Dane County Historical Society

The Dane County Historical Society is a private non-profit, 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. In January 1961, DCHS affiliated with the Wisconsin  Historical Society. Our charter meeting was held on February 13, 1961, at the Dane County Fairgrounds. In our first year, 143 people were awarded “Charter Memberships.”


The Society’s mission is to preserve and promote Dane County’s history. We do this in several ways:

The Otto Schroeder Archives and Record Center

Newspaper announcing the successful conclusion to a DCHS fundraising campaign

Newspaper article announcing the end of a successful fundraising campaign by DCHS to secure a location in the Lussier Family Heritage Center

The Dane County Historical Society collects published and unpublished materials and other primary and secondary source materials. These materials are housed at the Otto Schroeder Archives and Record Center at the lower level of the Lussier Family Heritage Center. A generous gift of $50,000 from Amy Gilliland made it possible for DCHS to be part of the building project.  In honor of Amy’s gift, DCHS named the Otto SchroederArchives and Records Center after Amy’s grandfather.

We want everyone to use our materials. Making an appointment is as simple as emailing us at danecountyhistory@gmail.com. Generally, it’s best to review our online catalog before making an appointment. In some cases, we may be able to copy the material you want. This might involve a charge for staff time and copying but might save you a trip to the archives.

Dane County Records Center is formed with three way partnership

1968 newspaper article about the formation of the Dane County Records Center.

The precursor to the Schroeder Archives and Records Center was the Dane County Records Center, established in 1968 through a partnership with DCHS, the Madison Public Library, and the Dane County Library Service. With this partnership in place, Madison’s central library provided space for the Dane County Records Center in the basement. Library services offered free transportation. This unique partnership was so well received that it won a national award from the American Association of State and Local History.


Collections and Projects

The Dane County Historical Soceity has a number of ongoing collections and projects. 

Central High School Yearbooks

More coming soon!

Historical Markers Project

The Dane County Historical Society’s Historical markers bring attention to significant people, places, and events in the County’s history. Since 1963, DCHS has erected over 47 markers countywide. See more about our markers program, including an interactive map, here. 

Kronenberg Architectural Collection

More coming soon!

Walter E. Scott Collection

More coming soon!



The Dane County Historical Society has published two books about Dane County history which are available for sale. In 2001, Dane County Historical Society published Forward! A History of DANE The Capital County. This book is still available for sale today. Although written 20 years ago, it is still the best reference work for anyone studying Dane County history. Dane County Historical Society has also published Back to Beginnings: The Early Days of Dane County which is a richly illustrated volume suitable for adults and children alike. 

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Below is an introductory video with Rick Bernstein, DCHS’s Administrator. Before joining DCHS, Rick retired from the Wisconsin Historical Society. He worked there for almost thirty years and brought that experience to bear. During the Covid Pandemic, the archives and records center is available upon appointment. Call us at 608 224-3605. Better yet, for a faster response, please email us at danecountyhistory@gmail.com to set up an appointment.

Intro to Dane County Historical Society