State Historical Society acquires 1930s lantern slide collection

The South Dakota State Historical Society recently acquired a collection of glass lantern slides dating back to the 1930s.

Pictured is the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Depot in Redfield, one of 90 lantern slide images from the Rev. H. J. Loemker Collection recently donated to the South Dakota State Historical Society. (Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society-Archives)

The Rev. H. J. Loemker (LOME-ker) Collection consists of 90 lantern slides, which were introduced in 1849 and allowed photographs to be projected onto a surface and viewed by a larger audience. Lantern slides were popular until the 1950s, when smaller 2×2 transparencies were introduced.

Loemker was a Methodist minister who served churches in Iowa and Illinois before eventually coming to South Dakota and ministering in the Crandon area of Spink County.

A majority of the Loemker images are from Spink County sites, but the collection also includes images from various locations throughout South Dakota. The collection includes images taken in or near the towns of Crandon, Redfield, Parker, Ashton, Woonsocket, Turton, Brookings, Clifton, Hermosa, Rapid City, Custer, Pierre, Hitchcock, Tulare and Webster.

Slide topics include churches and parsonages, agricultural scenes and machinery, tourist destinations, town scenes, automobiles, winter scenes, sod houses and courthouses.

The donor purchased the lantern slides at an auction and later donated them to the State Historical Society-Archives, located at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

The Loemker Collection offers a broad range of South Dakota images from the 1930s, said Chelle Somsen, State Archivist. Collections like these are what add depth and breadth to our states history.

Select images from the Loemker Collection are on the State Archives Facebook page via

To donate items relating to the history of South Dakota, contact Matthew Reitzel, manuscript archivist, at (605) 773-3615 or Dan Brosz, curator of collections, at (605) 773-6013.

The State Historical Society-Archives is open Monday through Friday and the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. CDT. Contact the archives by phone at (605) 773-3804 or email

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