About the Wisconsin Name Index | Wisconsin Historical Society

Resource Description

About Our Wisconsin Name Index

About the Wisconsin Name Index | Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Name Index (WNI) collection is an index of three categories of information: obituaries, newspaper clippings and biographical book excerpts.

The categories draw from a database of 150 county and local histories, dozens of professional directories and biographical encyclopedias, more than 60 scrapbooks containing 30,000 obituaries, and selected articles in Wisconsin magazines and newspapers. Most items were published 1870-1970.

How the Wisconsin Name Index Collection is Organized

The collection is indexed by name or topic. Use the information on the index record to help you locate and view the item at the Library.

Book icon for WNI records.WNI items
use this
book icon

The Wisconsin Name Index collection is only available online.

Purchasing Copies

Photocopies of published and unpublished materials can be made by the Library Archives staff for a fee.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.

Wisconsin Name Index Citation
Newspaper title, place of publication, issue date, page number, Wisconsin Historical Society.

History of the Wisconsin Name Index

Starting about 1870, Society librarians made a catalog card for every biographical sketch included in each new Wisconsin county history. They made a similar card for every obituary added to the scrapbooks they called the "Wisconsin Necrology." In addition, they frequently added catalog cards for magazine and newspaper articles about Wisconsin residents. IN all, more than 1,500 publications were indexed by Wisconsin Historical Society librarians.

After more than a century of such work, the data on the original cards was typed into a database by state employees. In 2003 and 2004, 50,000 more records were added through an agreement WISDEX: Wisconsin biography index.

Learn More

See more articles about researching your family history.

Have Questions?

Contact our Library and Archives staff by email.