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Robert L. Kelly—Photo Collection

 Unprocessed Material — Multiple Containers
Identifier: H2017-038

Content Description

The collection consists of photographic materials relating to Pierre (S.D.) photographer R. L. Kelly and his family. Robert Louis Kelly was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada to Daniel and Lorenda (Knight) Kelly in 1851. Robert studied the art of photography in Hamilton and owned a photo studio there. He came to Pierre (D.T.) in 1881 and set up a photo studio. His wife Carrie (Whipple) Kelly, whom he married on July 10, 1879, would soon join him in Dakota Territory. The Kelly’s had six children, three died in infancy, their oldest daughter Alice died at the age of ten. Those that lived to adulthood were Ilma and Daniel. Carried died in Pierre on September 11, 1917. Robert died on March 30, 1934 in Minneapolis (MN). The collection includes photographs of Robert, Carrie, Ilma, various family members and acquaintances. Other photographs include image scans of Calamity Jane and Sitting Bull, a cabinet card of Alice and Ilma Kelly, a collection of postcards showing an airplane taking off from Fort Pierre (S.D.) in August 1915, a postcard of Lemmon (S.D.), an Indian burial tree from 1881, a postcard and scanned photo of Bob Yokum’s buffalo team, Ilma Kelly playing a piano, a wagon train cabinet card titled, “No. 300 Transportation, Pierre to Deadwood, D.T.,” information and a print of the famous “Bull Train” photograph taken by Kelly in September 1885, various images of Ilma Kelly who served as a nurse during WWI and portrait images of Robert and Carrie Kelly from 1917. Fifteen (15) scans were created, mainly from the glass plates. Photocopies of these scans were made and placed with the collection. There are eleven (11) glass plates in the collection. Two 8x10 glass plates were stored in the State Archives vault, U6S4. Eight 5x7 and one 4x5 glass plates were also stored in the vault, U2S2. An 11x14 black and white photograph of a row of stage wagons titled “Overland Transportation Pierre, S.D. to Black Hills 1885,” is in FB 662. The glass plate images of Calamity Jane and the Kelly home in Pierre, an oversized film negative of Sitting Bull, and a photograph of the Bob Yokum’s buffalo team, were scanned as part of the collection, but kept by the donor. The digital scans were run through the State Archives digital preservation program. The collection is also an accretion to State Archives collection H75-068, being a letter which Ilma Kelly sent to Charles Deland of Pierre in November 1918 describing her work and experiences as a nurse in Europe during World War I.

Acquisition Type


Restrictions Apply



  • ca. 1880s-1910s
  • 2017



0.5 Cubic Feet

538 Megabytes