Wisconsin Newspapers

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 United States Gotoarrow.png U.S. Newspapers Gotoarrow.png Wisconsin Gotoarrow.png Newspapers


Newspapers publish marriage, divorce, death, and funeral notices, and obituaries. Notices include names, dates, and places. Marriage and death notices may contain maiden names and names of parents and other living relatives.

Newspapers also publish articles of local interest that often cover religious and social events in the community and include the names of people involved. Some newspapers serve several communities and devote columns to the everyday happenings in the area. Newspapers also include legal notices, estate sales, and advertising for local businesses.

One strategy for using newspapers in research, is to select a time period for which your ancestor lived and begin by looking for obituaries as well as birth, marriage, and death notices. Read all the articles which were generated in the county where your ancestor lived, especially articles which give information about the church and schools where your ancestor may have attended.

Resources for Wisconsin Newspapers

Directories that can help you locate copies of newspapers are:

  • Hansen, James L. Wisconsin Newspapers, 1833-1850: An Analytical Bibliography. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1979.
  • Oehlerts, Donald E. Guide to Wisconsin Newspapers, 1833-1957. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1958. (Family History Library book 977.5 B3o.) This source is primarily helpful for finding pre-1950 newspapers.

Libraries and Archives

The Wisconsin Historical Society has the second-largest collection of newspapers in the United States. Many, including all Wisconsin newspapers, are on microfilm and can be loaned to public libraries through interlibrary loan. Newspapers produced by German and other ethnic groups are especially valuable for research about residents of the state.

From the state historical society, the Family History Library has obtained microfilms of 52 volumes of obituaries for 1846 to 1968 known as the Wisconsin Necrology (Family History Library films 977684–91). These are primarily from 1846–1944. There are 52 chronological volumes, and each volume has an index. The Milwaukee Public Library has a card index to the Milwaukee Sentinel for 1837–1890. It is also on microfilm at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Newspaper Directory

The U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present is a national directory from the Library of Congress of over 140,000 newspaper titles. The directory provides a list of libraries from around the country that have the newspapers in their collections.

Digital Issues Online

Wikipedia has more about this subject: List of online newspaper archives

NewspaperArchive.com ($) has a large collection of Wisconsin newspapers online. This database is sometimes free at libraries. It may be under the name Access NewspaperArchive.


There is an index to the Green Bay newspapers:

  • Noonan, Barry Christopher. Index to Green Bay Newspapers, 1833–1840. Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin State Historical Society, 1987. (Family History Library book 977.5 A1 no. 194.)

Newspaper articles published before 2000 are indexed in the Wisconsin Genealogy Index.

Newspaper articles published before 2000 are indexed in the Wisconsin Genealogy Index.

Many newspapers contain obituaries. Some of these have been indexed, for example:

  • Bookstaff, Manning M. Index to Deaths Reported in "The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle," 1921–1961. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: M. M. Bookstaff, 1994 (Family History Library 977.595 B32b.)

The Wisconsin Historical Society has indexed some of the obituaries in Wisconsin newspapers. Contact them at:

Wisconsin Historical Society
816 State Street
Madison, WI 53706-1417
Internet: http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/

Web Sites