Area Research Center Collections

The River Falls Area Research Center (ARC) is one of fourteen research facilities in the statewide Area Research Center Networklink (network map). The River Falls ARC houses materials owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society that are from four northwestern Wisconsin counties: Burnett, Pierce, Polk, and Saint Croix. Collections consist of two types of archival material: records of local government units, and private manuscript materials.

Local Government Records

The records of local governments cover a wide variety of government offices and functions. The ARC has more records from Pierce County (the oldest county) and the least from Burnett County (the youngest of the four counties).

The easiest way to find all local government records from a particular county is to use ArCatlink, the Wisconsin Historical Society's ArchivesCatalog. Using the Guided Search, in the Search For box put the name of the county you are interested without the word "county," and then limit your search by call number in the drop-down menu under Search By. So "Pierce" as a call number search will find all government records for Pierce County. You may also pair a call number search with a keyword search such as the name of a school, or skip the call number search and just search by keyword if you know it is a word that will not show up in several other Wisconsin counties.

Some typical records include:

  • naturalization or citizenship records (declarations of intention, final papers, etc.)
  • tax rolls and some assessment rolls
  • county court and justice of the peace court records
  • school records
  • city and county board minutes
  • some vital records (birth, death, marriage), although most of these records remain in the counties.

Manuscript Collections

"Manuscripts" is the term used for archival materials created by private individuals and families, and entities such as businesses, community organizations, and churches.

Some typical types of manuscript materials include:

  • letters and correspondence
  • diaries
  • scrapbooks
  • written reminiscences and oral histories
  • ledgers and other types of financial records
  • membership records.

A search of ArCatlink for all manuscripts collections related to a particular county is not quite as easy as with the government records because the call number used for all counties in the River Falls ARC is "River Falls Mss" or "River Falls SC." Mss is the standard abbreviation for Manuscripts and SC in this case stands for Small Collection—a collection with one folder or just a few folders of material, rather than a box or more. You can still use the call number search, but use "River Falls" in the Search For box, pick "Call number" in the Search By drop-down menu, and pair it with a keyword search such as one of the four counties or the name of a person.