Historical society libraries have remained a largely neglected area of library history. In this article, I examine the particular story of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin through the first two generations of its leadership to illuminate broader issues about the role and function of historical society libraries, both in their contribution to the story of the development of American libraries in the period 1860-1910 and their role in shaping historical consciousness and identity. Historical society libraries sought to create a usable past in the form of the material texts of state history that could inform and instruct. Alongside the emerging historical profession, with which they established a vital and symbiotic relationship, historical society libraries played an essential part in shaping the American nation's historical sensibilities.


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pp. 13-35
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