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 Origins of Thanksgiving

It's not What You Might Think

Discover the historical evidence of the first Thanksgiving.

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

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.

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.

Historical Essay

The First Madison Lodgings

From Under a Tree to Madison's Most Popular Lodge

Discover the story surrounding the planning and construction of the first building erected in Madison.

Argument and an Unpopular Choice

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

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

The Constitutional Convention's Influence on the City

Find out where some of the most traveled streets of Madison got their names.

Historical Essay

Fort Koshkonong

A Fortification That may not Have Existed

Learn the story surrounding the building of Fort Koshkonong by General Henry Atkinson.

The Story of Lost Bird

Discover this harrowing story that brings together a feminist pioneer and the infant her husband found in the aftermath of Wounded Knee.
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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.