Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Historical Society

Posted by Larry Nix
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on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 in WLA 125
The Wisconsin Historical Society was founded in 1847 and it quickly began to establish one of Wisconsin’s earliest library collections. Led by the vision of Lyman Copeland Draper and succeeding secretaries of the Society, that collection developed into one of the country’s largest and most important North American historical collections. The leaders and staff of the Society played an important role in the creation and development of the Wisconsin Library Association.  In addition to Draper, these individuals included: Daniel Steele Durrie; Reuben Gold Thwaites; Minnie M. Oakley; and Benton H. Wilcox among others. A symbol of the early library history of the Wisconsin Historical Society is a bookcase that housed the original library.  The collection of the Wisconsin Historical Society was housed in several buildings over time including the State Capitol. In 1900 the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin Library jointly occupied a newly completed building. That building with expansions continues to house the Society. The UW Library moved into its own building in 1953.  The Society completed a major renovation of its impressive reading room in 2010.  In 2015 the Wisconsin Historical Press published The Wisconsin Historical Society: Collecting, Preserving, and Sharing Stories Since 1846 by John Zimm.


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