Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Current Guidelines for Archaeologists Working within Burial Sites

Archaeologists and Wisconsin's Burial Sites Laws | Wisconsin Historical Society

Provisions of Wisconsin burial sites law affect how archaeologists conduct field research.  In addition, the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Archaeological Survey have created guidelines regarding the documentation of human burial sites. 

Below Are Guidelines We Recommend All Archaeologists Follow:

  • Identify known human burial sites during your initial field review.
  • Obtain authorization from the Wisconsin Historical Society prior to working within the boundaries of a human burial site.  If you are planning to work within the boundaries of a catalogued burial site you should request authorization at least two months in advance of the planned project.
  • Follow Society and Wisconsin Archaeological Survey guidelines concerning the documentation of human burial sites.
  • If human bone is discovered during survey or excavation, you must report the discovery immediately.
    1. Notify the local police or sheriff's department so that they can document the discovery and confirm that it is not related to a missing persons or criminal case.
    2. Notify Kimberly Cook at the Wisconsin Historical Society at 800-342-7834 or 608-264-6493.
    3. Stop excavation at that location until you have received authorization from the Wisconsin Historical Society to continue. Limited authorization may be granted in order to determine whether or not the remains represent a human burial site or what type of burial site has been discovered.
  • Negotiate a contract with the Wisconsin Historical Society prior to exhuming remains from the burial site.

Learn More

See more articles about Human Burials, Mounds and Cemeteries

Have Questions?

To negotiate a contract to exhume human remains from an archaeological site, please contact Kimberly Cook at 608-264-6493 or by email below: