Archives and digital collections

Wisconsin Digital Archives | Recollection Wisconsin | WisDOT physical archives

The WisDOT Library collects and digitizes documents, photographs, pamphlets, brochures and maps relating to Wisconsin transportation history as well as the history of the agency itself. Materials pertaining to the history of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation include items relating to precursor organizations, including the State Highway Commission of Wisconsin, the Aeronautics Commission and the Motor Vehicle Department. Some of the topics covered include historic highways and bridges, scenic byways, roadside signs and attractions, rail, bicycling, aeronautics, transit, safety and law enforcement.

Wisconsin Digital Archivesimage of collage of many WisDOT publications

The Wisconsin Digital Archives is a collaborative effort managed by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The purpose of the collection is to comply with 35.83 Wis. Stats., as amended by 1991 Wisconsin Act 285, which requires Wisconsin state agencies to provide copies of their publications, regardless of format, to Resources for Libraries & Lifelong Learning for distribution to libraries through the Wisconsin Document Depository Program. The Wisconsin Document Depository Program collects and distributes state documents in print and electronic formats to Wisconsin libraries; preserves and makes available a record of major state government programs; and assures the availability of state documents for use by the public throughout Wisconsin now and in the future.

Recollection Wisconsin

The WisDOT Library is a participant in Recollection Wisconsin, a cooperative digital effort which provides Wisconsin residents and audiences worldwide with free access to a growing set of historical resources from the collections of libraries, archives, museums and historical societies across the state. Please visit the WisDOT Library's digital collections.

WisDOT physical archives at the Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Historical Society Historical Society has numerous Wisconsin DOT archival records. The collection contains:

  • Paper records
  • Photographic prints and negatives
  • Maps and aerial photographs
  • 35mm video reels and optical discs containing Photolog records
  • Active Records Disposition Authorizations (RDAs) which mandate transfer of records from WisDOT to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

To search the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHi) Archives, please consult the library online catalog at the University of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin's Digital Collection also provides searching for descriptive finding aids - another effective way for discovering Wisconsin's transportation history.

Some of the main records documenting much of Wisconsin's organizational transportation history are described below. Direct links to each collection's finding aids (analogous to a table of contents with summary or abstract) are also provided. Viewing the actual records requires visiting the Wisconsin Historical Society's Archives Reading Room. Please contact the Archives website for questions about hours of operation, directions, services and holdings. If you have a specific inquiry, you may contact Library-Archives reference staff directly.

Wisconsin DOT Archives Finding Aids

Note: Many of the records are of precursor agencies to Wisconsin DOT, which was officially formed in 1967.

Administration / General


Bicycle / Pedestrian


Motor Vehicles


Public Affairs

Real Estate

Roads and Highways

State Patrol / Enforcement