Library Acquisitions | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Acquisitions and Collection Development


The Library-Archives Division Acquisitions Section is responsible for acquiring, through purchase and donation, additions to the library and archival holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Given the broad scope of the Society’s collections in documenting Wisconsin, Midwestern and American history, this effort is divided into categories based on format and content.

Library Acquisitions

The library is responsible for acquiring published materials, in print and digital formats, that focus on the history of the United States and Canada, as part of its role within the UW-Madison’s library system. For these purposes documentation is acquired in sufficient depth to support PhD-level research in many subject areas. For more information about the subject areas collected by the library, see Library Acquisitions Areas.

The library is the official repository for all State of Wisconsin publications and, with UW-Madison, is a regional depository for United State federal government publications. It is also a selective depository for Canadian national and provincial documents and holds official state publications from many states throughout the union.

Archival Acquisitions

Archival collection development is responsible for the acquisition of manuscript collections. The Society focuses its current manuscript collecting activity on records documenting Wisconsin and three national topics: organized labor, mass communications and social action. For more information on each of these collecting areas see below.

Labor Collecting

The Society Archives has been collecting records of organized labor since the early twentieth century. Current collecting focuses on Wisconsin labor organizations, two national unions—the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Textile Workers Union, and both the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Labor Party. See an overview of our Labor Collection.

Mass Communications

The Archives actively solicits new collections on citizen reaction to the media; activist citizen groups involved in issues such as censorship and regulation, public access, quality programming, media education, and media ethics; nationally known journalists who were active during the mid-twentieth century; direct response advertising; national advertising and public relations leaders; and Wisconsin's largest advertising and public relations agencies.

See the Mass Communications History Collections fact sheet (PDF, 116 KB) and an overview of our Mass Communications History Collections.

Social Action Collecting

The Archives is particularly interested in new collections documenting the reproductive rights/right to life movements, and peace activism, particularly related to American policy toward Central America.

The Archives continues to collect materials on the Civil Rights movement and the protest movements against the Vietnam War.

See the Social Action Archives fact sheet (PDF, 116 KB) and an overview of our Social Action Collection.

Wisconsin Collecting

The Society Archives acquires private manuscript papers and organizational records that document the history of Wisconsin from the seventeenth century to the present (in addition to state and local government records). We seek Wisconsin textual, audio-visual, and digital collections encompassing many subject areas including agriculture, the arts, business and industry, mass communications, labor, social organizations and activity, the military, natural resources and the environment, recreation and leisure, politics and government, ethnic and population groups, and transportation.

Have Questions?

For more information on Library acquisitions contact:

Susan Dorst

For more information on Archives acquisitions contact:

Jonathan Nelson

Wisconsin History Tour.