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Genealogy Research Guide: FAQs

Find out what types of genealogy resources you can find in the UW-Superior Special Collections.

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to visit the archives. Do I need to make an appointment? What are your hours?

You are welcome to visit the archives! Our drop-in hours are 9am - noon Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 1pm - 4pm Tuesday and Thursday. Visits outside of drop-in hours are by appointment only. We do recommend that you make an appointment even for visits during drop-in hours, so that we can make sure there is someone available to assist you. If you let us know what you are looking for ahead of time, we can have your materials waiting for you in the research room.

I am unable to visit the archives. Can you copy materials for me?

Yes, we are able to search the collection and send you scans or copies of most types of records. You may be charged a research fee and/or fees for copies.

Do you charge for searches and copies?

We charge a small research fee and may charge additional fees depending on the type of research. Please see our Research & Reproductions page for more information.

What is an Area Research Center?

An Area Research Center (or ARC) is a branch of the Wisconsin Historical Society that provides local access to records from nearby counties. For more information on the ARC network, visit our Area Research Center Guide.

What parts of Wisconsin are covered by your Area Research Center (ARC)?

Douglas and Washburn Counties.

Do you have vital records (marriage, birth, death, divorce, or domestic partnership) from Douglas and Washburn Counties?

We hold pre-1907 vital records for Douglas and Washburn Counties. The Wisconsin Historical Society provides a searchable index of pre-1907 vital records for the state of Wisconsin.

Post-1907 Wisconsin vital records are in permanent retention by the Wisconsin Vital Records Office, and are NOT held by the county or by the Wisconsin Historical Society. By state statute, the WI Vital Records Office requires a written application and a fee for searching for any vital record. They do not provide free searches.

What types of naturalization documents do you have for Douglas and Washburn Counties?

We have Declarations of Intent, Petitions to Naturalize, and Naturalization Records. Please keep in mind that even if we have one of these records for your ancestor, we may not have them all. People were not required to file all of these papers in the same county.

Do you have historic passenger lists for ships on the Great Lakes?

No, we do not have passenger lists for ships on the Great Lakes. In fact, these records do not exist! It's not that they were lost, or that they are somewhere else; they were literally never created. Many people are familiar with historic passenger lists for ocean-going vessels and have used them to trace an ancestor's arrival in the United States. Unfortunately, no such lists exist for ships on the Great Lakes.

Do you have back issues of local newspapers?

Unfortunately, we do not have back issues or microfilm of the Superior Telegram. You can find this resource at the Superior Public Library.

Why isn't all of this online?

There are many reasons that most of our records are not online. Sometimes there is a legal issue that prevents us from making resources freely available on the Internet. In other cases, concerns about copyright or privacy issues prevent us from posting records online. Digital records also take time and money to produce and maintain. The bulk of archival material is often so great that digitization is impractical or cost-prohibitive.

How can I contact you?

The best way to contact us is by emailing the archivist at You can also call us at 715-394-8359.

Where are you located?

We are located in Rm 219 in the Jim Dan Hill Library at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

How long will it take you to respond to my request?

We will try to get back to you within two weeks. We have a very small staff, so response time varies depending on our backlog of requests.

Contact the Archives

Mailing Address:
Jim Dan Hill Library Special Collections
University of Wisconsin-Superior
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000, Superior, WI 54880

Location: 907 N 19th St
View Staff Directory

Shipping Records

The UW-Superior Archives is the home of the Lake Superior Maritime Collection. One of our most frequent patron requests is for historic passenger lists for ships on the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, there are no historic passenger lists for ships on the Great Lakes! It's not that they were lost, or that they are at another archives - they literally do not exist.

When searching the catalog, you may find shipping records for arrivals or departures at a certain port. These records contain lists of commodities, not lists of people.

maritime image