Wisconsin Maps

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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
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


The Wisconsin Historical Society has microfilm copies of Wisconsin county plat books (ca. 1870–1900), which are accessible through interlibrary loan. Early and later county plat maps are not microfilmed but some can be photocopied on request. State atlases were published for Wisconsin in 1876, 1878, and 1881, and include county maps. They show post offices, schools, churches, and road systems, all valuable information in locating an ancestral family in Wisconsin.

Geraldine Strey’s Land Ownership Maps of Wisconsin, 1836–1960 (Madison, Wis., n.d.) is very important in determining precisely what maps are available at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Aerial photographs of Wisconsin are in the collection of the Arthur Robinson Map Library, Science Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison. The first topographical map of Wisconsin, of the Stoughton quadrangle, is dated 1889. Bird’s-eye view maps are significant for Wisconsin research, inasmuch as they cover the period from 1867 to the end of World War I. There are over 200 of these maps for Wisconsin towns and villages. Most are listed in Elizabeth Maule, Bird’s Eye View of Wisconsin Communities (Madison, Wis., 1977), and are also available at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Many are available online as part of the Library of Congress American Memory collection of maps. The maps were drawn with great attention to the buildings existing at the time.

The Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, holds the map collection of the American Geographical and Statistical Society. The worldwide collection includes thousands of bound books, maps, gazetteers, and photographs. A cataloging program at this repository references maps that appear in books. Queries by mail or phone are answered, most material can be photocopied, and some holdings may be borrowed through interlibrary loan. The library is located at 2311 E. Hartford Ave., Milwaukee, WI; the mailing address is the American Geographical Society Collection, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Library, P.O. Box 399, Milwaukee, WI 53201.

Robert E. Gard and L. G. Sorden, The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names (1968. Reprint. Minocqua, Wis.: Heartland Press, 1988), has an alphabetical list of towns and cities, the county in which they are located, and a brief history.

The earliest Sanborn map (see page 5) for Wisconsin in the historical society holdings is for 1883. An earlier one exists for LaCrosse in 1879.

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