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Wisconsin Historical Society Finding Aids Summary

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About the collection

The Wisconsin Historical Society, founded in 1846, has accepted manuscript collections since its early days, is the legal repository for Wisconsin local government records, and has served as the official archives for the State of Wisconsin's records since 1947. In addition to collections documenting Wisconsin history, national focus areas include:

  • Film and Theater Collections
  • Labor History Collections
  • Mass Communications Collections
  • McCormick-International Harvester Collection
  • Social Action Collections
  • Trans-Allegheny Frontier (Draper Manuscripts)

The WHS Library-Archives Division ( holds almost 100,000 cubic feet of archival materials available to researchers. ArCat, the Archives' catalog (, contains brief descriptions of everything in the Archives' custody (except for maps and some photograph and film collections not cataloged yet).

Not every WHS collection has a finding aid like those on this site. Generally, only collections more than 1-2 boxes in size have finding aids. The finding aid usually is designated a "register" and typically includes background information on the creator of the records, a summary of the collection, and a contents list (usually at the box and folder level). Some finding aids are just box and folder (reel and frame, etc.) listings. As of December 2009, just under 4500 finding aids for WHS collections are available on this site and more are being added regularly.

© This compilation (including design, introductory text, organization, and descriptive material) is copyrighted by University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

This copyright is independent of any copyright on specific items within the collection. Because the University of Wisconsin Libraries generally do not own the rights to materials in these collections, please consult copyright or ownership information provided with individual items.

Images, text, or other content downloaded from the collection may be freely used for non-profit educational and research purposes, or any other use falling within the purview of "Fair Use". Information reguarding the 'fair use' policy may be accessed at:

In all other cases, please consult the terms provided with the item, consult the Univeristy of Wisconsin Libraries permissions page ( or contact the Libraries at