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Madison — Celebrating 150 Years

Madison History

Before the arrival of European settlers, the Madison area was home to Native Americans for nearly 12,000 years. Beginning in 1837, Yankee, English, Irish, German and Scandinavian settlers flocked to the rapidly growing community named for James Madison. Known for its natural beauty and healthful conditions, Madison's designation as the capital of Wisconsin guaranteed its growth as a center of state politics and education. By the time Madison became a city in 1856, the community had grown to more than 9,000 residents.

We invite you to investigate Madison's past.

Off-site Resources

You might also be interested in:

  • Dictionary of Wisconsin History
    The Dictionary is the most comprehensive single source of information on Wisconsin History. You may search the entire dictionary, or look only for information about Madison.
  • Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles (WLHBA)
    WLHBA contains more than 16,000 newspaper clippings about the history of Wisconsin. You may search the entire collection, or look only for clippings about Madison.
  • Turning Points in Wisconsin History
    Turning Points presents the history of Wisconsin through hundreds of eyewitness accounts, pictures, and museum objects. You may explore the entire collection or limit your focus to the history of Madison.
  • Library Catalog (formerly MadCat) and ArCat (archives catalog) provide listings and descriptions of the Historical Society's many books and collections documenting the history of Madison.
The third Wisconsin Capitol (the second in Madison) as it appeared shortly after the construction was completed.
WHI 3160
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