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
Wisconsin sil.png
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

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.

Wisconsin State Genealogical Society

P.O. Box 5106
Madison, WI 53705-0106
wsgs@wsgs.org [1]

Founded in 1939, the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society's mission is to help people discover the excitement of family history by providing leadership to the Wisconsin genealogical community and supporting them through education, communication, advocacy, and development of research materials. It holds two educational conferences each year, the one-day Fall Seminar and the two-day Gene-A-Rama in the spring. Each features outstanding speakers of national stature, workshops on special subjects and vendors of genealogical publications, supplies and services. The quarterly WSGS Newsletter includes church, Bible, vital and cemetery records, helpful hints, articles on genealogy and a free query section for members. The society also publishes indexes to the application files for its Pioneer and Century Ancestor Certificate programs. The files hold a wide variety of genealogical data, including vital, church, land, naturalization and probate records, obituaries and other data which can be of great value to current researchers.

WSGS is a member of the Wisconsin Council for Local History, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and an organizational life member of the National Genealogical Society.

Wisconsin Area Research Center Network

A collaborative system of 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. Area Research Centers and the counties they serve are:

Wisconsin Historical Society Archives

Serves Columbia, Dane, and Sauk counties.

Wisconsin Historical Society 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.

University of Wisconsin'Eau Claire

William D. McIntyre Library
Special Collections Dept.
Eau Claire, WI 54702-5010

Serves Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Rusk, and Taylor counties.

University of Wisconsin'Green Bay

Library-Learning Center
2420 Nicolet Dr.
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001

Serves Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, and Shawano counties.

University of Wisconsin'La Crosse

Eugene W. Murphy Library Resource Center
Special Collections
1631 Pine St.
La Crosse, WI 54601

Serves Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Trempealeau, and Vernon counties.

University of Wisconsin'Milwaukee

Division of Archives and Special Collections
Golda Meir Library
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

Serves Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Washington, and Waukesha counties.

University of Wisconsin'Oshkosh

Forrest R. Polk Library
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Serves Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, and Winnebago counties.

University of Wisconsin'Parkside

Wyllie Library/Learning Center
900 Wood Rd.
Box 2000
Kenosha, WI 53141-2000

Serves Kenosha and Racine counties.

University of Wisconsin'Platteville

Elton S. Karrmann Library
Southwest Wisconsin Room
One University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818

Serves Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, and Richland counties.

University of Wisconsin'River Falls

Chalmer Davee Library
120 E. Cascade Ave.
River Falls, WI 54022

Serves Burnett, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.

University of Wisconsin'Stevens Point

James H. Albertson Library, Room 506
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Serves Adams, Juneau, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood counties.

University of Wisconsin'Stout

Library-Learning Center
Menomonie, WI 54751

Serves Barron, Dunn, and Pepin counties.

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Jim Dan Hill Library
PO Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880

Serves Douglas County.

University of Wisconsin'Whitewater

Harold W. Anderson Library
800 W. Main St.
Whitewater, WI 53190

Serves Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties.