COVID-19 Updates: The Wisconsin Historical Society hours have changed. See a full list of COVID-19 Closures and Events HERE.

Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

COVID-19 Closures and Event Updates

COVID-19 Closures and Event Updates | Wisconsin Historical Society

To protect your safety and ours, options for accessing our buildings and services have changed. Please see the below sections for information on our current operations.

Wisconsin Historical Society Sites and Museums

As of July 1, 2020, nine of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s historic sites and museums are open for in-person, reservation-based special tours and programs! Under the guidance of the Badger Bounce Back - State Government Edition, all locations offering programs will implement visitation protocols that will allow for unique historical experiences while prioritizing the health and safety of our staff and guests. Visit wisconsinhistory.org/sites for the full list of programs and tours.

All events and programs have limited capacity and will require an advanced reservation. Check each event listing for details on how to register over the phone. Read this "Know Before You Go" document before you visit one of the historic sites.

We are committed to the safety of our guests and staff and will continue to monitor the situation. All updates may change without notice and will be communicated out via email, this page and social media.

 

Library and Archives

We currently have two options for accessing our collections: by pick-up (for certain items) and by appointment. Please continue reading for information on these options.

Pick-Up Access to Collections

The Wisconsin Historical Society Library is now fulfilling requested items from the library for those who have a UW-Madison ID or a Wisconsin Historical Society library card. 

To request items patrons should visit the library’s catalog at library.wisc.edu and request the item they need. All items that are available will be listed as “requestable”. Patrons will pick up items at the UW - Madison Memorial Library and not at the Wisconsin Historical Society Library.

For questions, please contact the library directly at asklibrary@wisconsinhistory.org.

We appreciate everyone’s continued support and patience. For questions and FAQs regarding library services please visit here. You can also email questions to our library and archives staff at asklibrary@wisconsinhistory.org or askarchives@wisconsinhistory.org

Appointment Access to the Library and Archives

The Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives will be opening its reading rooms to researchers in a limited and controlled capacity starting July 21, 2020.

Appointment hours:

Library—9am-noon, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Archives—9am-noon and 1-4pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Please continue reading for information on what to expect during your visit, what services are available, and how to request an appointment.

When you schedule your appointment (information below on how to do this), please be sure to schedule in the location you would like to visit (i.e. schedule at the library for a library visit). If you are not sure which location to make an appointment at, please reach out to asklibrary@wisconsinhistory.org for us to assist you.

Before your visit 
  • For the safety of the library and archives staff and researchers, only four researchers will be allowed in the Archives Reading Room at a time and only ten researchers will be allowed in the Library at a time.
  • To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, face masks or face coverings are required to enter the Wisconsin Historical Society building.
  • We also request that you practice physical distancing of six feet apart while in the building.
  • Appointments must be made with at least one week’s notice for the Archives Reading Room. If you need an exception, contact us email askarchives@wisconsinhistory.org. Do not travel to the library or archives if you have not received a confirmation email.
  • Remember to bring a photo ID to enter the building.
  • If you are not feeling well, please respect everyone's safety and email our staff to cancel or reschedule your appointment.
The day of your visit

Visiting the Library and Archives Reading Room 

Upon arrival at the Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters building at 816 State Street for your appointment, please follow these directions:

  • Please bring a photo ID.
  • Arrive within the first 30 minutes of your appointment time. For example, if your appointment is at 9:00 am you will need to arrive by 9:30 am.
  • Enter at the Langdon Street entrance on the north side of the building across from Memorial Union.
    • Approach the door and someone will greet you and ask for your ID and appointment time.
    • If there is a line, please wait in line adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Archives

Appointment Hours

9am-noon and 1-4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Archives Reading Room Services available

All reading room services are contingent upon availability of staff and all building services may not be supported.

During your appointment you will be able to:

  • view materials in reading room at designated tables
  • use your own camera or mobile device to take photos for research purposes
  • have limited computer access (we encourage you to bring your own device to limit contact with shared computers)
  • request duplication services by WHS staff for a fee

At this time, we are NOT able to provide:

  • paging of archival materials on demand (all materials must be retrieved in advance of your visit)
  • self-service scanning (you may use your own camera or mobile device)
How to schedule an appointment for visiting WHS Archives

Appointments for visiting the WHS Archives Reading Room must be made at least one week in advance. You may schedule your appointment at the Archives using our new appointment system - see the Library section below for information on how to schedule an appointment at the Library. 

Schedule Here

You will receive an email message confirming your appointment that includes information and instructions.

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment, you will need to request the materials you want to see by using our catalog at library.wisc.edu.

If you haven’t already done so, you will be prompted to complete an online registration. If you are not sure how to request materials, or are not sure what materials you will need, our staff is available to help. To contact us email askarchives@wisconsinhistory.org.

Please do not come to the Archives without an appointment or before requesting materials through our catalog at library.wisc.edu. We are doing everything we can to meet physical distancing guidelines and to reduce the need for contact among our staff and guests.

The use of some materials, such as film, audio and microfilm, may require more lead time to prepare. Consequently, we may have to reschedule some appointments.

Our staff is available to help you with this process or to answer any questions you may have. To contact us email askarchives@wisconsinhistory.org.

Onsite guidelines for the WHS Archives 

  • Please bring a photo ID. You will need to present this card upon entering the Archives Reading Room. You will be asked to show your ID from a safe distance so staff can verify your registration information. 
  • Please bring your own mobile device to avoid use of public computers. 
  • Due to COVID 19 and the need for social distancing, you will not be allowed to use our self-service scanners. However, you may use your own camera or mobile device to take photos of materials for research purposes.
  • Face masks or coverings are required of both visitors and staff.
  • Please wash your hands after arriving. Hand sanitizer will be available for use. If you use hand sanitizer, please rinse your hands thoroughly before handling collection materials, as the residue may cause damage.
  • We will ask you to place your belongings in a designated locker.
  • Researchers may bring into the reading room only silenced cell phones, digital cameras, pencils, and laptops or tablets without cases. Power cords and headphones for electronic equipment are permitted.
  • Please bring your own water to be stored in your locker. 
  • Social distancing will be practiced at all times during your visit. Please observe any floor markings that indicate safe distances.
  • You will be assigned a table that is distanced from the staff and other researchers.
  • Shared surfaces are regularly disinfected.
  • Materials will be quarantined as appropriate.
  • Researchers will only wear gloves when working with photographs and metal objects.

Library

Appointment Hours

9am-noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Library Reading Room Services available

All reading room services are contingent upon availability of staff and all building services may not be supported.

During your appointment you will be able to:

  • browse the entire library collection
  • view materials in the reading room at designated tables
  • use your own camera or mobile device to take photos for research purposes
  • have limited computer access (we encourage you to bring your own device to limit contact with shared computers)
  • page library materials on demand
  • have limited access to self-service scanning
  • have limited access to microfilm readers/scanners if requested in advance

At this time, we are NOT able to provide:

  • study space if not using library collections
  • onsite research assistance
How to schedule an appointment for visiting WHS Library

You may schedule your appointment at the Library using our new appointment system - see the Archives section abovefor information on how to schedule an appointment at the Archives. 

Schedule Here

You will receive an email message confirming your appointment that includes information and instructions. There are limited microfilm readers available, so please request the use of these in advance when you make your appointment.

Please do not come to the Library without an appointment.  Our staff is available to help you with this process or to answer any questions you may have. To contact us email asklibrary@wisconsinhistory.org.

Onsite guidelines for the WHS Library

  • Please bring a photo ID.  You will need your your WisCard or WHS Library card to check out materials.
  • Please bring your own mobile device to avoid use of public computers, however there will be limited access to public computers in the Library Reading Room.
  • You may use your own camera or mobile device to take photos of materials for research purposes, however there will be limited access to self-service scanners.
  • Face masks or coverings are required of both visitors and staff.
  • Please wash your hands after arriving. Hand sanitizer will be available for use. If you use hand sanitizer, please rinse your hands thoroughly before handling collection materials, as the residue may cause damage.
  • Social distancing will be practiced at all times during your visit. Please observe any floor markings that indicate safe distances.
  • You will be assigned a table that is distanced from the staff and other researchers.
  • Shared surfaces are regularly disinfected.
  • Materials will be quarantined as appropriate.

Historic Preservation

Appointment hours:

Archaeological Site Files and Archaeological Reports (SHPO only): Tuesdays 9am-noon, 1pm – 3pm. Requests for archeological research appointments must be submitted by 4pm Thursday the previous week.  Contact amy.rosebrough@wisconsinhistory.org

Architectural Files, NRHP files, and Building/Architectural Survey Materials:  Thursdays 9am-noon, 1pm – 3pm.  Requests for architectural and NRHP research must be in by 4pm Tuesday prior.    Contact Ian.Gort@WisconsinHistory.Org or Leah.Penzkover@WiscosinHistory.Org

Please continue reading for information on what to expect during your visit, what services are available, and how to request an appointment. 

Please note that there is no access to the copy room. Notes or scans will have to be made with the consultant’s equipment, i.e. laptop or phone. All appointment requests must be accompanied by a full list of requested materials. Staff will not pull materials on the day of their visit. Access to files and scheduling is subject to staff availability.

Before your visit 

  • For the safety of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), only one consultant will be allowed in the SHPO Huddle Room at a time.
  • To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, face masks or face coverings are required to enter the Wisconsin Historical Society building.
  • We also request that you practice physical distancing of six feet apart while in the building.
  • Appointments must be confirmed. Do not travel to the Wisconsin Historical Society Headquarters if you have not received a confirmation email.
  • Remember to bring a photo ID to enter the building.
  • If you are not feeling well, please respect everyone's safety and email our staff to cancel or reschedule your appointment.

The day of your visit

Visiting the SHPO Research Room

Upon arrival at the Wisconsin Historical Society headquarters building at 816 State Street for your appointment, please follow these directions:

  • Entry will be at the Langdon Street entrance by the UW Memorial Union. 
  • Please bring a photo ID.
  • When you arrive, call your point of contact in SHPO – they will let you in the building and escort you to the work room.
  • Again, please note that there is no access to the copy room. Notes or scans will have to be made with the consultant’s equipment, i.e. laptop or phone.
  • When work is completed, SHPO staff will escort you out of the building.
  • If you need to make an appointment at the library or archives, you will need to make a separate appointment at a separate time from your SHPO appointment. Please follow the instructions here to request an appointment.

All Other Locations

In compliance with health emergency orders from Governor Tony Evers and Andrea Palm, Secretary Designee, Department of Health Services, the State Archive Preservation Facility, Atlas Lab on Atlas Avenue in Madison, our operations at the Water Council in Milwaukee, and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland will be closed to all non-essential staff and the public until further notice.

Read the full order here

BIG History Is Happening

A big moment in history is happening right now. COVID-19 is having a major impact on all of our lives. As we practice social distancing, and spend more time at home, it is easy to feel isolated from the things you love. We know how much you love history, and until we can welcome you back to the Society, the Library & Archives, and our sites and museums, we are going to bring more history straight to you! 

While we are closed we encourage the public to explore our resources online, we have staff working behind the scenes to bring content and information through our different channels. Please sign up for our newsletter and follow us on facebook.

BIG History is Happening

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through these changes and thank our members and guests for their continued support of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

No known cases of the virus have been reported by any of our volunteers, staff or visitors. Our facilities team has increased cleaning and sanitizing frequencies in all of our buildings as an additional precautionary measure.

EVENTS AND TICKETS

Special event changes will be updated on our website at: https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/EventSearch.  

If you have purchased tickets for a special event, information about refunds or rescheduled dates will be communicated to you via email in the near future. We appreciate your patience as we work through these changes. Thank you again for your continued support of the Wisconsin Historical Society.