Wisconsin Historical Society

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Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS)
Wisconsin Historical Society logo.gif
Agency overview
Formed 1846
Jurisdiction Wisconsin
Headquarters 816 State Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
Agency executive Ellsworth H. Brown, Ruth and Hartley Baker Director
Parent agency State of Wisconsin
Website http://www.wisconsinhistory.org

The Wisconsin Historical Society (officially the State Historical Society of Wisconsin) is simultaneously a state agency and a private membership organization whose purpose is to maintain, promote and spread knowledge relating to the history of North America, with an emphasis on the state of Wisconsin and the trans-Allegheny West. Founded in 1846 and chartered in 1853, it is the oldest historical society in the United States to receive continuous public funding.[1][2] The society's headquarters are located in Madison, Wisconsin, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has occupied this building in Madison designed by Ferry & Clas since 1900.

Organization[edit]

The Wisconsin Historical Society is organized into four divisions: the Division of Library-Archives, the Division of Museums and Historic Sites, the Division of Historic Preservation-Public History, and the Division of Administrative Services.

Division of Library-Archives[edit]

The library reading room.

The Division of Library-Archives collects and maintains books and documents about the history of Wisconsin, the United States, and Canada. The society's library and archives, which together serve as the library of American history for the University of Wisconsin–Madison, contain nearly four million items, making the society's collection the largest in the world dedicated exclusively to North American history.[3][4] The Wisconsin Historical Society's extensive newspaper collection is the second largest in the United States after the Library of Congress.[5][6][7]

The society's archives also serve as the official repository for state and local government records.[1] The society coordinates an Area Research Center Network, an alliance between the Historical Society in Madison and four-year campuses of the University of Wisconsin System throughout the state, to make most of the archival collections accessible to state residents.

Division of Museums and Historic Sites[edit]

The Division of Museums and Historic Sites operates the Wisconsin Historical Museum in downtown Madison and 11 historic sites throughout the state. The museum has an archaeology program in collaboration with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources that undertakes research, and collects and preserves historical artifacts.[8] The other historic sites are tourist attractions that display historic buildings reflecting Wisconsin history and provide exhibitions and demonstrations of state history, such as ethnic settlement, mining, farming, fur trading, transportation, and pioneering life.

Villa Louis Historic Site, Prairie du Chien, which is operated by the Society
Historic Site Location
Black Point Estate Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Circus World Museum Baraboo, Wisconsin
First Capitol Belmont, Wisconsin
H. H. Bennett Studio Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Madeline Island Museum La Pointe, Wisconsin
Old World Wisconsin Eagle, Wisconsin
Pendarvis Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Reed School Neillsville, Wisconsin
Stonefield Cassville, Wisconsin
Sylvanus Wade House Greenbush, Wisconsin
Villa Louis Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

Division of Historic Preservation-Public History[edit]

The Division of Historic Preservation-Public History administers the state's historic preservation program,[1] the state’s burial sites preservation program, and the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, which publishes books on Wisconsin and American history and a quarterly magazine, the Wisconsin Magazine of History. The division also provides outreach to local historical societies.

Division of Administrative Services[edit]

The Division of Administrative Services provides support and planning for the WHS and its divisions.

The society's website include a large, searchable collection of historical images and a vast digital archive containing thousands of scanned documents relating to Wisconsin history.

Wisconsin Historical Society employees are employees of the State of Wisconsin.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (1985). "The Executive Branch". State of Wisconsin 1985-1986 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. p. 460. Founded in 1846 and chartered in 1853, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin is the nation's oldest historical society to receive continuing grants of state funds 
  2. ^ About page at the Wisconsin Historical Society website.
  3. ^ "Bucerius Seminar 2005: American History and American Archives". German Historical Institute Bulletin (German Historical Institute) (38): 139. Spring 2006. Retrieved 10 April 2010. the Wisconsin Historical Society, which is impressive both as a building and as an institution. It is the largest library for American history, it functions as a state archive, it is the premier place to do research on Wisconsin 
  4. ^ "Wisconsin Historical Society" at www.madison.com.
  5. ^ Cates, Jo A. (2004). Journalism: A Guide to the Reference Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing. p. 251. 
  6. ^ Newspapers for Genealogy from the Wisconsin Historical Society
  7. ^ Newspaper & Periodicals Collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society
  8. ^ Wisconsin Historical Society. About the Division of Museums and Historic Sites".
  9. ^ WHS job announcement from 2010

External links[edit]