Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Wisconsin: State Archives: Wonderful Local Sources for Genealogical Research
One of my daughters and one of my sons-in-law attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison for graduate school and I also have a sister and her family that live there. I also remember almost freezing to death one winter in Madison waiting for my daughter. So I have some connection to Wisconsin, but it seems like I should spend more time online looking at the resources from each of the Archives. Wait a minute. That is exactly what I am doing. Here is my look at the Wisconsin resources.

The Wisconsin Historical Society is the umbrella organization for the following divisions:
  • The Division of Library, Archives and Museum Collections
  • The Division of Museums and Historic Sites
  • The State Historic Preservation Office
  • The Office of Programs and Outreach
Here is a description from the Wikipedia article, "Wisconsin Historical Society."
The Division of Library-Archives collects and maintains books and documents about the history of Wisconsin, the United States, and Canada. The society's library and archives, which together serve as the library of American history for the University of Wisconsin–Madison, contain nearly four million items, making the society's collection the largest in the world dedicated exclusively to North American history. The Wisconsin Historical Society's extensive newspaper collection is the second largest in the United States after the Library of Congress. 
The society's archives also serve as the official repository for state and local government records. The society coordinates an Area Research Center Network, an alliance between the Historical Society in Madison and four-year campuses of the University of Wisconsin System throughout the state, to make most of the archival collections accessible to state residents.
The Division of Museums and Historic Sites operates the Wisconsin Historical Museum in downtown Madison and 11 historic sites throughout the state. The museum has an archaeology program in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources that undertakes research, and collects and preserves historical artifacts. The other historic sites are tourist attractions that display historic buildings reflecting Wisconsin history and provide exhibitions and demonstrations of state history, such as ethnic settlement, mining, farming, fur trading, transportation, and pioneering life. 
The Wisconsin Historical Society is located on 814 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin. This location contains the following records:
The headquarters building contains the Society's Library and Archives as well as the offices of most Society programs. Our librarians and archivists are ready to help you enjoy the largest collection of published and unpublished materials documenting the history of North America outside of the Library of Congress. Learn more about our visitor amenities
This is a photo of the Reading Room.

By James Steakley - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Many of the Archives around the United States feature specific resources for genealogists. The Wisconsin Historical Society has this section:
The Wisconsin Historical Society is among the top five institutions for genealogy research in the United States. Quoting in part, their collections contain "nearly every type of genealogical resource can be found - from vital records to military records, to passenger lists, to census records." Plus, their "4,000-title newspaper collection is second only to the Library of Congress." The "collections span the entire United States and Canada and are an invaluable resource for connecting your family's heritage." For a more complete overview see "Family History Collections Overview."

The Society also has twelve different historic sites and museums that are free to visitors.
The Wisconsin Historical Society website has a directory of over 400 local societies and museums.

Genealogists should take note that every one of these societies and museums may have information that is valuable to your research. If you are doing research in Wisconsin, it looks like to me that you have enough resources to last for many years.

But before you get in your car or take an airplane to Wisconsin, you should explore their online resources. You can find links to the collections on the "Explore Our Collections" page. In addition, it always a good idea to explore the holdings of all of the large online genealogy database websites and do an intensive online search for additional resources. 

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