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Wisconsin Historical Society

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Pre-Visit Activities for Field Trips to the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives

National History Day Research

Pre-Visit Activities for NHD Fieldtrips to the WHS | Wisconsin Historical Society

Research is a major component to any National History Day project. The Wisconsin Historical Society welcomes student researchers. In fact, teachers report that a research field trip can be one of the most successful field trips they take with their students. The following pre-visit activities have been designed to prepare students for their visit.

Become Familiar with Online Catalogs

In order to make sure that your students' experience is as rewarding as possible, students should familiarize themselves with resources in the library or archives.

Also, students should have the opportunity to "pre-search" online catalogs before they arrive. With millions of items in the Society's collections, it can sometimes be challenging for new users to find exactly what they want in our online catalogs. Plan a bit of extra time to give your students a chance to familiarize themselves with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library Catalog before they come in person.

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Library Catalog
    Searches materials in libraries across campus, including the Wisconsin Historical Society Library. Be careful to note the PHYSICAL LOCATION of each book in the library catalog—if it is not located in the Historical Society Library, it will not be accessible the day of the workshop. In some instances, National History Day staff members can retrieve publications from other libraries.

Know How to Use the Society's Archives

Archival research can be extremely rewarding for students of all skill levels since the materials they handle are authentic primary documents. The experience of working with professional archivists in a world-class research facility is a unique and memorable experience if students are prepared. Because of the size and scope of our collections, researchers come from all over the United States to use the Library and Archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Often, students who visit the Wisconsin Historical Society become frustrated if they attempt to use the archives in the same way they use a library. Since the Archives collects different types of resources, archival collections are more limited than those in a library.

A basic understanding of what Archives can offer will help students focus their efforts and avoid confusion when they participate in a research workshop.

Activities to Prepare Students

The following activities will help to familiarize your students with the library and archives as well as the online catalogs before they arrive.

  • Research Roadmap (PDF, 48 KB)
    Before arrival, have students use the online catalogs to search for resources on their own topics. Have them pre-select library and archive materials they want to use while they are here and complete a research roadmap for effective research.

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Have Questions?

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