Rapid City’s Past Housed In New Historical Collections Room

Dec 1, 2015

The Grand opening ceremony is planned for Tuesday, December 1st at 7:00 pm at the Rapid City Public Library.

From the lives of the Lakota who called the Black Hills home for generations, to the founding of Hay Camp, to the Black Hills Flood, the history of Rapid City is rich and deep--and now history buffs can find it all in one place.

The Rapid City Public Library is putting its historic archives, books, and even audio and video all in one spot.   The collection includes old photographs of Rapid City, old phone books dating back to 1914 and even a set of scrapbooks made annually by the mayor’s office for over 40 years.  Sam Slocum is with the Rapid City Public Library.   

“In libraries we talk about barriers to access, so going to an academic library or an archive or a museum sometimes you only see what they want you to see, or what's on display.  But here we’re just going to put it all out there and people can find what they want, and decide for themselves what the story is,” says Slocum. 

The archive also includes an effort to capture and preserve the oral history of Rapid City.   Kim Morey is a volunteer leading the effort to capture the voices of Rapid City residents.  He has already gathered  several hours of recordings documenting key events like the 1972 flood, and he’s looking for more people who can share something about Rapid City’s past.  

“I think our ability to sense and appreciate the connectedness that we all have through time, the sense that many have gone before us and many will go after us--that's the reason that it's in important to me.  To add another layer, another level, of the archive so to speak for future generations to feel that it's almost as if we have an anchor,” says Morey.

The Historical Collections Room is open to the public, but it’s all kept behind a locked door to ensure security for the rare items in the collection.  Library staff can provide access on request.

The Grand Opening Ceremony is planned for  Tuesday evening December 1st at 7:00 pm at the Rapid City Public Library.