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Wisconsin Public Records

The Wisconsin Public Records Law, found in Chapter 19.21 of the Wisconsin Code of Statutes, entitles the public to access to public records. Examples include written or typed pages, charts, maps, optical disks, photographs, films, recordings, tapes, and computer printouts.

Exceptions include: personally identifiable information that would endanger the life of an individual, or the security of the population; records of active investigations; trade secrets; computer programs; personnel records; plans for state buildings; and personal financial information.

On this page you’ll find the statewide resources most commonly requested by researchers.  For other databases, such as those in Wisconsin cities and counties, use the side tools on the left.

  • Court System - The Wisconsin court system has four levels. At the first level are Municipal Courts, which handle traffic & ordinance violations, juvenile offenses. At the second are Circuit Courts, which have original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters, including misdemeanor, felony, probate, juvenile, traffic, and small claims matters. Third is the Court of Appeals, which reviews decisions by the lower courts. Fourth is the Supreme Court, which has discretion to determine which appeals it will hear. It may also hear original cases not brought before a lower court.  Wisconsin Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Infractions and violations are handled by Municipal Courts, while misdemeanors and felonies are handled by Circuit Courts. For statewide Circuit Court criminal records, inmates, and other records, go to our Wisconsin Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records – If you wish to order birth, death, marriage & divorce certificates, write to: Wisconsin Division of Health, Vital Records, 1 West Wilson Street, Rm 158, P.O. Box 309, Madison, WI 53701, (608) 266-1371, Fax: (608) 255-2035.  Visit our Vital Records page to find statewide historical birth indexes, birth records from available counties; the Social Security Death Index for Wisconsin, historical statewide death & burial databases; death records, cemetery indexes & obituaries from available cities & counties; historical statewide marriages, marriage databases from available cities & counties; and links to statewide Circuit Court divorce databases.

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