Historical Newspapers


Beginning 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. This content is available alongside more than 250 newspaper titles from 2005 to the present in the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers, freely available to Wisconsin residents through BadgerLink.

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).

Many thanks to the following people who contributed their time and expertise to the pilot project: Beth Bennett (WNA), John Friend (WHS), Denise Guttery (WNA), Jane Jorgenson (Madison Public Library), Ron Larson (WHS), Katie Mullen (WHS), Gail Murray (BadgerLink), Elizabeth Neuman (BadgerLink), Kara Ripley (BadgerLink), Alison Ross (ESLS), Bradley Shipps (OWLS), Rose Zeich (SCLS).

This project is currently governed by the Historical and Local Digital Collections Committee.


A review of the pilot and recommendations for next steps in the project were presented to the WPLC board at their February 2016 meeting. 

Going forward, WPLC will support the annual cost for hosting the historical content added to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers during the pilot, and will also support hosting costs for additional content added to the portal, up to 280,000 pages annually. Libraries interested in adding content to the portal are responsible for the costs of microfilm scanning and OCR by the Wisconsin Historical Society and costs for the uploading of digital files by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Due to the high level of interest from the library community, WPLC’s Historical and Local Digital Resources Committee will develop selection criteria to determine additional content to be added to the portal. Please complete this form to add your library to an interest list for future stages of the project: http://goo.gl/forms/byX6fOdphRe3EgDj2

Questions about the project? Please read more at http://www.wplc.info/newspapers or contact Emily Pfotenhauer, emily@wils.org or 608-616-9756.


  • Partnerships, roles, costs and procedures developed in order to continue to grow the collection
  • Approximately 85,000 pages of microfilm scanned by Wisconsin Historical Society and added to the Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers
  • Current list of historical newspapers in BadgerLink / WNA Archive