Research Member Cards: Required in County Courthouses to search Indexes

  • Cards must be obtained to authorize access to South Dakota marriage and death indexes and records at the county level.

    This card, along with a photo ID, will allow you to search vital record indexes at the county level in South Dakota. This card does not need to be renewed at this time.

    In the legislative session of 2005, Senate Bill 41 removed public access to vital records across the state of South Dakota. With this bill, the SD Dept of Health, Vital Records Office put strong restrictions on all access to vital records less than 100 years old.

    A person may request a family vital record from the county office with the usual fees paid. For this you do not need membership in any society or the research card.

    But in the case of family research, usually 3-6 generations in the past, it is sometimes difficult to know which specific John Smith is of your family. We need access to those indexes and records.

    Therefore, in order to retain access to vital records and indexes for research purposes, the SD Genealogical Society was able to set up a contract between the Dept of Health, Vital Records Office and the SD Genealogical Society. Hence the Research Card.

    In this contract, with this research card and a photo ID, researchers are allowed to view the indexes to vital records at the county level. Then they are allowed to view a specific record to determine if it is of their family before they request a copy.

    If you have further questions about the research card, contact the SDGS through the SD Genealogical Society address or email.
    For questions on which records are available, you may contact the Register of Deeds or the Vital Records Office with the Department of Health- 207 E Missouri Ave, Ste 1a, Pierre, SD 57501 (605-773-4961) or visit

  • In addition to the $5.00 fee, you must enclose a photo copy of your drivers' license or official photo ID to request the card. The photo ID copy will be destroyed after processing.

  • Cards are issued through affilliate societies or the mail by sending the information to SDGS, PO Box 1101, Pierre, SD 57501. For additional information or questions contact the Corresponding Secretary of the SD Genealogical Society:

  • Membership in affiliate societies or the SD Genealogical Society is encouraged but not required to obtain a research card.