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

The Crowning of King James

Wisconsin's Brigham Young

Discover the history of early Mormon leader James J. Strang, self-proclaimed successor to Joseph Smith.

An Unreliable Text and Other Evidence

Wisconsin History books teach that Jean Nicolet was the first white person to reach the state, but he may have been the second.

Witnesses Tell Their Stories

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

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.

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

Historical Essay

Pierce, Hattie, 1829-1944

Born into slavery, Hattie Pierce lived 115 years and was able to fully experience both life before and after emancipation.

A Disappointment that Created a Community

Learn about the most successful Utopian community in Wisconsin, born of a failed doomsday prediction.

Historical Essay

Labor Day in Wisconsin

Beyond Beer and Brats

Explore the history of Labor Day celebrations in Wisconsin.

Historical Essay

The Origins of Thanksgiving

It's not What You Might Think

Discover the historical evidence of the first Thanksgiving.

Historical Essay

The Birth of Lake Delton

Learn about the rise of Wisconsin Dells tourism, and read about the creation and collapse of the man-made river it was founded on.
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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.