Wisconsin Archives, Libraries, and Societies
This entry was originally written by Dawn M. Knauft and Carol L. Maki in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
- 1 Wisconsin Historical Society
- 2 Wisconsin State Genealogical Society
- 3 Wisconsin Area Research Center Network
- 3.1 History Center and Archives
- 3.2 Special Collections Dept.
- 3.3 Library-Learning Center
- 3.4 Eugene W. Murphy Library
- 3.5 Milwaukee Urban Archives
- 3.6 Forrest R. Polk Library
- 3.7 Wyllie Library/Learning Center
- 3.8 Elton S. Karrmann Library
- 3.9 Chalmer Davee Library
- 3.10 James H. Albertson Library
- 3.11 Library-Learning Center
- 3.12 Superior Public Library
- 3.13 Harold W. Anderson Library
(formerly State Historical Society of Wisconsin)
816 State St.
Madison, WI 53706-1488
Between its archives and library, nearly one-fifth of the entire Wisconsin Historical Society collection, now containing more than one million items, deals with family or local history, making it one of the largest genealogical collections in the country. It is not, however, limited to Wisconsin history. The library attempts to acquire all U.S. and Canadian historical and genealogical materials. Vital records prior to 1907 are on microfilm for the entire state (see Wisconsin Vital Records). Census holdings include all federal censuses for all states. The society has all federal census indexes for Wisconsin and is acquiring some indexes for other states. There is an extensive collection of passenger lists and one of the nation’s largest newspaper collections, national in scope, but predominantly concerning Wisconsin (see Wisconsin Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections, and Wisconsin Maps sections). Books, except for rare editions and pamphlet-size, are on open shelves.
The archives, housed in the Historical Society Building, holds manuscript copies of early state censuses (see Census Records for Wisconsin), sets of land, probate, court, and tax records from many Wisconsin counties and municipalities.
For more detail on the society, see James P. Danky, ed., Genealogical Research: An Introduction to the Resources of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1986) and the society’s website. Hours at the library include some evenings, but are also affected by university calendars since the building is on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.
P.O. Box 5106
Madison, WI 53705
The society’s mission is to help people discover the excitement of family history; providing leadership to the Wisconsin genealogical community and supporting them through education, communication, advocacy, and development of research materials. It holds two events each year in conjunction with membership meetings. Each event lasts one to two days and features state or national speakers. The quarterly newsletter includes material extracted from original sources. The society also publishes numerous indexes to Wisconsin county histories (see Background Sources for Wisconsin). The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society purchased the microfilm copies of the pre-1907 vital indexes and records (see Wisconsin Vital Records), which are held by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Thirteen area research centers in Wisconsin hold public records transferred by counties, towns, cities, and other local governments and collections of papers and records from private individuals and organizations. The goal of each center is to build comprehensive collections documenting the history of its region. The collections include photographs, newspapers, maps, and family histories. Many of the centers are enhanced by the contributions and volunteer hours of local genealogy groups. Newspaper indexes to vital records, cemetery readings, and original local church records can be located in some of the centers. Centers vary considerably in their collections and, therefore, in their value to genealogists. Archival collections usually located at the Wisconsin Historical Society or at one of the centers may be transferred temporarily within the network to accommodate local researchers (some exceptions apply, particularly for materials heavily used onsite). All archive and manuscript materials at the centers are cataloged centrally online at http://arcat.library.wisc.edu/. Write or call the appropriate center before visiting since hours vary by center, the calendar, staffing, and university schedules. The Wisconsin Historical Society Archives serves Columbia, Dane, and Sauk counties. The other Area Research Centers and the counties they serve are:
History Center and Archives
Northern Great Lakes Center
29270 County Highway G
Ashland, WI 54806-9339
Serves Ashland, Bayfield, Forest, Iron, Oneida, Price, Sawyer, Vilas, and Washburn counties.
Special Collections Dept.
William D. McIntyre Library
University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
Eau Claire, WI 54702-5010
Serves Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Rusk, and Taylor counties.
University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
2420 Nicolet Dr.
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Serves Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, and Shawano counties.
Eugene W. Murphy Library
University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
1631 Pine St.
La Crosse, WI 54601
Serves Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Trempealeau, and Vernon counties.
Milwaukee Urban Archives
Golda Meir Library
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
2311 E. Hartford Ave., Rm. W250
Milwaukee, WI 53201
University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Golda Meir Library–Archives
P.O. Box 604
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0604
Serves Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Washington, and Waukesha counties.
Forrest R. Polk Library
University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Serves Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, and Winnebago counties.
Wyllie Library/Learning Center
University of Wisconsin–Parkside
900 Wood Rd.
Kenosha, WI 53141-2000
Serves Kenosha and Racine counties.
Elton S. Karrmann Library
University of Wisconsin–Platteville
One University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818
Serves Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, and Richland counties.
Chalmer Davee Library
University of Wisconsin–River Falls
120 E. Cascade Ave.
River Falls, WI 54022
Serves Burnett, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.
James H. Albertson Library
University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Serves Adams, Juneau, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood counties.
University of Wisconsin–Stout
Menomonie, WI 54751
Serves Barron, Dunn, and Pepin counties.
Superior Public Library
1530 Tower Ave.
Superior, WI 54880
Serves Douglas County.
Harold W. Anderson Library
University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
800 W. Main St.
Whitewater, WI 53190
Serves Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties.