Wisconsin Historical Society Receives Funding to Digitize Collections | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

Wisconsin Historical Society Receives Funding to Digitize Collections for New Museum

For Immediate Release (January 4, 2022)

Wisconsin Historical Society Receives Funding to Digitize Collections | Wisconsin Historical Society

Madison, WI. – The Wisconsin Historical Society recently announced that a final site located within Madison, Wisconsin’s Capitol Square has been chosen for a new state history museum set to open in 2026. The Society is pleased to announce it was awarded $334,186 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support a project that will modernize its digitization services in preparation of opening the new museum. In total, the NEH announced ARP relief funding for nearly 300 institutions across the country to help humanities organizations and professionals recover from the adverse economic impact of the pandemic, retain and rehire workers, and reopen sites, facilities, and programs.

“The pandemic has required us to navigate many changes, including temporarily reassigning staff instrumental in the Society’s ongoing efforts to digitize our expansive Wisconsin and North American history collections,” said Angela Fritz, collections division administrator and state archivist for the Wisconsin Historical Society. “This grant funding enables us to get back on track to do the work that is required to make history more accessible to the public. By supporting the digitization of collections materials today, we are taking action to democratize history and deliver a new history museum where diverse communities see themselves represented.”

The award from NEH will fund one year of a five-year project to modernize digitization services. When the project is completed, the re-conceptualized digitization services will allow the Society to connect communities across the state and nation to museum programs, ensure broad accessibility and preservation of the Society’s rich collections, and facilitate discovery of freely available digital content for national and international audiences. Within a 12-month period, the Society plans to hire necessary staff and provide training to support expanded digitization services, conduct an assessment of current digitization services and digital stewardship practices, and replace equipment.

The Wisconsin Historical Society’s history collections have expanded steadily since its founding in 1863 and today encompasses a library of more than 4 million items, archives comprised of more than 105,000 cubic feet of textual collections, 25,000 maps and atlases, 3 million photographs, 750,000 three-dimensional artifacts, and extensive sound and motion picture collections. The Society’s holdings also include one of the largest newspaper and periodical collections in the country with a specialization in African-American newspapers and alternative serial publications spanning the political spectrum. The digitization of these collections is key to developing engaging exhibits and programming for the new state history museum. For more information, visit neh.gov.

*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this press release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, ranks as one of the largest, most active and most diversified state historical societies in the nation. As both a state agency and a private membership organization, its mission is to help people connect to the past by collecting, preserving and sharing stories. The Wisconsin Historical Society serves millions of people every year through a wide range of sites, programs and services. For more information, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.