Wisconsin Historical Newspaper Project


The Wisconsin Public Library Consortium (WPLC), Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS), Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA), and WiLS are working together to provide digital access to Wisconsin’s historical newspapers through the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers, available through BadgerLink.  See the list of historical newspapers currently in the archive.


Due to COVID-19, the Wisconsin Historical Society Microfilm Reproductions Lab was fully closed from March-August 2020. The microfilm lab has reopened with minimal staffing and is working through a backlog of “paused” scanning projects. The lab is not accepting new orders at this time.

Because no new content is being digitized, no additional historical content will be uploaded to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers in BadgerLink until further notice.

All of the historical newspaper content contributed to the Archive by Wisconsin libraries between 2015 and 2020 remains fully searchable through BadgerLink -- almost 600,000 pages from 40 different titles in 26 Wisconsin communities. Anyone with a Wisconsin library card can explore these historical newspapers by title, city, county or date, as well as more than 250 daily and weekly Wisconsin newspapers from 2005 to 90 days ago.


In 2015, WPLC undertook a pilot project to provide proof of concept for a centralized point of access to digitized historical newspapers from Wisconsin communities. WPLC partnered with the Wisconsin Historical Society, WiLS, and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association to select, reformat, and provide access to approximately 85,000 pages of historical newspapers from 12 communities across the state. Funding for the pilot project was provided by WPLC as well as Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

A review of the pilot and recommendations for next steps in the project were presented to the WPLC board at their February 2016 meeting. Since then, five large batches of content have been scanned from microfilm by Wisconsin Historical Society and loaded to the Archive by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. The costs for this work have been contributed by individual Wisconsin libraries and supplemented by additional LSTA funds distributed by DPI. WPLC’s role in the project is governed by the Historical and Local Digital Collections Committee. 


Please email wplc-info@wils.org with any questions about this project.