Announcing the Center for Western Studies Digital Collections

Children enjoy the swings at McKennan Park in Sioux Falls, SD, around 1915. This image is one of thousands available on the CWS Digital Collections.

Since 2011, CWS staff have 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.

The initial collection to be digitized, the Historic Sioux Falls Slide Collection, 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 Digital Collections include images on such topics as:

  • Fort Dakota
  • Quarries
  • Queen Bee Mill
  • Old Courthouse
  • Cataract Hotel, Fantles's Department Store, and various other industrial, retail, and wholesale businesses
  • Hospitals
  • Big Sioux River and the falls
  • Bridges
  • Transportation such as the railroads and street trolleys
  • Street scenes
  • Military scenes
  • Parades, celebrations, and recreation
  • City parks
  • Bird's-eye views of Sioux Falls
  • Important citizens such as the Pettigrews and Lyons
  • Residences
  • Schools and colleges
  • Churches
  • Organizations
  • Rural scenes
  • Beresford, Hartford, Parker, and various other South Dakota towns

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 artifacts, documents, and additional 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 College 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 Midcontinent Media Foundation, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, a Granskou Award, alumni, and private donors.

It is recommended that researchers use Internet Explorer to view the database. The Augustana Album Brochure provides additional search tips.