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Local Government Records | Wisconsin Historical Society

Resource Description

Local Government Records

Local Government Records | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society has statutory responsibility to collect, maintain and make available for use permanently valuable records of Wisconsin's local governments, school districts and courts. Records that are transferred become the property of the Society, meaning that it is our responsibility to provide public access as described in open records laws.

If you work for a local government and would like more information about the Local Government Records Program, visit the Local Government Records Program page.

Holdings (general)

The following are general types of record series held by the Wisconsin Historical Society. This is not an exhaustive list. Researchers are encouraged to contact the Reference Desk with specific questions regarding holdings.

  • County Board and Common Council proceedings
  • County and municipal ordinances and resolutions
  • Tax and assessment rolls
  • Land deeds
  • Naturalization records
  • School district and school board reports
  • Court case files (criminal, civil, family and divorce)
  • Probate case files and wills

Pre-1907 birth, death and marriage records are available in the Society Library and at Area Research Centers.

Public Access

Local government records in the Society's holdings (with the exception of some restricted or confidential records) are open to the public.

All holdings are stored at either the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison or at one of the participating archives within the Area Research Center Network (ARCs). Records that originated in the counties of Dane, Sauk, or Columbia are housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison. Local government records that originate from other counties are assigned to the specific ARC that covers that particular geographic region. Records located in Madison can be accessed by visiting the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Archives Reading Room. If you plan on visiting an ARC, please contact them specifically for hours of operation.

The majority of records held by the Society can circulate within the ARC network. In addition, records in microform are available for interlibrary loan.

Click here for learn more about visiting the Archives Reading Room

Click here to learn more about the Area Research Center Network

 Fees and Services

There are no fees or service charges for in-person access to public records held by the Society. Please refer to the Society's policies and procedures for purchasing copies. Please note that if you are accessing public records at an Area Research Center, fees and policies may vary slightly. 

Search for Local Government Records Online

To search for local government records in the custody of the Wisconsin Historical Society, use the Library Catalog.



Have Questions?

If you have specific reference questions, contact the Archives Reading Room by email