About the Henry and Elizabeth Baird Papers (1798-1937) Collection
The Society holds the papers of Henry and Elizabeth Baird from 1798 to 1937. These prominent settlers either participated in or witnessed the birth and growth of Wisconsin over the course of the 19th century.
How the Henry and Elizabeth Baird Papers Are Organized
Approximately 70 percent of the manuscripts have been digitized. The digital collection includes the correspondence and selected business, family and personal papers.
- View online documents from Henry and Elizabeth Baird in the Society's collections.
The Henry and Elizabeth Baird Papers are arranged into seven series:
- Series 1: Correspondence
- Series 2 & 3: Business papers and personal financial records
- Series 4: Writings
- Series 5: Scrapbooks and clippings
- Series 6: Miscellaneous volumes
- Series 7: Miscellaneous
Series 1 is by far the richest portion of the series. Bairds' complete correspondence is available online — 3,865 pages in 17 folders. The correspondence is arranged in chronological order, with undated letters in alphabetical order at the end.
- Elizabeth exchanged letters often with her French-Canadian and metis (mixed-race) relatives, and preserved many others written by her forebears. These family letters, from 1798 to the 1830s (many of them in French), reveal much about Wisconsin during the Fur Trade Era.
- Letters from the 1830s onward include both incoming and outgoing correspondence of Henry Baird on business, legal, and political matters.
- Noteworthy correspondents include U.S. President John Quincy Adams; Indian activist Eleazer Williams; U.S. Secretary of War George W. Crawford; Governor Hamilton Fish of New York; Wisconsin governors Henry Dodge, James Doty, and Lucius Fairchild; Astor fur trade agent Ramsay Crooks; and members of the Hercules T. Dousman family.
- Significant groups of letters document the Civil War draft in 1862 and relief efforts following the Peshtigo Fire of 1871.
Series 2 through Series 7 were scanned selectively because many documents were considered to be of little interest to most researchers. About 400 pages were scanned from 10 folders. You can view the following documents online:
- Baird's contemporary notes on the trial of Menominee chief Oshkosh for murder in 1830.
- Military records Baird created during the Black Hawk War of 1832.
- Baird's notes on Indian treaty negotiations during the 1830s.
- Notebooks in American Indian languages.
- Autobiographical essays written by both Henry and Elizabeth between 1870 and 1890.
The original Baird manuscripts are available in the Society's Archives. They fill five archive boxes and one flat box. See a complete box-by-box inventory of all Baird papers in the Archives available for research.
Checking Out Materials
Unpublished materials in the Archives do not circulate. However, they can sent to any of our 13 Area Research Centers around the state for viewing.
Photocopies of documents in the physical collections are available for a fee.
How to Cite
Bibliographic data will appear below each online document. Copy and paste the bibliographic data into your preferred citation manager.
For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model:
- Henry and Elizabeth Baird Collection Citation
- Wisconsin Historical Society. Title/Creator, Title, Source, Electronic Publisher, Electronic Publication Date. Viewed online at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/ on [insert today's date here]
Rights and Permissions
Online documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers and students, or for private use by individual researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission from the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Contact our Library and Archives staff by email.