Between 1833 and 2004, over 3,600 newspapers were published in the State of Wisconsin. They covered international, national, and local news, as well as household, garden, and agriculture tips to bring their readers up to date on matters of importance to them. Today, these publications serve as a rich resource for historians and genealogists. They enable us to dive into a specific time period and get insight into world events, community activities, and the interests of the community. Most newspapers also featured obituaries and other more personal local matters. Newspapers printed what community members were up to, who was visiting whom for dinner, who was hosting guests, who was out of town and why. These sections of a newspaper can be a gold mine for family historians.
Starting newspaper research, however, can be overwhelming. With this many newspaper titles published, where do I start? What newspaper was published in my hometown? What newspapers do I have access to?
This presentation will give an overview of the historic newspaper landscape of Wisconsin and discuss what is available for research and how to find it. We will also explore how to work with the newspapers once they are in your hands, or, more likely, on the microfilm reader or computer screen in front of you.
Presented by Randi Ramsden
Randi Ramsden is the National Digital Newspaper Program Manager at the Wisconsin Historical Society where she oversees the digitization of historic Wisconsin newspapers for the Library of Congress database Chronicling America. Her article “Shaping Identity: The History of German-Language Newspapers in Wisconsin” was published in the Fall 2016 issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History.