The idea for a community museum in Aberdeen dates back almost 70 years. In 1938, John Murphy, a Northern State College professor, and Marc Cleworth, a salesman, created the Northern South Dakota History Museum which was housed in the Central building on Northern's campus. The collection of this first museum grew rapidly through loans and donations until by 1941, it had amassed a collection of over 500 items. The museum closed in 1941 when space was needed on campus to train pilots. The collection pieces were either returned to donors or placed in storage where they remained until 1970 when they were added to the collection of the new Dacotah Prairie Museum.