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Wisconsin Genealogy Resources

Manuscript Collections

Manuscripts - Manuscript collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society are extensive. Genealogists must be diligent and imaginative in using these sources. A sampling of collections and access tools is listed below.

  • Draper Manuscripts. Collected in the nineteenth century by Lyman Copeland Draper. The variety of the collection includes correspondence, interview notes, extracts from newspapers and other published sources, muster rolls, and transcripts of offcial documents and research notes for the western Carolinas and Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, the entire Ohio River valley, and parts of the Mississippi River valley. The collection is available on 134 reels of microfilm, which is owned by numerous libraries in the country. To access the collection, consult Josephine L. Harper, Guide to the Draper Manuscripts. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1983.
  • Grignon, Lawe, and Porlier Papers (1712-1884). Includes some of the oldest Wisconsin documents. The sixty-five volumes contain the business, personal, and official papers and correspondence of three early Green Baby families that were involved in the fur-trading industry.
  • Patterson, Betty, ed. Some Pioneer Families of Wisconsin, An Index. 3 vols. A Bicentennial Project of the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society, Madison, Wisconsin, 1977, 1987, and 2001. It is a collection of indexes of application for pioneer or century certificates. The indexes include the following, if available: name of ancestor, birth date and place, death date, name of spouse, county of residence, and name of applicant. Supporting documentation for volumes one and two is in the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society and is accessible to researches. Documentation for volume three is available through the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society. Both societies provide photocopies by mail for a fee.
  • Pioneers of Southeastern Wisconsin Collections, A-I , J-R , S-Z  - University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
  • Smith, Alice E., ed. Guide to the Manuscripts of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1944, 1957.
  • The Territorial Papers of the United States: the Territory of Wisconsin, 1836-1848: a Microfilm Supplement. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1959. - On 122 FHL films beginning with 1601731. Has a few court records for 1836-1848; Bureau of Indian Affairs records 1836-1848; appointments of postmasters 1836-1848; maps 1836-1848; records of lighthouses and customs, and many other governmental records.
  • University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Guide to Archives and Manuscripts in the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Area Research Center. Rev. ed. Green Bay, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Area Research Center, 1992.
  • White, Bruce M. The Fur Trade in Minnesota: An Introductory Guide to Manuscript Sources. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society, 1977. An excellent index to all fur trade manuscripts.
  • Wisconsin. State Historical Society. Guide to Archives and Manuscripts in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Area Research Center. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1990.
  • WPA Life Histories from Wisconsin  - Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940, Library of Congress