Wisconsin Historical Society Visit Tips

The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) in Madison, Wis., has an outstanding family history collection with emphasis on the U.S. and Canada. It is considered one of the nation’s finest historical institutions and has the second largest newspaper collection after the Library of Congress. Located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, a visit to the WHS also affords access to many of the university’s specialized libraries.

The Society’s world-class collections contain an extraordinary range of artifacts and information about American history, from the remote archaeological past to current events. North American genealogy and Wisconsin history are particular collection strengths.

If this is your first visit to the WHS, CAGGNI believes you will find the following tips and suggestions helpful. Additionally, since knowledge of what to expect and preparation in advance promises a rewarding experience, we hope these tips will make your visit less stressful and even more successful.

Most of the information you will need is on the society’s website at www.wisconsinhistory.org. From the home page, scroll down to “Visit Us,” which will get you to links on accessibility, directions, copies, amenities and planning as well as the catalogs.  Some information is more readily available on the library’s website at http://historical.library.wisc.edu/

Getting there

  • Location: The Wisconsin Historical Society library is located at 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706; 1-608-264-6535.
  • Hours: The Library is open Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Sundays. The Archives is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; closed Sundays. From the society website click on the “Plan Your Visit” for the library or archives and click on the “Scheduled Closures.”  Dates in bold are closures. They observe many holidays. The other dates listed have restricted (no evening) hours.
  • Directions: For directions to the WHS check out “Directions” in the “Visiting Library” page on the society website.
  • Parking:  Also in “Directions” is a link to “Parking and Transportation.” For an interactive map use the library website. Click on “Location & Directions” and then click on the building icon. At the left you can click on “Parking” and locations will appear. Click on the parking icons for more information. Similar icon options can show you campus restaurants and other libraries.
  • Wheelchair accessibility: Wheelchair access ramps are located on the north side (Langdon Street) of the building. For more information see www.wisconsinhistory.org, click on “Library” and then “Accessibility.”

What to bring

Of course you will bring your personal research tools along with notepaper and writing utensils, but what else might be helpful?

  • Laptop: If you have a laptop, bring it along. The library has Wi-Fi, and you will be able to use your laptop to access the library’s extensive webpage and catalog without waiting for a library computer to become available.
  • Cable Lock: Since it is easy to get distracted, the library staff suggests you bring a laptop cable lock if you will be using your computer at the library.
  • Camera: The library allows the use of digital cameras to “copy” documents with some restrictions.
  • Scanner: You may also use your personal scanner – so bring your Flip-Pal along. Most items may be scanned, but the library has exceptions.
  • Flash drive: All public computers and scanners have USB ports. Information may be downloaded to your flash drive rather than using the online printer, however the library restricts some items from digital downloads.
  • Small paper pad: The library does not provide paper on which to jot notes and call numbers, so bring a small pad for your use.
Things to know – general
  • Reference librarians: In the center of the reading room is the reference desk. It is usually staffed with a librarian and student assistants. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance.
  • Photocopying:
    • Archives – cash $0.15 or copy card $0.10 per page (purchase copy card on 2nd floor), digital photography is allowed – fee is $15 minimum or $0.07 per copy whichever is more, and you are required to sign a photography agreement (see website).
    • Library – a flash drive can be used for free to copy printed materials at the self-service copiers or microform printers. Or purchase a copy card for $1 at the library reference desk.
    • Copies cost ($.07) per page for printed materials and ($.25) for microforms. Materials may also be saved to Google Docs or to a flash drive.
    • Note: During Spring 2015 the existing copy card system is being replaced. If you have old copy cards, they no longer will work.
  • Lockers: Ask at the circulation desk for access to the small lockers located behind the circulation desk wall. You will be provided a key for day. Lockers must be used in Archives.
  • Seating: There are no assigned seats so you may select any location in the reading room.
  • Electrical outlets:  There are ample outlets at all of the library tables.
  • Elevator: A self-operated elevator is available to access the stack areas. During the spring of 2015, renovation is planned to this elevator. However, other elevators will be accessible with the assistance of library staff.

 Things to know – electronic resources

  • Family history information: The WHS has a special section on its website for researching your family history, which provides search tips. Click on “Research Your Family History.” Also check out “Explore Our Collections.”
  • Online catalog: To search the holdings of the WHS, you must use the online catalog of the University of Wisconsin located at: http://search.library.wisc.edu/. You can easily get there through the catalog links from the society websites. Plans are underway during Spring 2015 to revise the methods of access to the online catalog. If you have problems using the online catalog, contact the library staff.
  • Archives catalog: There is a separate catalog for WHS’s archives that can be accessed online at: http://search.library.wisc.edu/. Use links on the society websites.
 
Unique and special collections at WHS
  • Local and county histories: The Wisconsin Historical Society has an extensive collection of local and county histories for Wisconsin as well as for the United States and Canada. County histories offer a rich information resource for genealogists. In addition to mentioning a number of families in the county, they also offer an overview of the region, the economic well-being of the area and general conditions of a community. In the late 1800s it was common for states, regions and counties in the United States to publish their histories. The Society has been collecting local and county histories since the 1850s.
  • Newspaper collection: The Society owns one of the nation’s largest collections of North American newspapers, with more than 11,000 bound volumes and 100,000 reels of microfilm as well as access to digital collections of newspapers dating back to the early 18th Century. Particular strengths include Wisconsin newspapers, colonial and early American newspapers west of the Appalachians and the largest collection of labor and trade union newspapers in the nation.
  • Periodical collection: The library maintains approximately 7,800 subscriptions to current periodicals on all aspects of American social and political life. Its retrospective holdings include virtually all American magazines of news and opinion published before 1860 and specialized periodicals published by abolitionist, ethnic, military, religious, radical/reform, labor and women’s organizations.
  • Maps and atlases: The Society owns more than 25,000 maps and atlases. The majority of them focus on Wisconsin, the Midwest, the United States and Canada. About 80 percent predate 1900. Examples of nearly every type of traditional cartographic medium can be found — from elaborate maps of Renaissance explorations to simple outline maps suitable for classroom use.
  • Wisconsin family history resources: Search over 3 million records, including birth, death and marriage record indexes; newspaper clippings; photographs and other visual material; and property records from National Register and State Register of Historic Places and the Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory (AHI)
  • Government documents – state and federal:  At the state level the society is charged with preservation of significant governmentally produced records and publications, similar to the IRAD system in Illinois. Some holdings will be at the various state universities throughout the state, while some will be held at the WHS. They also have a significate collection of items published by the United States government. Watch for location listings of “Historical Society Library U.S. Government Publications” and the “Historical Society Library Pamphlet Collection.”

 

Preparing for the visit from home

The WHS has created an excellent online presence and provides multiple ways to prepare for your visit from home. Take the time to explore each of these resources prior to your trip.

  • Instruction guide: Before you begin your research, check out WHS’ Getting Started Researching Your Family History by clicking on “Guides and Instructions” in the right hand column of the “Research Your Family History” home page.
  • Search the online catalog: The Society's library holdings are cataloged in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s library catalog and can be accessed at http://search.library.wisc.edu/.
  • Search the online archives catalog: You can search the Archives by going to the section “Search Our Catalogs” on WHS’s homepage and clicking on “Archives Catalog” or “Finding Aids.”
  • Ask questions in advance: If you have a particular questions about the holdings, click on the “Email Us Your Question” button on the home page and send an email or call a librarian at 608-264-6536.

If you take time to prepare in advance, you will have a more enjoyable visit. You will also have a much better chance of success.  Good hunting!                                                                                                                               

Additional resources:

Information/Policy Sheet

Parking Map

Wisconsin Historical Society Library Visit Tips

The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) in Madison, Wis., has an outstanding family history collection with emphasis on the U.S. and Canada. It is considered one of the nation’s finest historical institutions and has the second largest newspaper collection after the Library of Congress. Located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, a visit to the WHS also affords access to many of the university’s specialized libraries.

The Society’s world-class collections contain an extraordinary range of artifacts and information about American history, from the remote archaeological past to current events. North American genealogy and Wisconsin history are particular collection strengths.

If this is your first visit to the WHS, CAGGNI believes you will find the following tips and suggestions helpful. Additionally, since knowledge of what to expect and preparation in advance promises a rewarding experience, we hope these tips will make your visit less stressful and even more successful.

Most of the information you will need is on the society’s website at www.wisconsinhistory.org. From the home page, scroll down to “Visit Us,” which will get you to links on accessibility, directions, copies, amenities and planning as well as the catalogs.  Some information is more readily available on the library’s website at http://historical.library.wisc.edu/

Getting there

  • Location: The Wisconsin Historical Society library is located at 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706; 1-608-264-6535.
  • ·         Hours: The Library is open Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Sundays. The Archives is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; closed Sundays. From the society website click on the “Plan Your Visit” for the library or archives and click on the “Scheduled Closures.”  Dates in bold are closures. They observe many holidays. The other dates listed have restricted (no evening) hours.
  • ·         Directions: For directions to the WHS check out “Directions” in the “Visiting Library” page on the society website.
  • ·         Parking:  Also in “Directions” is a link to “Parking and Transportation.” For an interactive map use the library website. Click on “Location & Directions” and then click on the building icon. At the left you can click on “Parking” and locations will appear. Click on the parking icons for more information. Similar icon options can show you campus restaurants and other libraries.
  • ·         Wheelchair accessibility: Wheelchair access ramps are located on the north side (Langdon Street) of the building. For more information see www.wisconsinhistory.org, click on “Library” and then “Accessibility.”

What to bring

Of course you will bring your personal research tools along with notepaper and writing utensils, but what else might be helpful?

  • ·         Laptop: If you have a laptop, bring it along. The library has Wi-Fi, and you will be able to use your laptop to access the library’s extensive webpage and catalog without waiting for a library computer to become available.
  • ·         Cable Lock: Since it is easy to get distracted, the library staff suggests you bring a laptop cable lock if you will be using your computer at the library.
  • ·         Camera: The library allows the use of digital cameras to “copy” documents with some restrictions.
  • ·         Scanner: You may also use your personal scanner – so bring your Flip-Pal along. Most items may be scanned, but the library has exceptions.
  • ·         Flash drive: All public computers and scanners have USB ports. Information may be downloaded to your flash drive rather than using the online printer, however the library restricts some items from digital downloads.
  • ·         Small paper pad: The library does not provide paper on which to jot notes and call numbers, so bring a small pad for your use.
  •  
  • Things to know – general
  • ·         Reference librarians: In the center of the reading room is the reference desk. It is usually staffed with a librarian and student assistants. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance.

·         Photocopying: Onsite

v  Archives – cash $0.15 or copy card $0.10 per page (purchase copy card on 2nd floor), digital photography is allowed – fee is $15 minimum or $0.07 per copy whichever is more, and you are required to sign a photography agreement (see website).

v  Library – a flash drive can be used for free to copy printed materials at the self-service copiers or microform printers. Or purchase a copy card for $1 at the library reference desk.

v  Copies cost ($.07) per page for printed materials and ($.25) for microforms. Materials may also be saved to Google Docs or to a flash drive.

v  Note: During Spring 2015 the existing copy card system is being replaced. If you have old copy cards, they no longer will work.

  • ·         Lockers: Ask at the circulation desk for access to the small lockers located behind the circulation desk wall. You will be provided a key for day. Lockers must be used in Archives.
  • ·         Seating: There are no assigned seats so you may select any location in the reading room.
  • ·         Electrical outlets:  There are ample outlets at all of the library tables.
  • ·         Elevator: A self-operated elevator is available to access the stack areas. During the spring of 2015, renovation is planned to this elevator. However, other elevators will be accessible with the assistance of library staff.

 

  • Things to know – electronic resources
  • ·         Family history information: The WHS has a special section on its website for researching your family history, which provides search tips. Click on “Research Your Family History.” Also check out “Explore Our Collections.”
  • ·         Online catalog: To search the holdings of the WHS, you must use the online catalog of the University of Wisconsin located at: http://search.library.wisc.edu/. You can easily get there through the catalog links from the society websites. Plans are underway during Spring 2015 to revise the methods of access to the online catalog. If you have problems using the online catalog, contact the library staff.
  • ·         Archives catalog: There is a separate catalog for WHS’s archives that can be accessed online at: http://search.library.wisc.edu/. Use links on the society websites.
  •  
  • Unique and special collections at WHS
  • ·         Local and county histories: The Wisconsin Historical Society has an extensive collection of local and county histories for Wisconsin as well as for the United States and Canada. County histories offer a rich information resource for genealogists. In addition to mentioning a number of families in the county, they also offer an overview of the region, the economic well-being of the area and general conditions of a community. In the late 1800s it was common for states, regions and counties in the United States to publish their histories. The Society has been collecting local and county histories since the 1850s.
  • ·         Newspaper collection: The Society owns one of the nation’s largest collections of North American newspapers, with more than 11,000 bound volumes and 100,000 reels of microfilm as well as access to digital collections of newspapers dating back to the early 18th Century. Particular strengths include Wisconsin newspapers, colonial and early American newspapers west of the Appalachians and the largest collection of labor and trade union newspapers in the nation.
  • ·         Periodical collection: The library maintains approximately 7,800 subscriptions to current periodicals on all aspects of American social and political life. Its retrospective holdings include virtually all American magazines of news and opinion published before 1860 and specialized periodicals published by abolitionist, ethnic, military, religious, radical/reform, labor and women’s organizations.
  • ·         Maps and atlases: The Society owns more than 25,000 maps and atlases. The majority of them focus on Wisconsin, the Midwest, the United States and Canada. About 80 percent predate 1900. Examples of nearly every type of traditional cartographic medium can be found — from elaborate maps of Renaissance explorations to simple outline maps suitable for classroom use.
  • ·         Wisconsin family history resources: Search over 3 million records, including birth, death and marriage record indexes; newspaper clippings; photographs and other visual material; and property records from National Register and State Register of Historic Places and the Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory (AHI)
  • ·         Government documents – state and federal:  At the state level the society is charged with preservation of significant governmentally produced records and publications, similar to the IRAD system in Illinois. Some holdings will be at the various state universities throughout the state, while some will be held at the WHS. They also have a significate collection of items published by the United States government. Watch for location listings of “Historical Society Library U.S. Government Publications” and the “Historical Society Library Pamphlet Collection.”

 

Preparing for the visit from home

The WHS has created an excellent online presence and provides multiple ways to prepare for your visit from home. Take the time to explore each of these resources prior to your trip.

  • ·         Instruction guide: Before you begin your research, check out WHS’ Getting Started Researching Your Family History by clicking on “Guides and Instructions” in the right hand column of the “Research Your Family History” home page.
  • ·         Search the online catalog: The Society's library holdings are cataloged in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s library catalog and can be accessed at http://search.library.wisc.edu/.
  • ·         Search the online archives catalog: You can search the Archives by going to the section “Search Our Catalogs” on WHS’s homepage and clicking on “Archives Catalog” or “Finding Aids.”
  • ·         Ask questions in advance: If you have a particular questions about the holdings, click on the “Email Us Your Question” button on the home page and send an email or call a librarian at 608-264-6536.

If you take time to prepare in advance, you will have a more enjoyable visit. You will also have a much better chance of success.  Good hunting!                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                Feb. 1, 2015

Wisconsin Historical Society Library Visit Tips

The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) in Madison, Wis., has an outstanding family history collection with emphasis on the U.S. and Canada. It is considered one of the nation’s finest historical institutions and has the second largest newspaper collection after the Library of Congress. Located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, a visit to the WHS also affords access to many of the university’s specialized libraries.

The Society’s world-class collections contain an extraordinary range of artifacts and information about American history, from the remote archaeological past to current events. North American genealogy and Wisconsin history are particular collection strengths.

If this is your first visit to the WHS, CAGGNI believes you will find the following tips and suggestions helpful. Additionally, since knowledge of what to expect and preparation in advance promises a rewarding experience, we hope these tips will make your visit less stressful and even more successful.

Most of the information you will need is on the society’s website at www.wisconsinhistory.org. From the home page, scroll down to “Visit Us,” which will get you to links on accessibility, directions, copies, amenities and planning as well as the catalogs.  Some information is more readily available on the library’s website at http://historical.library.wisc.edu/

Getting there

  • Location: The Wisconsin Historical Society library is located at 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706; 1-608-264-6535.
  • ·         Hours: The Library is open Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Sundays. The Archives is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; closed Sundays. From the society website click on the “Plan Your Visit” for the library or archives and click on the “Scheduled Closures.”  Dates in bold are closures. They observe many holidays. The other dates listed have restricted (no evening) hours.
  • ·         Directions: For directions to the WHS check out “Directions” in the “Visiting Library” page on the society website.
  • ·         Parking:  Also in “Directions” is a link to “Parking and Transportation.” For an interactive map use the library website. Click on “Location & Directions” and then click on the building icon. At the left you can click on “Parking” and locations will appear. Click on the parking icons for more information. Similar icon options can show you campus restaurants and other libraries.
  • ·         Wheelchair accessibility: Wheelchair access ramps are located on the north side (Langdon Street) of the building. For more information see www.wisconsinhistory.org, click on “Library” and then “Accessibility.”

What to bring

Of course you will bring your personal research tools along with notepaper and writing utensils, but what else might be helpful?

  • ·         Laptop: If you have a laptop, bring it along. The library has Wi-Fi, and you will be able to use your laptop to access the library’s extensive webpage and catalog without waiting for a library computer to become available.
  • ·         Cable Lock: Since it is easy to get distracted, the library staff suggests you bring a laptop cable lock if you will be using your computer at the library.
  • ·         Camera: The library allows the use of digital cameras to “copy” documents with some restrictions.
  • ·         Scanner: You may also use your personal scanner – so bring your Flip-Pal along. Most items may be scanned, but the library has exceptions.
  • ·         Flash drive: All public computers and scanners have USB ports. Information may be downloaded to your flash drive rather than using the online printer, however the library restricts some items from digital downloads.
  • ·         Small paper pad: The library does not provide paper on which to jot notes and call numbers, so bring a small pad for your use.
  •  
  • Things to know – general
  • ·         Reference librarians: In the center of the reading room is the reference desk. It is usually staffed with a librarian and student assistants. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance.

·         Photocopying: Onsite

v  Archives – cash $0.15 or copy card $0.10 per page (purchase copy card on 2nd floor), digital photography is allowed – fee is $15 minimum or $0.07 per copy whichever is more, and you are required to sign a photography agreement (see website).

v  Library – a flash drive can be used for free to copy printed materials at the self-service copiers or microform printers. Or purchase a copy card for $1 at the library reference desk.

v  Copies cost ($.07) per page for printed materials and ($.25) for microforms. Materials may also be saved to Google Docs or to a flash drive.

v  Note: During Spring 2015 the existing copy card system is being replaced. If you have old copy cards, they no longer will work.

  • ·         Lockers: Ask at the circulation desk for access to the small lockers located behind the circulation desk wall. You will be provided a key for day. Lockers must be used in Archives.
  • ·         Seating: There are no assigned seats so you may select any location in the reading room.
  • ·         Electrical outlets:  There are ample outlets at all of the library tables.
  • ·         Elevator: A self-operated elevator is available to access the stack areas. During the spring of 2015, renovation is planned to this elevator. However, other elevators will be accessible with the assistance of library staff.

 

  • Things to know – electronic resources
  • ·         Family history information: The WHS has a special section on its website for researching your family history, which provides search tips. Click on “Research Your Family History.” Also check out “Explore Our Collections.”
  • ·         Online catalog: To search the holdings of the WHS, you must use the online catalog of the University of Wisconsin located at: http://search.library.wisc.edu/. You can easily get there through the catalog links from the society websites. Plans are underway during Spring 2015 to revise the methods of access to the online catalog. If you have problems using the online catalog, contact the library staff.
  • ·         Archives catalog: There is a separate catalog for WHS’s archives that can be accessed online at: http://search.library.wisc.edu/. Use links on the society websites.
  •  
  • Unique and special collections at WHS
  • ·         Local and county histories: The Wisconsin Historical Society has an extensive collection of local and county histories for Wisconsin as well as for the United States and Canada. County histories offer a rich information resource for genealogists. In addition to mentioning a number of families in the county, they also offer an overview of the region, the economic well-being of the area and general conditions of a community. In the late 1800s it was common for states, regions and counties in the United States to publish their histories. The Society has been collecting local and county histories since the 1850s.
  • ·         Newspaper collection: The Society owns one of the nation’s largest collections of North American newspapers, with more than 11,000 bound volumes and 100,000 reels of microfilm as well as access to digital collections of newspapers dating back to the early 18th Century. Particular strengths include Wisconsin newspapers, colonial and early American newspapers west of the Appalachians and the largest collection of labor and trade union newspapers in the nation.
  • ·         Periodical collection: The library maintains approximately 7,800 subscriptions to current periodicals on all aspects of American social and political life. Its retrospective holdings include virtually all American magazines of news and opinion published before 1860 and specialized periodicals published by abolitionist, ethnic, military, religious, radical/reform, labor and women’s organizations.
  • ·         Maps and atlases: The Society owns more than 25,000 maps and atlases. The majority of them focus on Wisconsin, the Midwest, the United States and Canada. About 80 percent predate 1900. Examples of nearly every type of traditional cartographic medium can be found — from elaborate maps of Renaissance explorations to simple outline maps suitable for classroom use.
  • ·         Wisconsin family history resources: Search over 3 million records, including birth, death and marriage record indexes; newspaper clippings; photographs and other visual material; and property records from National Register and State Register of Historic Places and the Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory (AHI)
  • ·         Government documents – state and federal:  At the state level the society is charged with preservation of significant governmentally produced records and publications, similar to the IRAD system in Illinois. Some holdings will be at the various state universities throughout the state, while some will be held at the WHS. They also have a significate collection of items published by the United States government. Watch for location listings of “Historical Society Library U.S. Government Publications” and the “Historical Society Library Pamphlet Collection.”

 

Preparing for the visit from home

The WHS has created an excellent online presence and provides multiple ways to prepare for your visit from home. Take the time to explore each of these resources prior to your trip.

  • ·         Instruction guide: Before you begin your research, check out WHS’ Getting Started Researching Your Family History by clicking on “Guides and Instructions” in the right hand column of the “Research Your Family History” home page.
  • ·         Search the online catalog: The Society's library holdings are cataloged in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s library catalog and can be accessed at http://search.library.wisc.edu/.
  • ·         Search the online archives catalog: You can search the Archives by going to the section “Search Our Catalogs” on WHS’s homepage and clicking on “Archives Catalog” or “Finding Aids.”
  • ·         Ask questions in advance: If you have a particular questions about the holdings, click on the “Email Us Your Question” button on the home page and send an email or call a librarian at 608-264-6536.

If you take time to prepare in advance, you will have a more enjoyable visit. You will also have a much better chance of success.  Good hunting!                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                Feb. 1, 2015

Copyright, Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois

CAGGNI, P.O. Box 59567, Schaumburg, IL 60159-0567, webmaster@caggni.org

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