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

Petersylvania, Wisconsin

A Bizarre Story of Land Prospecting Gone Awry

Read the amazing story of a man who watched his potential 10,000-square-mile northern Wisconsin empire disappear into thin air.

From Whaling to Coal Burning

Discover how man-made lighting has become a common part of our everyday lives.

The story of Mary Hayes-Chynoweth, one of Wisconsin's best-known mystics who also predicted the future on a number of occasions.

Historical Essay

Reform of Military Hospitals

How One Woman Changed Wisconsin During the Civil War

Discover how Cordelia Harvey's mission to reform hospitals during the Civil War would change Wisconsin forever.

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 Popular Swindler

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

Argument and an Unpopular Choice

Discover how Madison became the capitol city during the first Wisconsin territorial convention

The Conflict of Modern and Traditional Medicine

Discover the history of smallpox in Wisconsin and the public's reaction against hospitalization

Civil War Battle Summary

Discover the role that Wisconsin troops, including Menominee warriors and our only unit of Black soldiers, played in a dramatic Civil War battle.

Hero of the Confederacy

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