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Sam Herley, Ph.D.

Preserving the Voices of the Northern Plains

The South Dakota Oral History Center collects and preserves voices of the people of the Northern Plains.

Included in the collection are over 5500 interviews which preserve indigenous memories and experiences from the 1890s to the present. This makes the collection an especially vital and valuable record of the historical, social and cultural legacy of the state.

The collection has been digitized and catalogued and is available to researchers and historians.


The South Dakota Oral History Center currently houses six unique collections. These collections contain nearly 6000 recordings, and are still growing.

The American Indian Research Project was originally funded by a grant from the Doris Duke Foundation in 1967, and contains approximately 2400 recordings. The recordings in this collection pertain solely to Native Americans of the Northern Plains.

The South Dakota Oral History Project aimed to collect recordings from every county in South Dakota. Currently containing about 3200 recordings, this large collection covers a broad range of topics.

The Stanislaus Maudlin Collection is unique in that it contains the Oral Diary of Father Stanislaus Maudlin, as well as many other recordings he made. The collection centers on Blue Cloud Abbey, a Catholic mission near Martin, South Dakota.

The John S. Painter Collection was an independently collected group of recordings, and was generously donated to the South Dakota Oral History Center. It contains nearly 300 recordings collected between the late 1950s and early 1980s.

The James Emery Collection is another independently collected group of recordings. Dating back to the early 1950s, this collection of nearly 300 recordings contains a large amount of Native American music, in addition to other material.

The Lindley Collection is the most recent addition to the center and was made possible thanks to the generous funds provided by Carina Lindley. The Lindley Collection contains recordings detailing the lives and experiences of people in the Northern Plains.