Wisconsin Archives and Libraries
The following archives, libraries, and societies have collections or services helpful to genealogical researchers. One of the largest collections in the United States is at the state historical society.
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
The research collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society are divided between library and archives divisions. The library houses printed materials, while the archives maintains the original records for Wisconsin government jurisdictions. The local records are often located at the appropriate area research centers (see addresses below).
The library's subject card catalog contains the names of individuals from biographical sketches in histories, biographies, and obituaries. The library will check this card catalog for a name if you will send a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Several guides have been published that describe the collections at this 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, Wisconsin: 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, Wisconsin: 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 has an on-line Wisconsin Genealogy Index that indexes the pre-1907 vital records and other records. It is available at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/vitalrecords/
The pre-1907 vital records index lists births and deaths
The society houses collections of regional interest at area research centers. These centers often have census records; pre-1907 birth, marriage, and death records; probate records; tax records; school records; church records; naturalization records; and other local historical records.
In addition to the state historical society library in Madison, Wisconsin also has the following area research centers:
William D. McIntyre Library
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Eau Claire, WI 54702-5010
Serves Sawyer, and Taylor counties.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Library Learning Center
2420 Nicolet Drive
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
1631 West Pine Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
Serves Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Trempeleau, and Vernon counties.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Golda Meir Library
2311 East Hartford Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Serves Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties.
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Forrest R. Polk Library
800 Algoma Boulevard
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Serves Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, and Winnebago counties.
University of Wisconsin-Parkside
Wyllie Library/Learning Center
Kenosha, WI 53141-2000
Serves Kenosha and Racine counties.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
Elton E. Karrmann Library
725 West Main Street
Platteville, WI 53818
Serves Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, Lafayette, and Richland counties.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Chalmer Davee Library
410 South 3rd Street
River Falls, WI 54022
Serves Burnett, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix, and Washburn counties.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Learning Resources Center
900 Reserve Street
Stevens Point, WI 54481
Serves Adams, Forest, Juneau, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marquette, Oneida, Portage, Vilas, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood counties.
University of Wisconsin-Stout
Library Learning Center
Menomonie, WI 54751
Serves Barron, Dunn, and Pepin counties.
Superior Public Library
Area Research Center
1530 Tower Avenue
Superior, WI 54880
Serves Douglas County.
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
Harold W. Anderson Library
800 West Main Street
Whitewater, WI 53190
Serves Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties.
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.
National Archives-Great Lakes Region (Chicago)
7358 S. Pulaski Rd.
Chicago, IL 60629-5898
Wisconsin State Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 5106, Madison, WI 53705-0106
Milwaukee County Historical Society
910 North Third St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203
The society above 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
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
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.
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.
To learn more about the history and record-keeping systems of Wisconsin counties, use the fifteen inventories of the county archives published about 1940 by the Historical Records Survey. This source contains detailed inventories of all the records which existed in the county courthouse in approximately the year 1940. It also describes the contents of the records. The Family History Library has copies of the inventories for Barron, Buffalo, LaCrosse, Marathon, Monroe, Rusk, and Sheboygan counties. They are listed in the catalog under WISCONSIN, [COUNTY] - ARCHIVES AND LIBRARIES - INVENTORIES.
Computer Networks and Bulletin Boards
Computers with modems are important tools for obtaining information from selected archives and libraries. In a way, computer networks themselves serve as a library. The Internet, certain computer bulletin boards, and commercial on-line services help family history researchers:
Locate other researchers
Send and receive E-mail
Search large databases
Search computer libraries
Join in computer chat and lecture sessions
You can find computerized research tips and information about ancestors from Wisconsin in a variety of sources at local, state, national, and international levels. The list of sources is growing rapidly. Most of the information is available at no cost.
Addresses on the Internet change frequently. As of April 1997, the following sites are important gateways linking you to many more network and bulletin board sites:
A cooperative effort by many volunteers to list genealogical databases, libraries, bulletin boards, and other resources available on the Internet for each county, state, and country.
A useful list of sites and resources. Includes a large, regularly updated research coordination list.
For further details about using computer networks, bulletin boards, and news groups for family history research, see the United States Research Outline (30972), 2nd ed., "Archives and Libraries" section.
The Family History Library and some Family History Centers have computers with FamilySearch™. FamilySearch is a collection of computer files containing several million names. FamilySearch is a good place to begin your research. Some of the records come from compiled sources; some have been automated from original sources.
Computers with FamilySearch™ do not have access to computer on-line services, networks, or bulletin boards. However, those services are available at many public libraries, college libraries, and private locations.