Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center

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Open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, 7 Days a Week!

Students researching in the Northwoods ARC.

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Supporting Historical Research

Our History Center and Archives is #14 in the statewide network of Area Research Centers (ARCs) operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS). The ARCs bring historical records to the people of Wisconsin. Working cooperatively, the network’s partners identify, collect, organize and preserve records documenting Wisconsin’s heritage.

Serving Eight Wisconsin Counties

Located on the second floor of the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, we serve Ashland, Bayfield, Forest, Iron, Oneida, Price, Sawyer, and Vilas counties. We house a variety of public records and private manuscript collections. To view a listing of our catalog, visit our Web site.

History Center and Archives: 715-685-2647
Open: 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and by appointment.

Genealogical Research

Items of most use and interest for genealogical researchers include naturalization records; pre-1907 registrations of births, deaths, and marriages; census records for each of the eight counties as well as Native American census rolls for Northern Wisconsin tribes; area newspapers on microfilm; court and tax records; and Ashland city directories.

Local History Collections

We have a local history reference collection, maps, and numerous manuscript collections available for scholarly research. More than 77 collections of papers and records produced by private organizations and individuals are held by the Northwoods History Center and Archives.

Among them are the papers of Sigurd F. Olson. Olson was raised in Ashland and lived most of his adult life in Ely, Minnesota. The Olson Papers consists of personal and family correspondence and features photographs depicting Olson's canoe trips in Minnesota and Canada, family life in Ely and Ashland, professional activities, and post-World War II conditions in Europe. Visit: and search Northland Mss 19 for more information on this collection.

Accessing Records

In addition to the collections housed at the Northwoods History Center and Archives, researchers can access collections from the other ARCs and from the Wisconsin Historical Society through the ARC network. Visit the Society’s on-line catalog. Should you find a collection that you are interested in viewing that is located at another WHS repository, tell us and we’ll have the collection brought to Ashland for your use at no cost. Nominal charges apply for copying and or research that we conduct for patrons; contact us for fee information.

Visit the Northwoods ARC

Visit the History Center and Archives Tuesday through Friday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by appointment; please contact the History Center at 715-685-2647 or e-mail

Genealogy Programming and Education

For information on genealogy programs sponsored by the Wisconsin State Historical Society, please call 715-685-2647 or e-mail