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Genealogy FAQ

1. What Kinds of Searches Will the Archives Do?

The Archives will search church, synagogue, and cemetery records; naturalization records; and property records.

2. What Are the Fees?

Our fees page explains our fees.

3. Where May I Obtain Copies of Birth, Death, and Marriage Records?

These records are available at the local register of deeds, the Wisconsin Vital Records Office in Madison, or from the Wisconsin Historical Society.

4. Where May I Search for Other Types of Records?

The Wisconsin Genealogical Resources in Other Repositories page provides information about other types of records and contact information for other repositories.

5. Why Aren’t the Vital Records on the Web?

Until recently, it was illegal to make electronic copies of the vital records.  Now repositories may provide digital copies of vital records as long as they are stamped “not valid for identification purposes.” Some vital records indexes are now available online through organizations like the Wisconsin Historical Society and FamilySearch.

6. How Long Will It Take You to Respond to My Request?

We try to respond within two weeks. The response time depends upon the backlog of requests that we have and our staffing resources.

7. Why Aren’t All the Records Microfilmed, and Why Are There Gaps in the Records?

Most of the microfilming was done on a volunteer basis by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They filmed what they could access at government offices or churches. There are gaps in the records usually because many individuals in the 19th century did not have records filled out, or because records have been lost or destroyed over time.

8. Why Doesn’t the Archives Have Many Genealogical Records Dating after 1907?

1907 was the usual cutoff date when the records were microfilmed in the 1980s to help ensure privacy.

9. Where Are Milwaukee County Naturalization Records?

The Milwaukee County Historical Society has Milwaukee County naturalization records. Some Milwaukee County Naturalization records are also online at FamilySearch.

10. Where May I Go for a Milwaukee-area Obituary or Newspaper Search?

The Milwaukee County Historical Society and the Milwaukee Public Library perform searches of this type. Recent obituaries in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel can also be searched online at

11. How May I Access the Archives’ Resources Outside of the Department’s Regular Hours?

Many of the Archives’ genealogical resources are on microfilm and housed in the Media Library of the UWM Libraries. This area is open during all posted hours of the main and east wing entrances.