Wisconsin Archives and Libraries

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United States Gotoarrow.png Wisconsin Gotoarrow.png Archives and Libraries

Many archives and libraries have resources such as maps, gazetteers, and other aids to help locate places in Wisconsin. Many have record-finding aids, such as guides to their own collections or inventories of records housed elsewhere in the state. They may have collections of previous research, such as family and local histories and biographies.

A guide to Wisconsin archives and libraries is:

  • Ryan, Carol W. Searching for Your Wisconsin Ancestors in the Wisconsin Libraries. Green Bay: C. W. Ryan, 1988. (Family History Library book 977.5 D27r 1988; film 1440401 Item 2.

Inventories of County Archives

To learn more about the history and record-keeping systems of Wisconsin counties, use the 15inventories of the county archives published about 1940 by the Historical Records Survey. They contain detailed inventories of the records that existed in county courthouses in about 1940. They also describe the contents of the records. The Family History Library has copies of the inventories for Barron, Buffalo, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Rusk, and Sheboygan Counties. They are listed in the catalog under WISCONSIN, [COUNTY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES.

The following archives, libraries, and societies have collections or services helpful to genealogical researchers.

Wisconsin Historical Society

816 State Street
Madison, WI 53706
Library Division Telephone: 608-264-6535
Library Division Fax: 608-264-6520
Archives Division Telephone: 608-264-6460
Internet: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/

The Wisconsin Historical Society serves as the state archives, the state library, and the American history library for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Its research collections are divided between library and archives divisions. The library houses printed and microfilmed materials, while the archives maintains the original records for Wisconsin government jurisdictions. The Wisconsin Historical Society is the largest free-standing American history library in the United States. It has the second-largest collection of newspapers in the U.S., after the Library of Congress.

The Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin System jointly operate a network of Area Research Centers located at UW campus libraries throughout the state. Each geographic region is served by an Area Research Center (ARC), which houses the original records from that region. Centers often have probate records, tax records, school records, church records, naturalization records, and other local historical records.

Several guides have been published that describe the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society. A helpful introductory guide is:

  • Danky, James P., ed. Genealogical Research: An Introduction to the Resources of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1986. (Family History Library book 977.5 A1 no. 91.) ib

Another guide to the collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society is:

  • Smith, Alice E., ed. Guide to the Manuscripts of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1944, 1957. (Family History Library book 977.5 A5w; 977.5 A5w supp. 1.) A second supplement was published in 1966 (not available at the Family History Library). These guides contain references to the papers of many families and businesses.

The Wisconsin Historical Society's website has a number of resources of use to genealogists:

Wisconsin Area Research Centers

Wisconsin Area Research Centers.JPG

The Family History Library has guides to the three Wisconsin area research centers at Green Bay, River Falls, and Stevens Point. These guides are listed in the Family History Library Catalog under WISCONSIN - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES.

1. Wisconsin Historical Society
Archive Reference
816 State Street
Madison, WI 53706-1488
Telephone 608-264-6460
Internet: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/research.asp

Serves Sauk, Columbia, and Dane counties

2. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Eugene W. Murphy Library
1631 West Pine Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
Telephone: 608-785-8511
Internet: http://www.uwlax.edu/Murphylibrary/Departments/archome.html

Serves Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Trempeleau, and Vernon counties

3. University of Wisconsin-Platteville
The SW Wisconsin Room
Ullsvik Hall, 1 University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818
Telephone: 608-342-1719
Internet: http://www.uwplatt.edu/library/swwis/

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

4. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Harold W. Anderson Library
800 West Main Street
Whitewater, WI 53190
Telephone: 262-472-5520
Internet:  http://library.uww.edu/archives/archicol.html

Serves Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties

5. University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Wyllie Library/Learning Center
900 Wood Road
Box 2000
Kenosha, WI 53141-2000
Telephone: 414-595-2345
Internet: http://www.uwp.edu/departments/library/archives

Serves Kenosha and Racine counties

6. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Archives Department
UWM Libraries
PO Box 604
2311 East Hartford Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Telephone: 414-229-6980
I nternet: http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/arch

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

7. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Forrest R. Polk Library
800 Algoma Boulevard
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Telephone: 920-424-0828
Internet: http://www.uwosh.edu/archives

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

8.  University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Cofrin Library
Area Research Center (7th Floor)
2420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
Telephone: 920-465-2540   1-888-729-4611
Internet: http://www.uwgb.edu/library/spc
speccoll@uwgb.edu    libraryweb@uwgb.edu

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

9. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Area Research Center
University Library
900 Reserve Street
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Telephone: 715-346-2586
Internet: http://library.uwsp.edu/depts/archives/archives.htm

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

10. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Special Collections & Archives (5022 5th floor)
William D. McIntyre Library
University Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54702-5010
Telephone: 715-836-2739
Internet: http://www.uwec.edu/Library/archives/index.htm

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

11. University of Wisconsin-Stout
Swanson Learning Center - University Archives and Area Research Center
University Library
315 Tenth Ave.
Menomonie, WI 54751
Telephone: 715-232-2300
Internet: http://www.uwstout.edu/lib/archives/index.cfm

Serves Barron, Dunn, and Pepin counties

12.  University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Area Research Center
Chalmer Davee Library
120 Cascade Avenue - street address
410 South 3rd Street - maling address
River Falls, WI 54022
Telephone: 715-425-3567
Internet: http://www.uwrf.edu/library/arc

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

13.  Superior Public Library
Area Research Center
1530 Tower Avenue
Superior, WI 54880
Telephone: 715-394-8860
Internet: http://www.ci.superior.wi.us/index.asp?nid=158

Serves Douglas County

14.  Northern Great Lake Center
Area Research Center
29270 County Highway G
Ashland,  WI 54806
Telephone: 715-685-2647
Email:  whsnorthwoods@whs.wisc.edu

Serves Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Vilas, Washburn, Sawyer, Price, Oneida, and Forest Counties

National Archives

National Archives Great Lakes Region (Chicago)
7358 S. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60629-5898
Phone: (773)948-9001
Fax: (773)948-9050
E-mail: chicago.archives@nara.gov
Internet: http://www.archives.gov/great-lakes

State Societies and Research Centers

Wisconsin State Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 5106, Madison, WI 53705-0106
E-mail: wsgs@wsgs.org
Internet: http://wsgs.wetpaint.com/

Milwaukee County Historical Society
910 North Third St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Telephone: 414-273-8288

The Milwaukee County Historical Society houses Civil War and church records, obituaries and biographical newspaper clippings, naturalization indexes, census records, court and probate records, and coroners' inquests.

Vesterheim Genealogical Center
415 West Main St.
Madison, WI 53703
Telephone: 608-255-2224

This center has records of many Norwegian-Americans, including passenger lists, church records, family records, and Norwegian local and farm histories.

Wisconsin State Old Cemetery Society
c/o Robert Felber, Archivist
6100 W. Mequon Rd.
Mequon, WI 53092-1951
Telephone: 414-355-6252

There are an estimated 8,500 cemeteries in Wisconsin. This society has compiled the records of about 2,000 cemeteries. They publish a newsletter in which you can place queries.

Wisconsin Digital Collections

Hand and keyboard.jpg Wisconsin
Online Records
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

FamilySearch Online Collections