Manitowoc County Historical Collection Archives
Discovering your family’s history is an amazing journey. Census records, newspaper articles, photographs, and other artifacts hold the keys to a past we can only imagine. Our local history archives may be able to help you in your search.
- The library houses city and county directories from 1864 to the present. Indexes of cemeteries and ghost parishes are also preserved. A proper name index card file of people named in local newspapers and other important publications are maintained from about 1850 to 1970.
- Our archives also includes various one-room school materials, attendance records, and yearbooks.
- A collection of early Manitowoc newspapers is also available for limited examination and referencing.
- Also available are county plat maps dating from 1872 to present.
- The Manitowoc County Historical Collection is also home to thousands of images and documents. Archive materials can be accessed for our County's cities, towns, and rural villages.
- Oral histories have also been collected and are available in various formats on a wide-range of subjects.
While there is not a charge for research requests, donations are very much appreciated so we are able to continue the great work of preserving our local heritage.
Please contact us at (920) 684-4445 to make a research appointment or fill out our form. Our library is staffed through volunteer effort and we appreciate your understanding in letting us know you would like to plan a visit.
A hallmark of our local history collection is a group of over one thousand negatives taken from 1940-1980 by local photographer Daryl Cornick.
Francis M. Kadow was born in 1899 and grew up in Manitowoc. He left school at age 16 to help his father run the Mikadow Theater, which opened in 1916. He eventually owned and operated both the theater and the radio station WOMT, headquartered on the second floor of the theater. Kadow was also an amateur photographer and took photos of Manitowoc that are included in this collection.
Aluminum Goods/ Mirro Collection
The Mirro Collection is a treasure of the Aluminum Goods legacy in the people of Manitowoc County. The collection includes objects, archives, and photos. Rarely seen design work and marketing materials are included in the collection.
Hermann C. Benke documented the city and surrounding county in portraits and postcards for 20 years. Benke was born in Zempelburg, Germany, in 1869. His family immigrated to the United States in 1872, eventually settling in Kansas. Hermann finished school and became a teacher at age 17, with photography as his hobby. His collection includes images taken from 1894 to about 1915. When he moved to Manitowoc, Benke took advantage of the penny postcard craze and made a suitable living photographing the city’s scenes and events and then printing postcards. When a convention was in town, he would photograph the parade or city decorations and have postcards available for attendees the next day.