25,000 pages from the Society's manuscript collections on Civil Rights are now available online. They focus on 1964's Mississippi Freedom Summer project, in which thousands of local African-American residents were joined by hundreds of northern volunteers to challenge segregation and secure voting rights. View photos, letters, diaries, pamphlets, memos, and much more. Download a free PowerPoint and Sourcebook of key documents.
Wisconsin Heritage Online has a new name and much-enhanced Web site. It's a statewide consortium of historical organizations sharing pictures, books, manuscripts, maps and museum artifacts on the Web. Now you can also share your own stories and connect with other people who love history. Enjoy 100,000 items from more than 80 Wisconsin historical organizations at Recollection Wisconsin.
This digital collection should be your first stop for information about Wisconsin in the Civil War. Built for the 150th anniversary of the war, the collection answers basic questions and displays more than 20,000 pages of original historical documents. Browse soldiers' diaries and letters, view 1,000 pictures and maps, peruse contemporary newspaper accounts, and read compelling true stories.
Discover the richest online source about this famous senator from Wisconsin. Explore more than 7,500 pages of articles, press releases, photos, and more, plus 40 oral history interviews. Learn how he battled to curb federal waste and fought for taxpayers over more than three decades. Examine his famous "Golden Fleece" awards and view dozens of pictures.
Over the next few weeks, we're all likely to see lots of news coverage of Wisconsin's recall elections. Like everything else, they have a history. Did you know, for example, that our original constitution made no provision for recalling elected officials? Or that some recalls were organized by party leaders to chastise their own rebellious office holders? Get the facts in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History.
Every day we add more historical images to our online collection, Wisconsin Historical Images. Not just Wisconsin, but the whole country. Not only candid snapshots, but work by major photographers. And not only photographs, but also posters, engravings, lithographs, maps and more. Poke around in more than 55,000 historic images by following the link above.
Nearly 4,000 artifacts are available for viewing online. Categories include paintings, dolls, quilts, moccasins, samplers, children's clothing, ceramic art and objects chosen as Curators' Favorites. In addition, the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database features 19th and early 20th century material culture artifacts from the collections of local historical societies around the state.
Labor issues have pushed Wisconsin in front of the national media in recent days. To keep these current events in their proper historical context, here are some primary documents about the birth of the labor movement in 19th-century Wisconsin, Progressive Era reforms such as workers' compensation, and images of historic strikes and lockouts. You'll find more in the archives of our Wisconsin Magazine of History.
A Capitol Idea
Images of our state Capitol have splashed across millions of TV screens, laptops, and cell phones lately. The history of the building is explained in this photo gallery about the 1904 fire that destroyed its predecessor. The current building rose like a phoenix from the ashes a century ago. Recent demonstrations, by the way, have caused no visible damage to the majestic edifice.
If you were trapped inside by the blizzard, you might enjoy taking a look at these photographs of past snowstorms in Wisconsin history. The latest storm always feels like the worst, especially when one first steps outside, shovel in hand. These images will put it all in perspective.
With only a few days to go until the Super Bowl, you might enjoy poking around in Packers history. We've put more than 1,000 pages online, including yearbooks, programs, photos, advertising, and wonderful articles from past issues of the Wisconsin Magazine of History. Just click above to start.
We recently launched our online collection of historical maps. Ranging in date from 1584 to 2010, these include everything from gorgeous early explorers' maps to simple outline maps suitable for classroom use. Thematic maps illustrate social conditions in 19th- and 20th-century Wisconsin and birds-eye views make great gifts for framing. More than 500 maps are now available, and more will be added each week.
We all get together with family around the holidays. If you want to explore your family history, try this index to more than 2.5 million Wisconsin birth, marriage and death certificates. You'll also find listings for more than 150,000 obituaries and biographical sketches.
April 22, 2010, marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the day set aside each year since 1970 to promote awareness and appreciation for the earth's environment. Wisconsin's native son, former Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, founded Earth Day. This year, in honor of its 40th anniversary, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies has launched a new website called Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day.
March is Women's History Month. Visit our page on Wisconsin women for a short history, with live links to women's writings, eyewitness accounts of important events, and other primary sources. You can find also hundreds of pictures of women at Wisconsin Historical Images, and dozens of articles on Wisconsin women's history in the archives of our Wisconsin Magazine of History. All free, all the time.
Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Three decades ago, Wisconsin Historical Society staff interviewed 22 survivors of the Nazi Holocaust who settled in our state. The complete audio recordings and typed transcripts of those interviews are now available online. Browse excerpts, jump to specific topics, view photos, and download classroom resources at the new Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust digital collection.
Little House Letters
More than two dozen original handwritten letters by relatives of Laura Ingalls Wilder are online at Turning Points in Wisconsin History. One by "Ma Ingalls" from 1861 describes her life as a new bride. Others were written by Laura's uncles from Civil War battlefields. Altogether, they total nearly 100 pages and reveal the true-life grown-ups that Laura portrayed in her books.
New Labor History Requirement
Gov. Doyle recently signed Assembly Bill 172, which requires schools to teach labor history. Original documents on the birth of the labor movement in Wisconsin are online at Turning Points in Wisconsin History and a lesson plan for secondary grades that uses some of these materials, "The Bay View Tragedy of 1886," is also available.
We recently put more than 80 standard county histories online. The collection totals about 56,000 pages and is being enthusiastically welcomed by genealogists, local historians, archivists and public librarians. These books typically were published 1880-1920 and contain several hundred pages filled with pioneer recollections and other local data that was not recorded anywhere else. Have a look.
Almost 10,000 entries — biographies, place names, terms from American Indian languages and French, and the peculiar jargon of fur traders, farmers and lumberjacks. How long was a league? Where did the name of your town come from? Why are the Packers called the Packers?
We've put more than 40,000 historical photographs online, and you can order high-quality reproductions directly from the site. Browse more than 30 galleries created by our photo archivists, or search for specific places, people, topics, or events. Thousands of people check it out each day.
The famous influenza outbreak of 1918-1919 sickened more than 100,000 people in Wisconsin and claimed 8,459 lives. A brief description of how officials responded is online in our Dictionary of Wisconsin History, where you'll also find links to historical documents and a reliable, modern analysis of the 1918 flu epidemic in Wisconsin.
African Americans came to Wisconsin in the early 1700s, long before Yankees, Germans or Norwegians. Read about Black fur traders, a Wisconsin slave who sued his owner in court for back wages, and much more. A short history and more than 30 rare documents are just a click away.
Thousands of us are trying to clean up and dry out after the amazing storms and floods of recent weeks. When the worst is over, take a break and look into how your ancestors coped at times like these. Read about earlier floods and historic tornadoes in the Dictionary of Wisconsin History, where you'll also find links to contemporary pictures and accounts.
Join author, teacher and TV host Eric Smith on May 5th for a morning session on African-American family history. Learn about the unique records created during slavery, Reconstruction, and later eras that enable research into the family histories of Black Americans. This event is part of our spring series of genealogy workshops.
In 1842 teenager Caroline Quarlls made a daring escape from slave-catchers, traveling from St. Louis to Wisconsin and on into Canada. This brand-new biography for young readers gives a compelling account of the tension-filled journey of a brave young woman. Original documents about Quarlls are also online at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.
Jan. 21: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
"Your actions inspire me deeply…" So wrote Martin Luther King Jr. to Fr. James Groppi on Sept. 4, 1967, at the height of Milwaukee's civil rights demonstrations. This Martin Luther King Day, read the account of those times by Fr. Groppi's widow in the Wisconsin Magazine of History and see original documents at Turning Points in Wisconsin History.
With the Packers now one step closer to the Super Bowl, you may want to pick up our new biography of the man who started it all, part of the Badger Biographies series for young readers. There's lots of Packers history online free at Turning Points in Wisconsin History, too.
Check out more than 200 rare Wisconsin artifacts (and the stories behind them) at this site created by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Univ. of Wisconsin, and the Chipstone Foundation. It includes not only fine antiques and traditional crafts, but oddities such as this box carved by an Eau Claire lumberjack from a tree that fell on him.
The Hmong are among recent immigrants to Wisconsin from Asia. Read a teenager's harrowing account of her journey from Laos, and learn how she and her compatriots were greeted. Young readers will enjoy the story of Mai Ya Xiong, who came to Wisconsin in 1987.
A second printing of the 100 most "amusing, perplexing, and unlikely stories from Wisconsin's past" has had to be ordered. Get your copy of this 200-page book, complete with dozens of illustrations, before they're all gone. It's the perfect gift for that puzzling eccentric friend on your holiday gift list.
From oil paintings to Cheeseheads, from the Milwaukee Braves to potato chips, see digital re-creations of 15 of our most popular museum exhibits from years past.
You can now read every page of every issue (except the current one) for free — 1,800 feature articles about Wisconsin people, places, and events. The current issue is described at right.
In a partnership with Wisconsin Public Television, a dozen collections of letters (and one diary) by Wisconsin men and women who served in World War Two have just been added (here) to Turning Points.
This final installment of documents includes several different accounts of the massacre at Bad Axe, conflicting versions of Black Hawk's surrender, and a chronology of the war's aftermath.
As the nation celebrates the 400th anniversary of Jamestown this month, you can read eyewitness accounts of the colony here. These include George Percy's description of the voyage and John Smith's tribute to Pocahontas.
Nearly 50 local and regional events are scheduled around the state over the next few weeks to celebrate Wisconsin's local history, prehistoric sites, and built environments. Click above to see what's happening near you.
Sources on Madison history, all in one place. This site was made for the city's sesquicentennial in 2006 and leads to information on all aspects of our state capital's past.
Spring's approaching. It's time to plan your trip to the shipwrecks that dot Wisconsin's coastline. Learn how you can explore our state's shipwrecks from the comfort of your living room, a hike on the beach, or even a trip underwater.
From 18th-century black fur traders to Milwaukee school desegregation and beyond, this site leads to pictures, documents, and original essays on three centuries of life in Wisconsin for African Americans.
On May 9, five leaders in environment and conservation, business, sports, technology and public service will be honored at our annual History Makers Gala. Please join us in celebrating their remarkable achievements.
This collection of documents, publications and photographs of International Harvester machines is a perennial favorite. Also see a collection of posters at Art of the Draw.
Wisconsin's rich history spreads across the state — a living quilt of time, land, values and beliefs that forms the collective memory of who we are and where we came from.