloud's Benedictine monks with the Sioux tribes of the Dakotas. Moccasins, necklaces, bags, regalia, and other clothing items exhibiting Sioux and Christian symbolism in bead- and quillwork are featured with carved Catlinite pipe bowls and various other objects. The time period of the artifacts ranges from ca. 1860 to more contemporary.
  • Dr. Paul A. Boe-Wounded Knee II Papers: The American Indian Movement invited Dr. Paul A. Boe, a Lutheran pastor, to go to Wounded Knee during the 1973 occupation as an observer and friend. During the ensuing legal battles, Boe nearly served time in prison for refusing to testify about what he saw there. 45 letters and memoranda from Boe's personal papers covering the time periods of spring 1973 and winter 1973-1974 are available digitally.

The Digital Collections are managed and web hosted by PastPerfect-Online, an extension of the Center's PastPerfect museum software. The web interface allows users to print copies of watermarked images, e-mail links to family and friends, and send purchasing inquiries and feedback to staff. For more information about the Center's image policies, consult the Image Use Form and Research Collections Fee Schedule.

Staff members intend to continue this effort, expanding the Digital Collections to include addtional artifacts, documents, and photographs from CWS holdings, as funding and staffing conditions allow. The project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. If you would like to help fund this important endeavor, please contact Executive Director Dr. Harry F. Thompson.

Augustana Album BadgeThe Center for Western Studies was very proud to participate in another recent digital collections project, the Augustana Album. The Album is a free digital archive of Augustana University and Augustana Academy publications. It includes more than 40,000 pages of available yearbooks, student newspapers, alumni publications, and school history monographs from 1899-2011. Under the leadership of Assistant Director Deb Hagemeier, Mikkelsen Library launched the program in celebration of Augustana's sesquicentennial, and the Center provided much of the raw material for digitization. Arcasearch, an imaging company based in Paynesville, MN, scanned and indexed the documents and hosts the database. Funding for the project came from the Mary Chilton DAR Foundation, the Midco Media Foundation, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, a Granskou Award, alumni, and private donors.

The Augustana Album Brochure provides search tips for using the database. As of February 2016, the database is now compatible with multiple web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.