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Historical Essay

Benjamin Butts (1853-1930)

One Man's Journey from Slavery to Madison Business Owner to State Assembly Staff Member

Learn about a freed slave's intriguing story as a barber serving Wisconsin's prominent politicians, and as a well-known, beloved face in the capital city.

Historical Essay

Madison's Fur Traders

The First White Men in Madison

The first white residents of Madison were fur traders Wallace Rowan, Olivier Ammel and Michel St. Cyr.

A Historical Look at Service Stations

Photographs of Wisconsin gas stations portray the development of service station architecture.

Read about the desperate 1832 battle near Madison, WI, of the starving Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo Native Americans against the British and the Ho-Chunk.

Wisconsin Civil War Regiment

The 5th Wisconsin Infantry was organized at Camp Randall in Madison and mustered into service for three years on July 12, 1861.

Read the story of Madison's first and most beloved drunkard, Pinneo.

Historical Essay

Big Boy

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Trade figure from the Big Boy restaurant on South Park Street, Madison, Wisconsin, 1971-1985. (Museum object #1993.52)

Wisconsin photographer David Marcou's images of life in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

German bisque doll with her trunk of clothes and accessories, c. 1908. (Museum object #1966.408.1)

Read about the creation of the Wisconsin territory, the formation of a territorial government, and the move of the capital from Belmont to Madison.

Wisconsin Civil War Regiment

Learn about the 44th Wisconsin Infantry, which served in the Civil War at Nashville and Paducah, Kentucky, and lost 58 men.

Historical Essay

John Muir's Clockwork Desk

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Cockwork study desk built by naturalist John Muir while at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1861-1863. (Museum object F1998.85.1)

Discover Madison's Kehl School of Dance through photographs of the performers, public events, dance studio, and other images.

Historical Essay

Madison's First Thanksgiving

The Power of the Pumpkin

Read the story of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in Madison.

Read about African Americans and the struggle for civil rights in Milwaukee and Madison in the 1960s and 1970s.

Learn about Wisconsin's contributions to the Civil War effort, including the Iron Brigade and Old Abe, the war eagle.

The Watercolors of Winifred Ford

Read about the life and career of painter Winifred Ford who created watercolors of historic Madison residences.

Historical Essay

Magician's Escape Trunk

Wisconsin Historical Museum Object – Feature Story

Escape trunk, restraining devices, and curtain used by magician Ben Bergor of Madison, Wisconsin, 1940s. (Museum objects #1982.159.17,19,21,23,25)

View these 19th-century panoramic, detailed maps of Wisconsin communities.
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