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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Argument and an Unpopular Choice

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

Historical Essay

When Beer Was Almost Illegal

A Popular Speaker Sways Opinion

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

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

The Civil Right's Leader Shows his Support

Discover the connection Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King had with the 1960s protests in Milwaukee.

Historical Essay

Louise Williams

First Woman Notary Public

Discover the story of Wisconsin's first woman notary public Louise Williams who provided legal counsel for southern Wisconsin after the Civil War.

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

Historical Essay

The Trial of Chief Oshkosh

The Clash of U.S Law and Indian Legal Tradition

Learn how the trial of Menominee Chief Oshkosh, one of the most famous in Wisconsin history, pitted Indian traditional justice against white man's law.

A Dishonest Democrat and a Radical Republican

Learn about the election that was so close that Wisconsin briefly had two governors until one was exposed for tampering with ballots.

Evidence of First Feasts

Take a look at some first hand accounts of the ways Native Americans of Wisconsin celebrated their own Thanksgiving ceremonies.

Historical Essay

Another Time's Norms

The Antiquated Belief of a Chief Justice

Discover Wisconsin Chief Justice Edward G. Ryan's opinion on women and 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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