Baird Manuscripts Go Online
Some of the Wisconsin Historical Society's most heavily used manuscripts about early Wisconsin are now available for free on the Society's website. Elizabeth Fisher Baird (1810-1890) and her husband, Henry Samuel Baird (1800-1875), had a hand in almost every important aspect of Wisconsin's formative years, from the French fur trade era to the Gilded Age. When Elizabeth died in 1890, she left six boxes of papers dating back a century. Her descendants donated them to the Society between 1941 and 1962.
About the Manuscripts
The correspondence is by far the richest part of the collection. Dating back to 1798, letters to and from the Baird family show Wisconsin's transformation from unbroken forest and prairie into thousands of bustling cities and farms.
Henry Baird's professional records and business correspondence include his notes on the 1830 trial of Menominee chief Oshkosh, a muster roll from the 1832 Black Hawk War, letters to Elizabeth written from the first meeting of the legislature at Belmont in 1836, and records of Indian treaty negotiations. Both he and Elizabeth also left a variety of memoirs and autobiographical sketches.
The Baird manuscripts total more than 5,000 pages and have traveled often through the Area Research Center network. They are cited in many scholarly papers and formed the basis of Beverley Smith's article, "A Frontier Marriage" ("Voyageur: Northeast Wisconsin's Historical Review," December 2001).
About the Digital Collection
The new digital version of the collection contains all the Baird correspondence (3,865 pages in 17 folders) and selected business, family and personal papers (about 400 pages selected from 10 folders). Researchers can browse abstracts and then leap right to the first page of any folder that interests them. Every manuscript page has been scanned in full color and can be magnified, printed or downloaded. No keyword searches are possible because the documents were never typed; users turn each page on their screen, just as they would handle the original documents.
Other online resources about Henry and Elizabeth Baird include the following.
:: Posted June 21, 2010