The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Archives and Area Research Center is a unique resource with a vast amount of holdings pertaining to the history of northeastern Wisconsin. The Archives and Area Research Center is primarily responsible for managing the local history materials held by the University. The collections are categorized into four components: Area Research Center, University Archives, University-owned manuscript collections, and Local History Collections. Each of these sections contains a variety of materials on a number of topics.
Area Research Center
Mission and Goals
The Green Bay Area Research Center (ARC) was established in 1972 as part of the Area Research Center Network operated cooperatively with the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS). ARCs are located on the twelve University of Wisconsin campuses, Northern Great Lakes Center, and the WHS. Each ARC is responsible for collecting and making available archival materials within its region.
The Green Bay ARC is the official repository for the WHS’s collections of original records, such as manuscripts and county and municipal records relating to northeastern Wisconsin. Specifically, the Green Bay ARC is responsible for documenting the counties of Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie and Shawano.
Types of Area Research Center Materials
Materials at the ARC are primary sources or original records divided into two groups: manuscripts and public records. Manuscripts are collections of papers or records of individuals, organizations, or businesses. The manuscript collections vary a great deal in type such as diaries, letters, reminiscences, financial records, scrapbooks, minutes and publications. The collections range in date from 1634 to the present.
Specific examples of manuscript collections include family papers; Civil War accounts; church records; records of organizations such as hospitals, women’s clubs, labor unions and religious groups of many affiliations; quasi-governmental agencies; political parties; tribal organizations and environmental activist groups. Business records at the ARC are varied and include those of cheese companies, lumber companies, cooperatives, breweries, canning companies and law firms.
Complementing the manuscript collections are public records. Government officials and agencies create public records as they perform their duties. The ARC holdings include public records generated at the state, county, and municipal levels. The ARC has a few collections of state records pertinent to this region. The most often-used state records are indexes to births, deaths, and marriages.
On the county and municipal (village, city, town, township) levels, the holdings of the ARC vary from county to county and from municipality to municipality. Generally, the holdings include records from the county clerk, county treasurer, register of deeds, circuit court, probate court and the county superintendent of schools. Municipal or town records mirror county records in format with town board, town assessor, municipal court, justice of the peace and school district records.
Specific examples of county and municipal records include tax rolls, citizenship records, election records, land records, criminal and civil case files, town board minutes and school censuses.
Transfer of Collections (Resource Sharing)
The ARC Network operates a unique service by allowing many of the archival collections at all ARCs and the WHS to transfer. In other words, the local researcher who wants information on Civil War soldiers does not need to drive to Madison. Rather, the records would be brought here for research use. The researcher who wants information on steamboats on the Mississippi River does not need to drive to La Crosse; the relevant collections can be brought here for research. Transfers generally arrive within a week and are available for thirty days. Identify materials to borrow by using Archival Resources in Wisconsin or Search@UW. You can also contact us with any questions about borrowing items.
The Archives Department has the responsibility of acquiring, storing, and administering the official and unofficial records of UW-Green Bay.
The University Archives consists of a wide variety of records. The Archives contains complete files of virtually every university-generated publication, departmental and administrative records and the records of individual faculty members. Official records in the University Archives range from basketball films to founding records of 1965, campus blueprints to marketing records, and oral history interviews to correspondence of the Chancellor. The archival copy of UW-Green Bay master's degree theses are also housed in the University Archives. There are also a few records of student organizations. The University Archives includes a large photo collection (1960s to present) as well as a small collection of artifacts associated with campus history.
University-Owned Manuscript Collections
The Archives Department holds manuscript collections separately from the ARC materials. Types of collections include files of genealogy researchers; local clubs, organizations or businesses; and community historians.
One of the larger manuscript collections housed at the Archives is the records of the Fort Howard Paper Company, founded in 1919. Fort Howard Company was one of the nation’s largest producers of disposable paper products such as toilet paper, paper toweling, napkins, placemats and wipers. The collection includes employee newsletters, product samples, photographs, financial records, video recordings and artifacts. Documented are Fort Howard’s innovations in the use of recycled paper and other environmental issues, inventions and patents of papermaking and folding machines, expansions, acquisitions, mergers, employee activities and company philanthropy. Biographical information on the Cofrin family and other company leaders is also present. View the descriptive finding aid of the Fort Howard Archives for a detailed inventory of the holdings.
Local History Collections
The Local History Collections in the Archives Department consists of many materials that support the research needs of individuals interested in a wide range of local history topics. The materials focus on Wisconsin and more specifically the northeastern Wisconsin counties of Brown, Calumet, Door, Florence, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie and Shawano.
The Archives Department collects and maintains a non-circulating book collection mainly about the history of northeastern Wisconsin. All books can be found in Search@UW.
Some of the subjects represented are:
- County histories
- Community histories
- Church histories
- Published family histories
- Wisconsin historical collections
- Local industries
- Ethnic studies
- City directories
- Private and local laws of Wisconsin
- Laws of Wisconsin
- Genealogy resource & how-to books
- Statistical federal Census summaries
- Wisconsin Native Americans
- Baedeker's travel guides (dated from the 1800s)
Green Bay/Fox River Water Quality Collection
More than 1400 publications about all aspects of Green Bay and the Fox River are discoverable through Search@UW, including flora, fauna, pollution, natural history and geology.
The Archives Department collects and maintains a non-circulating map collection mainly about the geography of northeastern Wisconsin. All maps can be found using Search@UW. You can also search the 1875 Brown County plat map index.
Some types of maps represented are:
- Plat maps
- Sanborn Fire Insurance maps
- Highway maps
- Soil and topography maps
- City and town maps
- Railroad maps
- Cemetery plats
The Archives Department has newsletters, magazines and other publications from northeastern Wisconsin genealogical and historical societies. Specific titles and holdings of periodicals are available through Search@UW.
We house a collection of approximately 2,000 photographic images which include:
- Historic street scenes from Green Bay and other northeastern Wisconsin communities
- Photos from the Belgian-American Collection
- Homes, businesses, schools, churches and other buildings
- Individuals, families and other group shots (clubs, bands, etc.)
This file is used to collect and preserve small pieces of valuable information in a variety of formats: pamphlets, news clippings, commemorative booklets, programs, etc.
Arranged alphabetically, the collection contains these types of subjects:
- Churches and cemeteries
- Cities and towns
- Ethnic groups
- Student research papers on a wide variety of topics, especially building and community histories. Specific topics can be found using Search@UW.