The 1972 Black Hills Flood Wiki project was launched by the Rapid City Public Libraries to test the idea of whether building a virtual archive focused on shared history and a life-altering local event would benefit a community. To help preserve the community’s memory of the lives that were lost and the remarkable heroism of the time, the Libraries launched a virtual archive to digitize and publish a variety of historical resources related to the flood.

The Flood website was created to consolidate information about this devastating event and the time that followed. Radio transcriptions, KOTA reporter Robb DeWall’s news reports and notes, timelines, memos and letters from the time of the event provide factual information but the personal connection to the community is provided through the interviews and recorded memories. Developed in a wiki format, this site represents a true collective effort on the part of the community. It incorporates written memories and photographs provided by those that lived through and were affected by the flood.

Library staff conduct and record oral histories of people who experienced the flood, which are compiled into videos and posted on the wiki. Individuals can go online and submit their memory to be included on the wiki or schedule a time for an interview. This is a collaborative project that allows the story to be told by those who were there. The success of the flood project ensures that memories will not fade and a pivotal event in our history becomes one from which the community can learn and gain inspiration.

Oral Histories
  • Over 70 interviews from survivors
  • The interviews are conducted by library staff who record the responses and then transfer the footage to the website. The goal is to not only capture and record recollections of this event, but to show the viewers what was learned from this experience and what lasting impact this experience left on the community and individuals.
  • The oral history project is on-going; one can contact the library to arrange for an interview at a specific time.

Written Memories & Map
  • Anyone who has memories of the flood can submit a written expression of those memories. The memory map marks where the person who submitted the memory was located during the flood.

  • Watch videos of television and radio broadcasts from the night of June 9, 1972. The Rob DeWall collection has transcripts from the broadcasts he did as the Emergency Systems Broadcaster. The urgency and seriousness of the situation is apparent when listening to the broadcasts or when reading the transcripts.

Photographs and Documents
  • Many of the photographs were donated by people who survived the flood. A link on this page also takes you to the digital archives on the Black Hills Knowledge Network for access to more photographs, reports, and maps of the flood.

Flood Plain Information
  • As a result of the 1972 flood, Rapid City adopted ordinances that created the Flood Plain. This section of the wiki gives historical and current information on the ordinances, maps of the Flood Plain area, and consumer information on buying flood insurance. More media stories will be linked as they are uploaded to the online archives.