Research Center and Archives
Before plastic film and digital storage, glass was used to capture images. Visit the History Center and see a selection of glass plate negatives and their printed images from the Research Center and Archives Collection. Also on exhibit will be our 1908 studio camera and a selection of equipment used for taking glass negatives. Free with regular museum admission.
Over 122,000 Wisconsin men and women served on land, sea and in the air during WWI. WWI Beyond the Trenches, a traveling exhibit from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, features an up close and personal look at the Great War through the eyes of Wisconsin veterans using photographs and first person accounts. This special exhibit is free with museum admission.
Dig into the past at our free family-friendly, indoor-outdoor celebration! This year, we’re exploring archaeology in honor of Wisconsin archaeology month.
See how stone tools are made, learn how archaeologist identify and interpret artifacts, and MORE!
Guided tours of the Old Jailhouse Museum will be available at 9:45, 10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:45, 12:15, and 12:45. Stop at the Old Courthouse Museum front desk for free tour tickets.
Learn about the dark past of West Bend as Executive Director of the History Center of Washington County reveals the crimes of West Bend! This second talk in the 3 part series co-sponsored by the West Bend Library and the History Center of Washington County will take place at the Old Courthouse Museum.
Washington County Residents are invited to visit all 3 History Center Washington County Museums this week for FREE. It’s our way of saying, “Thank you!”
On Wednesday, June 20 all Museums are open late.
- Old Courthouse & Old Jailhouse Museums, 11:00am-7:00pm
- Father Rehrl’s Rectory & Exhibit at St. Agnes Historic Site, 5:00pm-7:00pm. Open Wednesday only.
EGG DROP from Old Courthouse tower June 21 from 4-7pm! Group-build a secure, drop-proof egg carton in the courtroom (or at home) for 1 raw egg. For $10 you get the egg, building supplies and 3 chances to hit the target from the balcony level (80 feet) of the Old Courthouse tower.
Hit the target and the egg survives, win a prize. Hit the target and the egg does not survive, you still get a prize. Try as many times as you wish, but it is $10/egg/drop. Tower is open only to those participating in the egg drop.
LAST OLD JAILHOUSE MUSEUM TOUR each day begins 45 minutes before close. Stop at the Old Courthouse Museum for a FREE Old Jailhouse Museum tour ticket.
Regular hours for Museums apply the rest of the week.
Residents, please bring a photo id with your current address, or a utility bill with photo id. Regular museum admission applies to non-county residents. Egg drop fee is in addition to museum admission.
Group-build a secure, drop-proof egg carton in the courtroom (or at home) for 1 raw egg.
For $10 you get the egg, building supplies and 3 chances to hit the target from the balcony level (80 feet) of the Old Courthouse tower.
Hit the target and the egg survives, win a prize. Hit the target and the egg does not survive, you still get a prize.Tower is open only to those participating in the egg drop.
Egg Drop is during our Free Museum Admission Week for Washington County Residents. Residents, please bring a photo id with your current address, or a utility bill with photo id. Regular museum admission applies to non-county residents. Egg drop fee is in addition to museum admission.
The primary mission of the Research Center and Archives at the Washington County Historical Society is to collect, preserve, and make accessible materials that concern the history of Washington County and the people who have made it home.
The Research Center and Archives is located on the third floor of the Old Courthouse Museum at 320 S. 5th Avenue in West Bend. We do conduct research for those who are unable to visit. Click the icon below to make a Request for Research.
Visit The Research Center
Curator of Archives
Research Center Assistant
Wednesday – Friday 11am to 5pm
Saturday (1st and 3rd of month only) – 9am to 1pm
Closed the first two weeks in January for inventory.
Appointments are recommended. **Please allow a minimum of 1 hour for research**
Daily Research Fee: $5/person, daily fee is waived for HCWC members. To become a member click here.
Photocopies: $0.25/letter $0.50/ledger
Photo Reproductions: Call for pricing
Research Requests: $25 for the first hour and $20 for each additional hour
Please note that the Research Center does not accept credit cards at this time. Cash or Check only.
- Please verify that we are open the day you are planning your visit by calling 262.335.4678
- Please note that for large research requests or projects it may take us some time to gather materials. When organizing your project please keep that in mind. Large requests for information without at least 3 weeks notice will incur an additional fee.
- Be sure to bring cash or checks. As of right now the Research Center does not accept credit cards.
- With a group of 4 or more please call ahead to make an appointment.
- Materials are for use in Reading Room only. Materials are non-circulating.
- Feel free to bring your laptop, but know that we do not have public access to our wi-fi.
- Pencils are to be used in the Reading Room. No pens.
- Scanners of any kind are not allowed.
- Briefcases, bags, backpacks, purses and laptop bags are not allowed.
- No food or beverages.
- In respect of fellow researchers no cell phones. (If you must have phone access, use vibrate setting and take calls in lobby)
- No adhesive materials such as sticky notes or gum.
- We reserve the right to refuse copy requests.
Resources and Collections
The Collections of the Research Center and Archives only concern Washington County. Materials can be accessed in the Reading Room. Some of our materials are shared here in our Digital Collection.
- Church and Cemetery Records – Consists of copies of church records and cemeteries of Washington County.
- Local History Books
- City Directories and Telephone books
- Photograph Collection – Consists of over 16,000 photographs of Washington County. Reproductions can be made of most of the images in this collection.
- Probate Court Records– Contains 7,600 case files beginning in the 1850’s
- County Newspapers on Microfilm
- Census Records on Microfilm
- Naturalization Records on Microfilm
- Map Collection– Includes Plat Maps (digitized versions can be found here), Sanborn Maps, City Maps as well as others.
- Real Estate Assessment and Personal Property Tax Rolls
- Note: Not all townships, villages, cities, and years are available.
- School Records – The collection consists of school censuses, annual reports, ledgers, and newspaper clippings for the schools of Washington County.
- Surname Files– The Surname Files are files on individuals who lived in Washington County that we have information on.
- General Vertical Files (Additional Resources)– The Additional Resource files are an assortment of subjects, businesses, and industry in one location.