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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Wisconsin State Prison (Waupun Correctional Institution)


After Wisconsin became a state in 1848, it authorized a state prison to be built at Waupun. This opened in July 1851 and housed adult men and women until 1933, when a separate women's prison was built. During the 1860s and 1870s it established a cabinet shop, a shoe shop, a tailor shop, and a wagon factory, and by 1878 sales of their manufactured goods produced enough revenue to run the prison without drawing the state's treasury. Conditions at the prison in the 1880s are described in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 10 no. 4, which can be viewed here. A knitting industry, a twine plant, a cannery, a license plate operation, a print shop, and a laundry were all added between 1893 and 1940. In 1868 a school for prisoners was begun, and in 1886 prisoners published their own newspaper (here). In 1892 three convicts serving life sentences tunneled from the laundry, under the wall and escaped, but were captured the next morning. Between 1916 and 1923 a 22-foot wall around the prison's perimeter was built, and during a 1936 escape attempt, two inmates were shot. In 1957 the state's first maximum security special management unit was built at Waupun.  View early pictures of the state prison at Wisconsin Historical Images. Official reports by supervisors of the Wisconsin prison system and reformatory facilities can be found in the Wisconsin Blue Book, published every two years since the 1850s.

[Source: A Brief History of the Department of Corrections ( (Madison, Wis.?: Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, 2002?) ]

86 records found

Wabashaw Prairie
Wade House
wall rock (mining)
Walworth County Ploughboys (Civil War)
Wanagan (logging)
War of 1812
Washington Island
Waterloo Rifles (Civil War)
waterspout (meteorology)
Watertown German Volunteers (Civil War)
Watertown Irish Company (Civil War)
Watertown Rifles (Civil War)
wattle (farming)
Wau [origin of place name]
Waukesha Minute Men (Civil War)
Waukesha Union Guard (Civil War)
Waupacca and Portage County Union Rifles (Civil Wa
Waupun Light Guard (Civil War)
Waupun Rifles (Civil War)
way car (railroads)
wear [weir] (farming)
weather deck (maritime)
wheat cultivation
wheel (maritime)
wheelsman (maritime)
whey (farming)
Whiffletree-neckyoke (logging)
Whig Party
Whiskey-jack (logging)
Whitaker Guards (Civil War)
Whitewater (Civil War)
Whitewater Co. No. 3 (Civil War)
Widow-maker (logging)
wild cats
wild rice
Wilderness, Battle of the
Williamstown Union Rifles (Civil War)
winch (maritime)
Wind-fall (logging)
windlass (farming)
windlass (maritime)
Wing-dam (logging)
Wing-ding (logging)
Wing-jam (logging)
Winnebago Rapids
Winnebago War (1827)
Wisconsin (oldest cities and towns)
Wisconsin (state)
Wisconsin (statistics)
Wisconsin (territory)
Wisconsin Blue Book
Wisconsin Chair Co.
Wisconsin Dairymen's Association
Wisconsin Dance Bands
Wisconsin Emigrant Agency
Wisconsin Equal Rights Law (1921)
Wisconsin Federation of Women's Clubs (WFWC)
Wisconsin Home for Women (Taycheedah Correctional
Wisconsin Idea
Wisconsin Light Guard (Civil War)
Wisconsin state fair
Wisconsin State Federation of Labor
Wisconsin State flag
Wisconsin State Prison (Waupun Correctional Instit
Wisconsin Union Riflemen (Civil War)
Wisconsin Veterans' Home (Waupaca)
Wisconsin Yagers (Civil War)
withers (farming)
Witness-tree (logging)
woman suffrage movement
Woman's Christian Temperance Union
Wood Protectors (Civil War)
Woodland culture (archaeology)
works (Civil War)
World War One (1914-1918)
World War Two (1939-1945)
World's Columbian Exposition
worm gear (maritime)
WPA (in Wisconsin)
Wylie Guards (Civil War military unit)

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