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Research

Historians try to find a variety of sources to help them understand the past, including primary and secondary sources. Both of these types of sources are important to a good History Day project and there are many different places that you can begin looking for them.

Visit a Research Institution in Wisconsin
The first step in your research should be visiting your school or local library. Librarians and reference staff can help you to find the resources to need to begin your project. As you move into more advanced research, you will need to look in places with more scholarly materials to investigate. Below are links to just a few of the many research institutions that Wisconsin History Day students have used in the past. Remember, when planning research at an archive, define your research goals and contact the archivist before your visit to make sure that the archive has the kind of materials you want to see.

  • Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives in Madison
    Did you know that one of the top American history libraries in the world is located right in our own state, at the Wisconsin Historical Society? If you're researching an American or Wisconsin-oriented topic, there's probably something for you in the WHS stacks.
  • University of Wisconsin System Libraries
    College and university libraries will likely have more resources than your school or public library. This web site will link you to the online catalogs for schools in the UW System. You can try searching for your topic in their online catalog or you can visit the library in person. Make sure to talk to librarians and reference staff for help in learning how to search the catalog and about other subscription services you may be able to access while on campus.
  • Directory of Local Historical Societies in Wisconsin
    Local historical societies can often offer unique and fascinating resources for community history topics, but keep in mind that they vary widely in size, seasonal hours, and the extent of their collections. Use this directory of contact information to find out more about local organizations in your county or region.
  • The Chippewa Valley Museum (Eau Claire)
    Check out the Chippewa Valley Museum if you're researching a topic related to the logging industry or rural life in Northwest Wisconsin.
  • The Wisconsin Maritime Museum (Manitowoc)
    The WMM's archival collections will be valuable for students researching our state's maritime history, particularly early shipbuilding, the lives of Great Lakes sailors, and WWII-era submarine production.
  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum (Madison)
    For students researching military history, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and Research Center is a great place to find a Wisconsin perspective on a national topic. Before you go, check out their collections online through WISCAT.
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