Collage of historic photos.

Historical Figures in Wisconsin

Learn about the lives of your favorite Wisconsin historical figures, from the famous to infamous, and their contributions to our state's history.

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Search by keyword below to find information on historical figures in Wisconsin.

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Historical Essay

Williams, Eleazer 1788-1858

Canadian Clergyman, Missionary and Con Artist

Biography of Eleazer Williams, a Canadian clergyman and missionary who claimed to be the French Lost Dauphin.

Historical Essay

Spooner, John Coit 1843-1919

Lawyer and Politician

Biography of John Coit Spooner who was a lawyer and politician, known as a leading Stalwart Republican.

Historical Essay

Nicolet, Jean 1598-1642

French Explorer

Biography of French explorer Jean Nicolet, believed to be the first European to see Wisconsin.

Historical Essay

Nelson, Gaylord, 1916-2005

Founder of Earth Day

This Wisconsin Senator, best known as the founder of Earth Day, championed the preservation of the environment and natural resources.

Land Speculator and Businessman

Biography of fur trader, lumberman, land speculator and businessman Hercules Louis Dousman.

WWII Air Ace

Discover the history of WWII air ace Richard Bong.

Zoologist, Professor and University President

Biography of zoologist and professor Edward Asahel Birge who was president of the University of Wisconsin from 1918 to 1925.

Wisconsin Civil War Officer, Three-Term Wisconsin Governor, U.S. Diplomat

Historical Essay

Cadotte, Michael, 1764-1837

Pioneer Fur Trader

Brief biography of pioneer fur trader Michael Cadotte.

Historical Essay

Paine, Byron, 1827-1871

Civil Rights Law

Learn about the Milwaukee based lawyer who won two of Wisconsin's most important civil rights cases and was on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
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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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