|Wisconsin Historical Society
E-mail: Ask a librarian form
- 816 State Street
- Madison, WI 53706
Hours and holidays: Mon-Thu, 8 am-9 pm; Fri-Sat, 8 am-5 pm; Sunday and Major Holidays - Closed
Map, directions, parking, and public transportation:
Internet sites and databases:
- Wisconsin Historical Society family history, community history, collections, Wisconsin history, museums and historic sites, museums and historic properties, WI history tour, photos, visit us.
- Wisconsin Historical Society Library Catalog by keyword, title, author, publisher, ISBN/ISSN, subject, call number, or publication year. Part of the UW-Madison Library Catalog. Also available in WorldCat.
- Wisconsin Historical Society Archives Catalog by author, subject, title, or keywords.
- Research Your Family History Search over 3,000,000 records.
- About the Draper Manuscript Collection well-known manuscripts, interviews, and history.
- Wisconsin Genealogy Index - a statewide index of pre-1907 birth, marriage, and death records, 150,000 obituaries and biographical sketches
- Historical image collection - thousands of images from the 19th and 20th centuries
- Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865 - alphabetical and regimental lists of soldiers who served in Wisconsin units during the Civil War
- Civil War veterans' censuses - 1885, 1895, 1905
- Local history and biography articles - 16, 000 searchable newspaper articles
- County histories - 80 digitized, searchable county histories
- Wisconsin Magazine of History - digitized, from 1917 to the present
The Wisconsin Historical Society serves as the state archives, the state library, an Area Research Center, 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.
Over 3 million family history sources: birth, death and marriage record indexes; newspaper clippings; photographs, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, obituaries, biographies, church histories, Civil War, Indians, transportation, and county records. Includes the best manuscript collection in Wisconsin, along with censuses, tax and land records. They have the Draper Manuscript Collection of interviews, genealogies, and early pioneer histories. They also have the Wisconsin State Old Cemetery Society burials in the earliest cemeteries.
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.
These guides contain references to the papers of many families and businesses.
If you cannot visit or find a source at the Wisconsin Historical Society, a similar source may be available at one of the following.
- National Archives I, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons, and federal employees.
- Dane County Vital Records Section birth, death, marriage, and domestic partnership records.
- Dane County Probate Court guardianship and probate court records.
- Dane County Register of Deeds vital records, military discharges, and land records.
- Dane County Medical Examiner suspicious or unusual deaths.
- U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin, Madison, recent civil and criminal case records.
- Dane County Historical Society, Madsion, archives by appointment only.
- Dane County Area Genealogical Society conferences and newsletters.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Library has a very large manuscript collection, as well as many town and county histories.
- Repositories in surrounding counties: Columbia, Dodge, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Rock, Sauk.
- Beloit Public Library a good genealogical collection with many published books, genealogical periodicals, and local family folders.
- Brown County Library Central, Green Bay, a very big genealogy section with excellent general materials, plus local histories, county histories, newspapers, obituaries, and family folders.
- Kenosha Public Library Simmons a good family history and genealogy collection.
- Milwaukee Public Library Central a very big genealogy section with family folders, biographies, statewide aides, indexes, obituaries, newspapers with a strong German immigrant collection.
- Oshkosh Public Library has books, periodicals, family folders, and indexes.
- Racine Heritage Museum Research Center has a very good genealogy collection: cemeteries, census, maps, directories, histories, photos, manuscripts, marriage index, obituaries, naturalization index.
- Superior Public Library very good genealogy collection of local newspapers, census, city directories, and naturalizations.
- University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire McIntyre Library houses large manuscript and book collections pertaining to local and state history.
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Golda Meir Library a great historical collection especially for German immigrants, and one of the best map collections in the USA.
- Wisconsin Vital Records births since 1939, marriages and divorces since 1968, deaths since 2003.
- Wisconsin State Genealogical Society conferences, webinars, forums, links, and county-by-county research resources such as cemetery lists.
- United Methodist Church Wisconsin Conference Archives, Sun Prairie, conference minutes, Books of Disciplines, hymnals, periodicals and tracts, local church records and Methodist history.
- Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Department of Archives and History.
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee many of their records are available on microfilm.
- Repositories in other surrounding states (or provinces): Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and in Canada: Ontario.
- Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, premier periodical collection, including Wisconsin genealogies, local histories, databases, military, censuses, directories, and passenger lists.
- National Archives Great Lakes Region (Chicago) old federal court and agency records for Wisconsin, U.S. federal censuses 1790–1940; military service and pension indexes, passenger lists, naturalizations, Ancestry.com, HeritageQuest, Fold3.
- Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois, a large repository with genealogies, local histories, censuses, military, land, indexes, vital records, court, and tax records mostly from the Mississippi Valley, eastern seaboard, Canada, and the British Isles.
- Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, millions of books, newspapers, periodicals, and photos about genealogy and family history, biographies, censuses, citizenship, immigration to and from Wisconsin and the USA, settlement, births, marriages, deaths, and divorces.
- Archives of Ontario, Toronto, births, marriages, deaths, immigration, land, probate, and religious records.