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Celebrating 120 Years of Providing Access to Wisconsin State Documents

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The National Archives is celebrating October as American Archives Month to highlight how history is made accessible to you. Wisconsin is celebrating, too! For nearly 120 years, Wisconsin libraries have been providing access to Wisconsin state documents distributed by the Wisconsin Document Depository Program giving historical perspective on the activities of Wisconsin state government.

Since 2004, the three state level depository libraries – the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Wisconsin Historical Society Library (WHS), and the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) Library – have taken responsibility and worked collaboratively to provide access to electronic state government information by maintaining and developing digital collections.

Each of the digital collections described below provide a unique perspective on state government and contain different types of state documents. Below are some potential questions to better illustrate how to use each collection.

  • How can I look at statistics about Wisconsin schools, transportation, or wildlife? Where can I find monthly unemployment statistics or state agency budgets? What studies have been done about broadband, high-speed rail, homeland security, and climate change?
    • The Wisconsin Digital Archives, managed by the DPI, contains state documents that describe activities of state government including statistics, reports, and studies published by government agencies in the course of their work and document how government and citizens interact.
  • Where can I see how state agencies have used their websites to communicate with Wisconsin residents over time? Where can I find electronic government information in formats other than PDF?
    • The State Government Web Archives, managed by WHS, harvests and archives state government websites using the Archive-It software produced by the Internet Archive. Access to full state agency websites allows users to search and access web content no longer available on the live website.
  • I need information on a law passed in Wisconsin and its impact on Wisconsin residents.

Each of the digital collections is readily available for libraries to include in their electronic database and resources lists on their webpages and require no login. For questions or help using these digital collections, email


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