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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Read about the life of this influential Wisconsonite and his contributions to the field of architecture. Article includes links to many primary sources.

Historical Essay

Stevens, Brooks, 1911-1995

Industrial Designer

Learn more about this Milwaukeean whose life's work greatly influenced the field of industrial design and the art of salesmanship.

Brief biography of newspaperman and eventual Governor (1891-1895)

Historical Essay

Bartlett, Tommy (1914-1998)

This Milwaukeean's prolific life in the entertainment business helped transform the Wisconsin Dells into the major tourist destination it is today.

Brief biography of Reuben Gold Thwaites

Brief biography of Reuben Gold Thwaites managing editor of the WI State Journal and historian who was "the best known non-political man in Wisconsin."

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.

Historical Essay

Paul Bunyan

America's Best-Known Folk Hero

Read about America's best-known folk hero. This article details the extensive folklore tradition surrounding the legacy of Paul Bunyan.

Historical Essay

Orson Welles, 1915-1985

Cinematic Visionary

Learn about this Wisconsin-born director, his relationship with the film industry, and his lasting legacy as a filmmaker.

Historical Essay

Gale, Zona, 1874-1938

Pulitzer Prize for Drama

This novelist based much of her writings on her hometown of Portage, Wisconsin. She became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Historical Essay

Edwin Witte, 1887-1960

Father of the Social Security Act

Learn about this Wisconsin-born economist and his active role in the development of the Social Security Act.
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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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