New project preserving South Dakota in pictures
This photo of Bear Butte was taken by William Illingworth, who accompanied Custer's 1874 expedition to the Black Hills. Illingworth's photos are among those being digitized by the South Dakota State Historical Society. They will be available online in about a year.(William H. Illingworth)

The South Dakota Heritage Fund announced a contribution of $15,000 from the Stan Adelstein Family Fund to help the South Dakota State Historical Society in the digitization of historic photos of the Black Hills.

Adelstein of Rapid City joins the Deadwood Historic Preservation Fund and Black Hills Corporation in sponsoring the "Black Hills Collection."

Adelstein is making the gift in honor of his grandmother, Betty Martinsky, who homesteaded near Interior and later operated a general store in Kadoka.

"The pictures of the period in which she lived have always intrigued me," Adelstein said. "Without this project of preservation they might be lost, or at least not readily available. In these days of instant e-mail, the short flicker of the television picture and 'living in the moment,' the value of photos to study and reflect upon is immeasurable."

The State Historical Society has been collecting and preserving photos of South Dakota since Dakota Territory time. They have more than 100,000 photos in their collection. The photos are only available to be viewed with a visit to the state archives in the Cultural Heritage Center.

The Society, with the assistance of the South Dakota Heritage Fund, has initiated a new project, "Preserving South Dakota in Pictures."

This project will catalogue, index, and digitize each of these photos into various collections. The photos will then be posted on the Society's Web site, www.sdhistory.org. The public will be able to view the photos on the Web site free of charge.

The "Black Hills Collection" is the first collection in the project. The "Black Hills Collection" consists of photos from the John C. Grabill Collection, the William H. Illingworth Collection, the Carl Leedy Collection and the H.R. Locke Collection.

n Grabill set up a studio in Sturgis, Dakota Territory in 1886 and worked there until 1891.

n Illingworth accompanied Custer's 1874 expedition, the controversial expedition which found gold in the Black Hills. Kunkle produced this set of images of western South Dakota for the South Dakota Arts Council in 1980.

n The Carl Leedy Collection is a glass plate collection that consists of images taken by photographers Albert Halley and A. E. Lee. This collection includes Black Hills area people, smelter operations, buildings and birds-eye views of cities and Black Hills landscapes.

n Henry R. Locke was a professional photographer who operated a studio in Deadwood at the turn of the 20th century. The collection consists of Black Hills landscapes, Deadwood, railroads and mining.

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The "Black Hills Collection" will also include a large number of photos regarding the Blacks Hills area, including the towns' collection, tourism collection and historic preservation collection. These photographs will allow viewers to have access to the complete collection of photos about the Black Hills area and its history.

"Our state's heritage and history are an important part of our pride in South Dakota. These pictures are a rich and unique record of the experiences of our families, our communities and our state," said State archivist Chelle Somsen. "We have an invaluable treasure that can be shared with scholarly researchers, students, authors, publishers and producers worldwide."

The Society will begin this project yet this summer and it should take about a year to complete, according to Somsen. A public announcement will be made when the collection will be available for viewing.

"The South Dakota Heritage Fund is appreciative of the generosity of Mr. Adelstein and his family. Without him and our other sponsors this project would not be possible," said Bill Peterson of Sioux Falls, president of the South Dakota Heritage Fund board of directors.

"We know that once the public sees these pictures, they will want to see all of the photos available in the archives. We will continue to work with sponsors and the Society to complete all the collections in the coming years."

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