Genealogical Materials in the University Archives
The UW-Madison Archives may have genealogical information on former faculty, staff and students. If your ancestor was not connected to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, we most likely do not have information about them. The Wisconsin Historical Society may be able to assist you with your research, if your ancestor lived in Madison but was not associated with the University.
We have an extensive collection of secondary source material about UW-Madison students and staff. If you are unable to visit the Archives in person, we may be able to share a list of independent researchers for hire. Please contact us for more information.
The following steps will help you research your ancestor in the UW-Madison Archives.
Determine date of graduation
- Order a transcript copy from the UW-Madison Office of the Registrar.
- Search the Alumni Directory, 1849-1919, also available in print at the University Archives.
- Search the annual commencement programs and registers, 1856-1952, Series 5/00/5/1. These chronological programs of graduates by college and degree, list graduates’ names, home town, degree and title of thesis (if one was done).
- Search the undergraduate Class Albums, Series 0/2/3, 1872-77, 1880, 1882-1888, 1890, with photographs and often biographical data about individuals in graduating class. These are available online in the University of Wisconsin Collection.
- Search the All-Alumni Directory, published by the Wisconsin Alumni Association in 2000. This publication is available in the University Archives Reference Collection.
Determine dates of attendance
- Contact the Office of the Registrar at 608 262-3811 or https://registrar.wisc.edu//.
- Search the annual student directories, 1888-current, Series 5/00/2. The directories are available in the Archives and list the student’s name, major or college/school and campus address. Earlier directories, beginning in 1853, are with the university catalogs, Series 5/00/1.
- Search the Badger yearbook, 1885-present, Series 20/1/1/00/2. The yearbooks details seniors, athletics, fraternities, sororities, activities and social life at UW-Madison. It was optional to have a graduation photograph in the yearbook, so they often did not have indexes. Prior to 1932, the yearbooks were edited by the Junior Class, so a 1910 graduate would appear in the 1911 yearbook.
The Badger yearbook is available online and searchable through 2012. Browse by year or keyword search for individuals.
Determine course work
Check undergraduate catalogs, 1849-current, Series 5/00/1. The catalogs are available in the Archives and list course descriptions, information about the university and faculty. Early years also include staff and student directories.
Student biographical information
- Search Series 20/0/1 Index, this small collection of student biographical material contains scattered biographical information for past students.
- Search the Alumni Magazine online. Series 21/00/2. Browse by year or keyword search for individuals. The Alumni Magazine often contained notices of engagements, marriages, new jobs and deaths.
- Check admissions papers, Series 19/12/2/1, available after death or 75 years from last attendance. These usually contain name, address, nationality and occupation of parent/guardian and high school transcripts. We have admissions papers dating from the 1880s, although the early ones are not complete.
Document student life on campus
- Search the chronological memorabilia collection, Record Group 1.
- Search the Badger yearbook, Series 20/1/1/00/2 (see above).
- Search the Daily Cardinal (beginning in 1892), Series 20/1/1/00/1, or Badger Herald (beginning in 1969), Series 20/1/2/00/14. Available on microfilm in the University Archives. Some newspapers are also available bound–these may not be photocopied. Copies can be made from the microfilm. A selection of Cardinal issues are available in the UW Digital Collections UW-Madison Collection.
- Search the student scrapbook collection, 1882-1953. Series 20/0/2. These scrapbooks, compiled by students, document events important to the average student. They contain clippings, souvenirs and photographs of student life at UW-Madison. See the finding aid for more information.
- Check Record Group 19 or 20 for records of student organizations.
- Search the online photograph collection. We have over 17,000 digitized images in the UW Digital Collections database.
- Visit Exhibits and Online Collections for additional resources that document campus history.
Document participation in reunions
Search Record Group 21, 1879-1993, Alumni Association records.
Information on faculty, staff, regents, or honorary degree recipients
- The faculty and staff Biographical File collection contains information on over 6000 people. See paper alphabetical index in the University Archives or contact the Archives for more information.
- Staff directories, 1888-current, Series 5/00/2, list name, campus address and departmental information. Early directories often also list city address. Earlier staff directories are included with the university catalog.
- Faculty Employment Cards, 1848-1950, Series 1/9, detail name, position held and salaries.
- Budgets; 1894-1971, Series 24/0/2, 1971-current, Series 40/00/40, budget by division and department, more recent budgets have indexes.
Other campus resources
Short Course graduate information, 105 Agriculture Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI, 53706.
Wisconsin Alumni Association, 650 N. Lake St., Madison, WI 53706-1476, 608 262-2551, (888) WIS-ALUM.
Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives, 816 State St. Madison, WI 53706. Contact Society staff for more information about their genealogical holdings and research services.