11 La Crosse History & Genealogy Resources You Can Use from Home

Posted by Jenny on March 27, 2020

(written by Jenny DeRocher, Archives staff)

Sad the Archives Department is closed? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here is a guide to using our website to access digitized materials, subscription databases, and other free resources.

Things to keep in mind as you read:

  • During our period of closure, the Archives staff is diligently trying to answer reference questions M-F 9-5, typically within 24 hours. If you have questions about doing research from home or the resources listed in this blog, don't hesitate to reach out by calling at (608) 789-7136 or emailing at archives@lacrosselibrary.org.
  • Because there are hundreds of free and reliable genealogy resources online, if you are looking for specific guidance in doing family history research, email the Archives and we can point you in the right direction of what resources will fit your research best. 
  • Each of the resources listed below are available through portals on our website. You may need a Winding Rivers Library System (WRLS) library card to access some of these resources. If you find that your library card needs to be renewed, or if you do not have a library card and would like to use these resources, please contact Archives staff. 

Note: wording in CAPS is to communicate webpages on the LPLA site (archives.lacrosselibrary.org). Clickable links featured on the LPLA site that may guide you off of the site are communicated through bold italics. 

Free Genealogy and Local History Digital Resources

1) Historic newspapers 


Go to LOCAL HISTORY > NEWSPAPERS to find portals into three databases with historic newspapers: 

  • NewspaperArchive: access to the La Crosse Tribune 1904-1977 (also select newspapers from around the world). This database is accessible only to City of La Crosse residents with WRLS library cards.  

  • Newspapers.com: access to the La Crosse Tribune 1905-1963 (also select newspapers from around the world). This database is accessible only to Wisconsin residents through BadgerLink, which you will need a library card to verify. 

  • Archive of Wisconsin Newspapers: search newspapers from all over the state from 2005-90 days ago. This database is accessible only to Wisconsin residents through BadgerLink, which you will need a library card to verify. 

2) La Crosse Area Genealogy Database 


Go to GENEALOGY > GENEALOGY DATABASE to find a searchable index that includes citations of articles that appeared in La Crosse area newspapers. The index includes:  

  • obituaries (bulk 1904-1979; 1983-2016) 

  • births (1987-2015) 

  • marriages (1987-2015) 

  • divorces (1992-2015) 

  • La Crosse County cemetery listings 

If the newspaper articles in your results are between the years 1904-1963 or after 2005, you may be able to find your article in one of the databases listed under #1. If your results show citations before 1904 or between 1963-2005, contact the Archives and staff members may be able to help locate your article during Library closure.  

3) Genealogy sites and records 


Go to GENEALOGY to find buttons to three free or subscription genealogy sites: 

  • Ancestry.com Library Edition: typically, you need to be connected to Library wi-fi to use Ancestry.com Library Edition, however Ancestry has allowed us to make the Library Edition available to city of La Crosse cardholders at home during the COVID-19 crisis. If you are having troubles connecting, please contact Archives staff. 

  • FamilySearch is free. You do need to create an account with your email, but once you do, you have access to many of the same digitized records as Ancestry.com Library Edition (though not all). 

  • HeritageQuest is accessible to Wisconsin residents through BadgerLink. You will need a library card to verify this. 

If you cannot access Ancestry.com Library Edition and would like help finding a specific record, please contact Archives staff, who may be able to help find resources during Library closure. 


4) Maps & atlases


Go to LOCAL HISTORY > MAPS & ATLASES to find links to a handful of databases. 

  • Each database will allow you to search hundreds of digitized maps and atlases of the La Crosse area. 

5) Historic photographs 


Go to LOCAL HISTORY > PHOTOGRAPHS, where you will find a link to ECHO. 

  • Exploring Cultural History Online (ECHO) is a regional online collection of photographs and postcards representing western Wisconsin history and culture. The images are digitized as a result of a collaboration between libraries in the Winding Rivers Library System. 

6) City Directories


Go to LOCAL HISTORY > CITY & COUNTY DIRECTORIES and click on the Available Online” portal. 

  • La Crosse City Directories are available online from 1866-1924. This site allows you to search, print, and download pages from the directories. 

7) Our Stories: Lite reads about La Crosse history 



  • LPLA has published semi-weekly blogs about various topics, people, and places in La Crosse history since 2014. You can also search to find blogs by using the search bar at the top right of the website. 


8) Virtual walking tours 


Go to LOCAL HISTORY, click on Footsteps of La Crosse. 

  • LPLA’s footstepsoflacrosse.org has 13 virtual walking tours featuring various La Crosse neighborhoods and historic landmarks. Each tour displays current and historical photos so you can compare how our built environment has changed through the years from the computer at your home. These are also downloadable for self-guiding and the site is mobile-friendly, if you are up for a walk or drive. 


9) Hidden Treasures: LPLA’s YouTube channel


Go to LOCAL HISTORY, click on YouTube Channel. 

  • View a handful of historic sites from Footsteps tours in two teaser trailers, a "behind the scenes" tour of our archival vault, and an overview on how to access La Crosse Tribune articles.  


10) Dark La Crosse Stories 


Go to LOCAL HISTORY, click on Dark La Crosse Stories. 

  • Travel back in time and explore the seedier side of La Crosse history with this video series made in collaboration with the La Crosse Tribune. 


11) La Crosse History Unbound 

Go to LOCAL HISTORY, click on La Crosse Hisory Unbound. 
  • This site is a collection of digitized archival material and resources. La Crosse History Unbound’s collections are organized by subject to keep searching simple. The physical materials that are available on this site are held at both LPLA and UWL Murphy Library Special Collections and Area Research Center.