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.