Library-Archives Collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Collections Overview

Explore the Wisconsin Historical Society's Library and Archives collection areas.


We offer one of the nation's premier collections of published and unpublished materials essential to researching family lineage and history. See the Research Your Family History page to learn more.

General North American History Collection

Our collection is the largest in the United States focused on the history of North America; see more details below regarding our collection strengths and extensive holdings of newspapers, pamphlets, periodicals and resources on microfilm. Learn more about the North American History Collection.

Government Information and Records

  • This collection includes information produced by offices and agencies of Wisconsin local and state governments, other state governments, United States federal government, and Canadian government. This information is both about the governments of those jurisdictions and about the communities, societies, businesses and most other aspects of life in those jurisdictions. See more about Government Publications.
  • Holdings include original records of Wisconsin municipalities, school districts, courts and counties. See more about Local Government Records.
  • The Society holds records of the Wisconsin governor's office and executive agencies, state legislature, and Supreme Court. Learn more About the Wisconsin State Archives.

Manuscript Collections

Our manuscript collections are composed of the private papers and organization records of people and groups who have contributed to the history of Wisconsin and the United States.

In addition to Wisconsin history, special focus areas include:

Maps of North America

Our holdings include over 30,000 maps and atlases documenting the history of North American exploration, economic and social development, environmental change and land ownership. Explore our Maps and Atlases.

Photographs and Other Visual Materials

This collection includes over 2 million photographs and other visual materials documenting the history of Wisconsin and the United States in general. Explore our Visual Materials collection.

Wisconsin Historical Society Web Archives

This collection began in 2010, when the Wisconsin Historical Society began working with the Internet Archive (a non-profit organization founded in 1996 to create an internet library) to harvest selected websites: state agencies and local governments, political campaigns for gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races and related social media, topical issues such as mining and organic agriculture and selected online publications. Explore our Web Archives collection.

Learn More

Have Questions?

Contact our Library and Archives staff at 608-264-6535 or by email below:

Wisconsin History Tour.