The Wisconsin Historical Society, established in 1846 and chartered in 1853, is the oldest historical society in the U.S. to have received continuous state funding. Its library and archives have long provided essential resources for historical scholarship, especially (but not only) for U.S. historians. The Historical Society’s current building on Library Mall opened in 1900 and housed both the Historical Society collections and, until 1950, the University Library.
On the history of historical societies in the U.S., see Robert B. Townsend, History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 (2013).
Sources: “The Executive Branch” in State of Wisconsin 2015-2016 Blue Book, comp. Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (2015), 421-422; Jim Feldman, “Historical Society,” The Buildings of the University of Wisconsin (1997), 82-84.