Collage of historical images.

Wisconsin History Essays

Learn something new about the past and gain a deeper understanding of your world. Hundreds of essays tell the stories of the people, places and events that are Wisconsin history.

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Search by keyword below to find information on Wisconsin's history.

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How One Family Helped Build the Modern Tourist Destination

Discover how Wisconsin Dells came to prominence as a Midwestern tourism institution.

A Popular Swindler

Read about John Till and the miraculous "medical" plaster treatment that led to his arrest by the State Medical Board.

A Priest Follows Another Priest's 300-Year-Old Path to Death

Learn how Rev. A. A. A. Schmirler traced the path Fr. Rene Menard took in 1661 down northern Wisconsin's rivers to the likely spot of his death.

Historical Essay

Sundae Sermon

Defining Sundaes

Was the first ice cream sundae made in Wisconsin or New York? Give this whimsical story a read and come to your own conclusion.

Historical Essay

Louise Williams

First Woman Notary Public

Discover the story of Wisconsin's first woman notary public Louise Williams who provided legal counsel for southern Wisconsin after the Civil War.

The Printer and the Priest

Discover how Wisconsin got its first printing press, and the impact that a Catholic priest would have on Ho-Chunk literacy.

Hero of the Confederacy

Discover the story of Belle Boyd, the celebrity Civil War spy who died while performing in the Wisconsin Dells.

Historical Essay

Death to Capital Punishment

How Wisconsin Eliminated the Death Penalty

Read about the final person to be executed in Wisconsin before the state prohibited the death penalty.

Historical Essay

Wisconsin's First Election

Creating the Wisconsin Territory

Discover the story of Wisconsin's first elections and how the state was divided into its present-day areas.

Discover how two Ojibwe chiefs traveled to Washington DC and negotiated with then-President Millard Fillmore to keep rights to their land.
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Have Questions?

If you have questions about historical research, please contact our Library Reference Services staff by phone at 608-264-6535 or by email.

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