Census Records for South Dakota

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This entry was originally written by Laura Hall Heuermann and Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FUGA, FASG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the South Dakota Family History Research series.
History of South Dakota
South Dakota Vital Records
Census Records for South Dakota
Background Sources for South Dakota
South Dakota Maps
South Dakota Land Records
South Dakota Probate Records
South Dakota Court Records
South Dakota Tax Records
South Dakota Cemetery Records
South Dakota Church Records
South Dakota Military Records
South Dakota Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
South Dakota Archives, Libraries, and Societies
South Dakota Naturalizations
Native Americans of South Dakota
South Dakota County Resources
Map of South Dakota


Population Schedules

• Indexed'1860, 1870 (both as Dakota Territory), 1890 (fragment), 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 • Soundex'1880 (Dakota Territory), 1900, 1920

Agriculture Schedules

• 1870, 1880

Mortality Schedules

• 1860, 1870, 1880 (all as Dakota Territory)

Union Veterans Schedules

• 1890

Although the Dakotas fell under Minnesota Territory for the 1850 federal census, the only whites enumerated actually lived in that territory's Pembina County, now North Dakota. Only the schedule for Jefferson Township of Union County remains of the 1890 population census. Microfilmed copies of all federal censuses listed above are available in the South Dakota State Historical Society (see South Dakota Archives, Libraries, and Societies) and are available from them on interlibrary loan. The 1880 and 1900 Soundexes do not circulate. The mortality schedules are available on microfilm and also have been indexed by AISI (see page 3). These are available at the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, as well as various other repositories. The Sioux Falls Public Library, 201 North Main Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57102, has microfilm copies of the 1860, 1870, and 1880 federal population schedules for the territory, as well as for the state. The 1890 census (as with other states) was destroyed by fire. School censuses by some counties are in state archives.

Territorial and State

Numerous state-generated censuses for the Dakota Territory and the state of South Dakota were compiled and are available for research at the South Dakota State Historical Society. The Dakota Territory Special Federal 1885 census was taken under federal guidelines right before statehood and is extant for twenty counties in present-day South Dakota: Beadle, Butte, Charles Mix, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Hand, Hanson, Hutchinson, Hyde, Lake, Lincoln, Marshall, McPherson, Moody, Roberts, Sanborn, Spink, Stanley, and Turner. The 1885 census also contains a veterans' census. These listings may be borrowed on interlibrary loan.

State censuses include the 1895 census, available with ledger-style indexes, only for Beadle, Brule, Pratt (now Jones), Presho (now Lyman), Campbell, and Charles Mix counties. The census can be borrowed on microfilm from the South Dakota State Historical Society. Those censuses taken in 1905, 1915, 1925, 1935, and 1945, are also located there, but not on microfilm. Alphabetical card files exist for the 1905 to 1945 censuses. The 1905 census is an especially valuable census for the genealogist since land descriptions are given. This description can then be used to locate federal land records. Additional information in 1905's enumeration gives the length of time the individual was in South Dakota, and, if the individual was foreign-born, the time of residence in the United States.

Many early censuses of the state's Indian Reservations have been microfilmed and are available at The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, as well as the South Dakota State Historical Society, where they are available on interlibrary loan.

External Links

  • South Dakota Census Records - free up-to-date guide to accessing South Dakota census records. Identifies federal, state, and territorial censuses, as well as substitute records (FamilySearch Research Wiki).