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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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.

Historical Essay

Madison's First Thanksgiving

The Power of the Pumpkin

Read the story of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in Madison.

Discover the connection between P.T. Barnum and the 1853 statewide referendum on liquor sales and why it failed.

Historical Essay

Milwaukee's Maverick Aviator

Milwaukee's William Mitchell went from a court-martial for insubordination to being widely understood to be the father of the modern U.S. Air Force.

Historical Essay

Labor Day in Wisconsin

Beyond Beer and Brats

Explore the history of Labor Day celebrations in Wisconsin.

Historical Essay

The Man with the Iron Hand

Learn about explorer Robert de La Salle's iron-handed chief lieutenant, Henri de Tonty, and what resulted in most likely the worst winter of his life.

Witnesses Tell Their Stories

Learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor through these firsthand accounts from Wisconsinites who were there when it happened.

Get to know Isaac P. Walker, the first Wisconsin resident to be a presidential candidate contender in 1850.

Historical Essay

Madison's Castle

In the late 1800s there was a castle on the shore of Lake Mendota OTHER than the Red Gym. This is that castle's mysterious story.

The story of Capt. Jonathan Walker whose hand was branded with "S.S." (for "slave stealer") for assisting fugitive slaves.
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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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