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  Step 3: Contact the Archivist

Primary sources are available on the internet and are often very helpful but they can be complicated to work with. Communicationg with archivists can be a more effective way to find and access primary resources. There are many archives in Wisconsin. There are 14 Area Research Centers across the state as well as other archvies located in museums, libraries and other institutions. Most of these institutions will have primary sources only about Wisconsin topics but some will have materials that go beyond the state or will have advice about how to find other primary sources.

To find the closest Area Research Center to you click for here for a map of where they are located.

Contact an archvisit by telephone or e-mail. It is important to realize that due to small staffs of most archives, it could take several days, possibly weeks to receive a response from an archives. Get your questions in as early as possible and be patient about receiving feedback.

If you plan to email the facility, consider using the following form letter to issue a request:

Dear Archivist:

My name is __________ and I am working a National History Day Research Project. My topic is ____________. My research question is ______________. Would your facility have any primary sources related to my question. I am/am not [PICK ONE] able to visit your archives in person. I need to access the information by the following date:____ Please let me know the open hours of your facility and the costs for copying documents. Any help you can provide me is appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

When you receive a response you'll be able to move on to the next step.

Step 4: Decide if Archival research is approriate.


1. Preliminary Research and Choose your Topic
2.Develop Research Question
3. Contact the Archivist
4. Decide if Archive Use is Appropriate
5. Plan a Trip to the Archives
6. Researching at the Archives