Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Wisconsin Municipal Records Manual

The Little Orange Book

Wisconsin Municipal Records Manual | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Municipal Records Manual is designed to assist public officials in Wisconsin's cities, villages, and towns in the administration of current public records and in the disposition of non-current materials. It provides an overview of records management practices and recommendations for the retention and disposition of public records.

This is an electronic version of what is popularly known as "the little orange book." The Manual was first published in 1980. It is now out of print, however, it still may be used. In particular, the retention and disposal schedules found in Part II have been approved by the Public Records Board and are still valid. Be aware that local governments are required to notify the Wisconsin Historical Society prior to the destruction of any record, including those listed in this manual. Find more information on the notification procedure.

To use the Manual, begin by consulting the Table of Contents below. Each chapter is a separate Adobe Acrobat PDF file. You may also download the complete manual at the bottom of this page. Government entities may reproduce all or part of the Wisconsin Municipal Records Manual for their records management use. Note: Appendix D through F have been removed due to out-of-date material.

Wisconsin Municipal Records Manual Table of Contents

Management of Municipal Records

Introduction and Acknowledgements

I.Public Records Statutes
II.Municipal Records Management
III.Retention and Disposition of Municipal Records
V.Sources for Additional Assistance (updated)
Retention and Disposition Schedules
VI.  Administration
VII.  Elections
VIII.  Finance
IX.  Revenue
X.  Engineering and Public Works
XI.  Public Health
Appendix A.Sample Ordinance for the Destruction of Obsolete Records
Appendix B.Records Inventory Worksheet
Appendix C.Sample Letter of Notification of Intent to Destroy Records
Appendix G.Wisconsin Historical Society Area Research Center Network
Appendix H.List of Illustrations

Have Questions?

With questions about the retention and disposition of municipal records, contact Andrew Baraniak, Local Government Records Archivist, at (608) 264-6469, or at the email below.