Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Records Management Guidelines

Records Management Guidelines | Wisconsin Historical Society

Records Management in Wisconsin

Records are essential to the operation of state and local governments and are an invaluable source for historical research. Wisconsin law protects public records by defining them and specifying steps for their care, preservation, access, transfer to successors in office, disposition, and in some cases transfer to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Records are defined in Wis. Stat. § 16.61(2)(b)[1] as "all books, papers, maps, photographs, films, recordings, optical discs, electronically formatted documents, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any state agency or its officers or employees in connection with the transaction of public business." Wisconsin statute § 19.21(1) specifies that public records constitute "all property and things received from the officer's predecessor or other persons and required by law to be filed, deposited, or kept in the officer's office, or which are in the lawful possession or control of the officer or the officer's deputies."

The following sections are intended to help public employees manage their records.

Introduction to Records Management

Information on the reasons behind a records management program, and the benefits of records management.

Establishing a Records Management Program

Steps to take if your organization needs to implement a records management program.

Records Schedules

Records schedules are a tool for controlling the retention of your records.

Statutes and Rules

Records management has its foundations in state statutes.


[1] While this statute does not specifically address local government records, it is a codification of case law definitions of public records