Your Guide to Finding Wisconsin Ancestors

Postal Code: WI Abbreviation Wisc.
State Capital: Madison
Earliest settlement: 1766
Became part of U.S. 1783
1787 part of Northwest Territory
1800 part of Indiana Territory
1809 part of Illinois Territory
1818 part of Michigan Territory
1836 Territory of Wisconsin
Admitted as the 30th state in 1848
First mostly extant federal census: 1840
Statewide birth, death and marriage registration began 1907 (some earlier records in counties)
Public-land state.

Books, articles, CD's, Tapes etc.
On the Web.

Handybook for Genealogists (10th or 11th edition) and/or Ancestry's Redbook (you'll want the 3rd edition) and/or Family Tree Resource Book For Genealogists section on Wisconsin includes maps, historical information, vital records coverage and a bibliography of resources,

Ancestry's Wisconsin Fact Sheet

Darby. Genealogical Research: An Introduction to the Resources of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1986 (out of print) -- this might be superseded by the title directly below.

Genealogical Guide to the State Historical Society of Madison and other U-W Libraries

Herrick. Wisconsin Genealogical Research (1996)

Herrick & Uncapher. Cemetery Locations in Wisconsin (2002)

Oehlerts. Guide to Wisconsin Newspapers 1833-1957. (1958)

Ryan. Searching for Your Wisconsin Ancestors in the Wisconsin Libraries (2001)

Uncapher & Herric. Wisconsin: Its Counties, Townships and Villages.

Wilson. Genealogical Guide to...

1873/74 Map of Wisconsin
1881 Map of Wisconsin
Used Wisconsin Plat Books

Audio-tapes of lectured given at genealogy conferences with the word Wisconsin in the tite.



Family History Library

First, bookmark or print out these FHL documents:

Use the catalog at the FHL to find out what has been filmed covering the Wisconsin ; Click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the county you are researching and once there click View Related Places in the upper right to find sources that have been filmed for the township or city. You will want to check for resources in all three jurisdictions, although most people check the county holdings first, township next and state last.


Sites with user contributed materials for the various counties in the state:

Visit the websites of these libraries , archives and societies:

The best resource for Wisconsin research is the Wisconsin Historical Society. Their Genealogy Page will get you started and the Library and Archives page will let you discover what they have. Notice there are two catalogs on this site: one for the library and one for the archives. You can search the archive's finding aids, which are fairly detailed descriptions of collections that are found in the archives and often contain personal names. They offer a research service which might meet your needs at a reasonable price. See also the descriptions of holdings at various regional area research centers. Among other resources, naturalization records are kept at the regional area centers. You will want to want to spend quite a bit of time exploring this helpful site.

The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society also has a helpful web page. They provide an index to the cemetery readings published in the WSGS Newsletter (names the cemteries, not the inhabitants) and an Index to Wisconsin Delayed and Affidavit Birth Registrations Prior to 1 October 1907 (read the intro, then click the bright blue "here" button at the top of the page to search)

To find local genealogy societies, see the Wisconsin Genealogy Society Directory

Cemetery records

Census records

In addition to federal census records, there are state census schedules for Wisconsin. The 1880 census can be searched for free at Find other online census records and more census information at's Wisconsin links.

County Histories

There are indexes to several Wisconsin town and county histories available online.

Land Records

Military Records

Finding Your Civil War Ancestors in Wisconsin


Find out about newspapers at the website of the Wisconsin Newspaper Project . Or if what you want is an obituary, there may be an obituary lookup volunteer in Wisconsin who can help youl.

Vital Records

To get information about vital records, check the Wisconsin Vital Records (official page) or the Vitalrec Wisconsin Page. See also Online Wisconsin Death Records & Indexes to locate material online.

Finally, check out Wisconsin Black Sheep Ancestors

Get Help ...

Leave a query on a Wisconsin county message board or see if one of the volunteers at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness: Wisconsin can help you.

Now look for more helpful Wisconsin links:
* Genealogy Today's State Gen Site: Wisconsin
Rootsweb: U.S. Resources: Wisconsin
* Genealink's Wisconsin Page
* Access Genealogy's List of Wisconsin Links
* Cyndi's List Wisconsin Page
* Linkpendium's Wisconsin Page

Return to Bobbie's Genealogy Classroom

This page last updated March 10, 2008