About the Wisconsin Historical Local and County Histories Collections | Wisconsin Historical Society

Resource Description

About Our Local and County Histories

About the Wisconsin Historical Local and County Histories Collections | Wisconsin Historical Society

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.

How Local and County Histories Are Organized

Research Tips

Every word is searchable in the histories, so you can search specific descriptions of people, places, and events.

Every volume can be downloaded to your own computer as a PDF file. Because many of these books are very large, be patient when opening or downloading them. If you need help, use the link at the bottom of every page.



Wisconsin County Histories: there is a digitized volume for each of the 72 counties in Wisconsin. Most are several hundred pages long and include detailed accounts of individual cities, townships and villages, as well as biographical stories of prominent residents. Most were published 1850-1920.

Wisconsin Local Histories: some books have been digitized through the Google Book project in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. These will be available as a link in the Library Catalog. See the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library Catalog for more information.


Hundreds of printed local and county histories are located in the Library's open stacks and on microfilm. Search the UW Library Catalog for titles and call numbers.

Checking Out Materials

Local histories generally do not circulate outside of the Library. A few circulating copies of Wisconsin community histories are on microfilm. These items are listed in the UW Library Catalog.

Purchasing Copies

Photocopies can be made by the Library Archives staff for a fee. If the material is still under copyright, only portions may be photocopied. The staff is unable to print entire publications or collections.

How to Cite

For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model.

Local or County History Book Citation
Richard Currier, "The Courier Family in America," (Bennington, VT: Family Press, 2002), p. 45.
Wisconsin County History Citation
Martin, Chas I., "History of Door County, Wisconsin. Together with biographies of nearly seven hundred families, and mention of 4,000 persons", 1895, Wisconsin Historical Society website.

Learn More

See more articles about researching your family history.

Have Questions?

Contact our Library and Archives staff by email.