What is this website?

recollectionwisconsin.org is a place to discover and share your Wisconsin story. This website provides Wisconsin residents and audiences worldwide with free access to a growing set of historical resources from the collections of libraries, archives, museums and historical societies across the state. But this site is a place for more than just viewing digital resources. You’re also invited to contribute your own memories, images, knowledge and thoughts.

With recollectionwisconsin.org, you can . . .

  • Read letters home from Wisconsin soldiers who served in the Civil War, World War I and WWII
  • See baskets, beadwork, furniture, pottery and other objects made by Wisconsin craftspeople
  • Listen to traditional folk music from Wisconsin ethnic groups
  • Page through yearbooks from colleges and universities around the state
  • Browse photos of local people and events from dozens of Wisconsin communities
  • Explore a map to find digital resources from collections near you
. . . and much more!


Who is this website for?

Everyone! recollectionwisconsin.org is intended for students, teachers, scholars, genealogists, history buffs, and anyone else interested in discovering more about our state and its wealth of historical and cultural resources.

What is the Recollection Wisconsin program?

Recollection Wisconsin is a collaborative effort to bring together digital versions of Wisconsin history materials from participating libraries, archives, museums and historical societies across the state. The program also provides guidelines, training and support to contributing partners in an effort to standardize and coordinate cultural heritage digitization efforts at the statewide level.

Partners and funding

Recollection Wisconsin is a collaborative statewide initiative sponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WiLS, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Historical Society, and Marquette University. These Governing Partners each make ongoing in-kind commitments of specific resources to support the program.

Funding for the program is provided by grants from the Nicholas Family Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, which administers Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants distributed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), as well as annual collection hosting and harvesting fees from Content Partners.


History of the program

The Recollection Wisconsin program was first developed in 2005 as a collaborative effort of Wisconsin academic libraries, public libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies. From 2005-2012, the program was known as Wisconsin Heritage Online (WHO).

The founding mission of Wisconsin Heritage Online was “to inspire education and discovery by making Wisconsin’s cultural heritage available to the public via the World Wide Web.”

Initial program goals included:

  • Expand access to content digitized by Wisconsin’s cultural heritage institutions.
  • Encourage and facilitate digitization through availability of support, training, and hosting services.
  • Maintain the infrastructure to support digital collaboration.
  • Provide for content to be accessible from one place.
  • Assure that content is adequately indexed.
  • Develop and maintain shared standards for metadata.

Our name

Recollection means the act or power of recollecting, or recalling to mind. Re-collection means the act of collecting, gathering, or assembling again. The name Recollection Wisconsin captures what we do: create opportunities for people to discover personal connections to the past by bringing together digital collections from across the state. Read more about the reasoning behind our name and why we switched from Wisconsin Heritage Online to Recollection Wisconsin.

Our logo

Like our name, our logo reflects what we do – our program “re-collects” a wide variety of historical resources from collections around the state into a single (virtual) access point. Rounded up in one place, these diverse materials can lead to new ways of exploring, experiencing, and understanding Wisconsin’s past. Find out more about the historic images used in our logo.


Emily Pfotenhauer
Recollection Wisconsin Program Manager
Wisconsin Library Services (WiLS)
1360 Regent Street #121
Madison, WI 53715-1255
emily at wils.org

Colophon and site credits

Design of site by StudioSaal Corporation and Non-Affiliated. Built using Insomnia, a customizable WordPress theme. The site uses Josefin Slab Light for titles, Open Sans for headings and PT Serif for the body copy. Site identity created by StudioSaal Corporation.