Wisconsin Historical Society

Field Trip or Tour

How to Schedule a Research Field Trip to the Wisconsin Historical Society

National History Day Research

Scheduling a Research Fieldtrip to the Wisconsin Historical Society | Wisconsin Historical Society

On this field trip, students will:

  • Learn how to conduct self-directed research on topics in North American history
  • Be trained to effectively use the Society's Library and Archives
  • Experience using computers and talking to reference staff to find books and collection records
EnlargeView of the Society's two-story library with students reading at tables.

Wisconsin Historical Society Library

Madison, Wisconsin. View of the 2nd floor Library Reading Room.

Program Details
Length3 hours or more (45 minutes for orientation, 2 hours for research)
Now through December 9, and by request in January
Maximum group size50 students
LocationWisconsin Historical Society Headquarters, 816 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin
LunchLunch facilities are not available at the Society. Many groups lunch at the UW Memorial Union (800 Langdon Street) across the street or dine at restaurants nearby on State Street.
Grade Level6th - 12th

Reserve Your Field Trip

In order to give Library and Archives staff sufficient time to prepare for your visit, we ask that you schedule research field trips at least three weeks in advance.

Step 1: Start the reservation process by drafting an email with the following information:

    • What dates are you considering? Provide numerous options.
    • What time do you plan to arrive and depart? (Please allow four hours for your trip)
    • How many students will you have in your group? (Maximum group size is 50)
    • What are your goals for the day? Students have a much more successful trip if there is a focus for their time with us. Do you want to introduce your students to specific archival materials? Do you want them to accomplish as much research as possible for a National History Day project?

Step 2: Send an email request to NHDinWI staff.

Step 3: Once we hear from you, you will receive an email from our staff within 48 hours following up on the details of your reservation.

Step 4:  Two weeks before trip all student topics are due to NHD in Wisconsin. This allows our archives time to consider what collections and materials are best for students while still providing time if materials need to be transferred from another institution.
            * Please have specific topics at this time. For example, “Abraham Lincoln,” is not as useful to us as “Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.” More specific topics ensure we know how to direct students, making the most of their time here.

Step 5: Prep students with some searching for call numbers. This ensures students won’t waste time searching for materials and will be able to jump right in. Computers in the reading room are also limited, so this means there won’t be a backup and other library patrons will continue to have access. (Details on this will be sent to you following receipt of student topics).

Day of Trip:

  1. NHD staff will meet your group in the lobby of the Wisconsin Historical Society at 816 State St. (This IS NOT the museum on Capitol Square, inform your bus driver).  We will provide a quick introduction to the day.
  2. The group will get a short introduction to how to use the library and then a similar tour in the archives. Each lasts 10-15 minutes.
  3. Students are set free to work. Please bring flash drives as students can scan materials for free this way. Bringing a camera is also a great way to use materials for visual NHD projects.

Directions, Transportation, Parking

To get directions, parking maps, and more see Location and Directions to the Society.

Most buses find it convenient to drop off students in front of the UW Memorial Union (800 Langdon Street). The Wisconsin Historical Society is across the street, facing Library Mall.

Vehicles with a clearance of 6'9" or less should park at the State Street/Campus Ramp, at the corner of State and Lake Streets, one block from the Society. If you have a larger vehicle, see more UW-Madison parking options.

Learn More

Have Questions?

Contact our staff by email.