Wisconsin Archives, Libraries, and Societies

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This entry was originally written by Dawn M. Knauft and Carol L. Maki in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Wisconsin Family History Research series.
History of Wisconsin
Wisconsin Vital Records
Census Records for Wisconsin
Background Sources for Wisconsin
Wisconsin Maps
Wisconsin Land Records
Wisconsin Probate Records
Wisconsin Court Records
Wisconsin Tax Records
Wisconsin Cemetery Records
Wisconsin Church Records
Wisconsin Military Records
Wisconsin Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Wisconsin Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Wisconsin Naturalization
African Americans of Wisconsin
Wisconsin County Resources
Map of Wisconsin


Wisconsin Historical Society

(formerly State Historical Society of Wisconsin) 816 State St. Madison, WI 53706-1488 www.wisconsinhistory.org

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 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 Newspapers, Manuscripts, and Map 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), 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.

Wisconsin State Genealogical Society

P.O. Box 5106 Madison, WI 53705 www.wsgs.org

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). The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society purchased the microfilm copies of the pre-1907 vital indexes and records (see Vital Records), which are held by the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Wisconsin Area Research Center Network

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 www.wisconsinnorthwoodshistory.org 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 www.uwec.edu/Library/spcoll/arc.html Serves Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Rusk, and Taylor counties.

Library-Learning Center University of Wisconsin–Green Bay 2420 Nicolet Dr. Green Bay, WI 54311-7001 www.uwgb.edu/library/dept/spc/arc.html 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 http://perth.uwlax.edu/murphylibrary/Departments/archome.html 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 Mailing address: University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Golda Meir Library–Archives P.O. Box 604 Milwaukee, WI 53201-0604 www.uwm.edu/Library//arch Serves Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Washington, and Waukesha counties.

Forrest R. Polk Library University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh 800 Algoma Blvd. Oshkosh, WI 54901 www.uwosh.edu/archives Serves Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, and Winnebago counties.

Wyllie Library/Learning Center University of Wisconsin–Parkside 900 Wood Rd. Box 2000 Kenosha, WI 53141-2000 http://oldweb.uwp.edu/information.services/library/archives.htm Serves Kenosha and Racine counties.

Elton S. Karrmann Library University of Wisconsin–Platteville One University Plaza Platteville, WI 53818 http://vms.www.uwplatt.edu/~swwis 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 www.uwrf.edu/library/arc Serves Burnett, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.

James H. Albertson Library University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point Stevens Point, WI 54481 http://library.uwsp.edu/depts/archives/archives.htm Serves Adams, Juneau, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood counties.

Library-Learning Center University of Wisconsin–Stout Menomonie, WI 54751 www.uwstout.edu/lib/arc Serves Barron, Dunn, and Pepin counties.

Superior Public Library 1530 Tower Ave. Superior, WI 54880 www.ci.superior.wi.us/library Serves Douglas County.

Harold W. Anderson Library University of Wisconsin–Whitewater 800 W. Main St. Whitewater, WI 53190 http://library.uww.edu/services/archserv.htm Serves Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties.

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