Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Statutes and Rules

Statutes and Rules | Wisconsin Historical Society

The basis for public records management and access are found in Wisconsin Statutes, administrative rules, and codes.

Wisconsin Statutes

The Wisconsin Statutes can be accessed online in their entirety; however, the statutes below are fundamental to the public records responsibilities of state agencies and local units of government. The table identifies select statutes and a brief summary, please use the links provided to read the full statute text.

Wis. Stat. § 15.04(1)(i)

Heads of departments and independent agencies shall establish and maintain a records and forms management program

Wis. Stat. § 15.04(1)(j)

Heads of departments and independent agencies shall appoint a records and forms officer

Wis. Stat. § 15.105(4)

Establishes the Wisconsin Public Records Board (PRB) and sets the composition

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(1)

Public Records Board responsibilities 

Wis. Stat. §16.61(2)(b)

Defines public records for the purposes of records retention

Wis. Stat. §16.61(2)(b)(1-6)

Outlines what material is not considered a public record

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(3)

Powers and duties of the Public Records Board

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(4)

Records are property of the state; agencies shall submit retention

schedules; retention schedules are valid for 10 years

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(5)

Transfer of records to optical disk format

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(6)

Microfilm reproduction of public records

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(12)

Authority to reproduce, access to copies

Wis. Stat. § 16.61(13)

Historical Society and UW Archives as depositories

Wis. Stat. § 19.21(1)

Establishes that every officer of a town, city, village, school district or other municipality or district is the legal custodian of records

Wis. Stat. § 19.21(2)

Transition of records on administration change

Wis. Stat. § 19.21(4)

Provides the 60 day written notification to the Wisconsin Historical Society for municipalities, sets 7 year minimum retention for municipal records unless a specific period of time is provided by statute, and provides reformatting of municipal records by ordnance or resolution

Wis. Stat. § 19.21(5)

Provides the 60 day written notification to the Wisconsin Historical Society for counties, sets 7 year minimum retention for county records unless a specific period of time is provided by statute, and provides reformatting of county records by ordnance or resolution

Wis. Stat. §§ 19.31-19.39

Open Records Law

Wis. Stat. § 19.32(2)

Definition of a record – for public records law purposes

Wis. Stat. § 19.62(5)

PII definition

Wis. Stat. § 19.82(1)

Definition of governmental body

Wis. Stat. § 19.82(2)

Definition of a meeting

Administrative Rules

Wisconsin Administrative Rule 12 outlines the responsibilities for maintaining electronic records throughout their lifecycle. The Wisconsin Public Records Board has released Guidance on ADM 12 (MS Word, 137 kb). The provisions detailed in ADM 12.05 state:

State and local agencies shall comply with all statutes and rules related to public records. With regard to public records stored exclusively in electronic format, state and local agencies shall do all of the following:

  1. Maintain electronic public records that are accessible, accurate, authentic, reliable, legible, and readable throughout the record life cycle.
  2. Document policies, assign responsibilities, and develop appropriate formal mechanisms for creating and maintaining electronic public records throughout the record life cycle.
  3. Maintain confidentiality or restricted access to records or records series maintained in electronic format, limiting access to those persons authorized by law, administrative rule or established agency policy.
  4. Utilize information systems that accurately reproduce the records they create and maintain.
  5. Describe and document public records created by information systems.
  6. Document authorization for the creation and modification of electronic public records and, where required, ensure that only authorized persons create or modify the records.
  7. Design and maintain new information systems so that these systems can provide an official record copy for those business functions accomplished by the system.
  8. Develop and maintain information systems that maintain accurate linkages, electronically or by other means, to transactions supporting the records created where these linkages are essential to the meaning of the record.
  9. Utilize information systems that produce records that continue to reflect their meaning throughout the record life cycle.
  10. Utilize information systems that can delete or purge electronic records created in accordance with the approved retention schedule.
  11. Utilize information systems that can export records that require retention to other systems without loss of meaning.
  12. Utilize information systems that can output record content, structure and context.
  13. Utilize information systems that allow records to be masked to exclude confidential or exempt information.