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Wisconsin Records Details and Resources

By Family Tree Editors Premium


Available federal census population schedules for the state of Wisconsin begin with 1850. Earlier censuses record Wisconsin-area residents in 1820 and 1830 in Michigan Territory) and in 1840 in Wisconsin Territory. The 1890 census did not survive, but the Union Veterans and Widows Schedule for Wisconsin did.

Mortality schedules taken with the federal census exist for 1850, 1860, 1870 (partial) and 1880. Special censuses were also taken in Wisconsin Territory in 1836, 1838, 1840, 1842, 1846 and 1847. Wisconsin took state censuses in 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895 and 1905. These records are available on microfilm at the Wisconsin Historical Society, as are indexes to many of them. Some are also on microfilm at the Family History Library (FHL). State censuses are not especially detailed until 1905, which includes such information as age, marital status, place of birth, parents’ place of birth and occupation, and also includes a veterans’ enumeration.

Pre-1907 birth, death and marriage records are microfilmed and available through the FHL, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the 13 Area Research Centers in Wisconsin. Some births and deaths were recorded as early as the 1850s, but most date from the 1870s or later. Marriage records for some counties date from as early as 1816. Statewide registration of vital records began in 1907. You can search a vital records index and order copies online at Birth, death or marriage records 1907 and later can be obtained from the Vital Records Office at 1 West Wilson Street in Madison (Box 309, Madison, WI 53701, (608) 266-1371,

Circuit and County Courts have, at various times, had jurisdiction over all court matters, including civil and criminal cases, divorce, probate, adoption, juvenile cases, dependency and neglect. Naturalization records from about three-fourths of the counties have been transferred to Area Research Centers. For the other counties, the Circuit Clerk Court should still have the records.

Divorce records are held by the County or Circuit Court Clerk. Probate records are held by the Clerk of County Court. Land records at the county courthouse are found with the Register of Deeds. The FHL has filmed naturalizations and probate files, many land grantee-grantor indexes, and some deeds for some counties.

Church and cemetery records for Wisconsin are abundant. The Wisconsin Historical Society holds church and cemetery abstracts, transcriptions and indexes, as well as original records or microfilm copies. The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society has published hundreds of cemetery transcriptions, and the Wisconsin State Old Cemetery Society has card indexes to many burials. A useful guide is Cemetery Locations in Wisconsin by Linda M. and Wendy K. Uncapher (Origins). Catholic and Lutheran denominations dominated Wisconsin throughout the 1800s, and the FHL has microfilmed records from many Wisconsin churches, including parish records to about 1920 of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Microfilms of the records of more than 200 Lutheran Wisconsin congregations are held by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America archives in Chicago. Most churches and cemeteries still have their original records.


  • A German State? in Wisconsin: A Bicentennial History by Richard Nelson Current (WW Norton & Co., 1977)
  • Immigration to Wisconsin: A Thesis by Maude Sachtjen (University of Wisconsin, 1928)
  • Misc. Naturalization Records, 1840-1906 from the Wisconsin Supreme, Circuit, and Municipal Courts, State Historical Society (filmed by the Family History Library)


  • Conquest of the Country Northwest of The River Ohio, 1778-1783, and Life of General George Rogers Clark: With Numerous Sketches of Men Who Served Under Clark and Full List of Those Allotted Lands in Clark’s Grant for Service in the Campaigns Against the British Posts, Showing Exact Land Allotted Each, 2 vols., by William Hayden English (Bowen-Merrill, 1896)
  • Land Records: AL, AR, FL, LA, MI, MN, OH, WI (Broderbund, 1996, CD-ROM)
  • Wisconsin, 1820-1908 Cash and Homestead Entries, Cadastral Survey Plats from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM Eastern states, 1994)


  • Atlas of the State of Wisconsin by H.F. Walling (Walling, Tackabury and Co., 1876)
  • Atlas of Wisconsin: General Maps and Gazetteers by Arthur Robinson and Jerry B. Culver (University of Wisconsin Press, 1974)
  • Historical Atlas and Chronology of County Boundaries, 1788-1980, 5 vols., edited by John H. Long (G.K. Hall, 1984)
  • Historical Atlas of Wisconsin by Van Vechten Snyder & Co. (Origins, 1995)
  • Maps and Atlases Showing Land Ownership in Wisconsin compiled by Michael J. Fox (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1978)
  • The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names by Robert E. Gard and L.G. Sorden (1968; Heartland Press, 1988)
  • Wisconsin Atlas & Gazetteer (DeLorme Mapping Co., 1988)
  • Wisconsin, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries by Gordon DenBoer (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1997)
  • Wisconsin: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions and Persons Arranged in Cyclopedic Form edited by George W. Peck (Western Historical Association, 1906)
  • Wisconsin County Maps compiled by C.J. Puetz (Thomas Publishing Co., 1992)
  • Wisconsin Post Office Handbook, 1921-1971 compiled by James B. Hale (Wisconsin Postal History Society, 1971)


  • Admission Applications, 1867-1872, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Northwestern Branch, Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Leslie Elizabeth Miljat (L.E. Miljat, 1991)
  • Researching Your Civil War Ancestors in Wisconsin by Denis R. Moore (Bivouac Publications, 1994)
  • Wisconsin’s Gold Star List: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Nurses From the Badger State (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1925)


  • Guide to the Wisconsin State Archives by David J. Delgado (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1966)


  • Bible and Cemetery Records, 1700-1940 from the Daughters of the American Revolution (filmed by the Family History Library, 1970)
  • Cemetery Locations in Wisconsin by Linda M. Herrick and Wendy K. Uncapher (Origins 1998)
  • Index to deaths Reported in “The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle,” 1921-1961 by Manning M. Bookstaff (M.M. Bookstaff, 1994)
  • Registration of Births, 1852-1907 from the Wisconsin Bureau of Health Statistics (Wisconsin State Historical Society, 1979)
  • Registration of Deaths, ca. 1862-1907 from the Wisconsin Bureau of Health Statistics (filmed by the Genealogical society of Utah, 1981)

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From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.