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Revolutionary War and the War of 1812

What We Own

At the time of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, Wisconsin was involved in a series of frontier skirmishes and fairly isolated from the campaigns of the eastern states. 

The Wisconsin Historical Society has a large collection of materials related to the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 extending beyond the actions that took place in what is now Wisconsin. The Society Library and Archives maintain general histories, regimental histories, personal narratives, diaries, music, journal articles, newspaper accounts, government documents, photographs, and personal records, including genealogical research resources.

In the Archives

The Draper Manuscripts
In the Archives most early military information is in a collection called the Draper Manuscripts. Named for the first Wisconsin Historical Society Director, Lyman Copeland Draper, the collections contains important information not only on the American Revolution, but also on the French and Indian War of the 1750s, the War of 1812, and Indian/settler conflicts associated with the westward movement, 1750-1820. Visit The Draper Manuscripts for a complete description of this valuable resource.

Other early military resource in the Archives consist mainly of collections which are small in quantity and scattered in subject matter, thus difficult to summarize. Examples range from the papers of Elias Boudinot, Commissary General of Prisoners during the Revolutionary War; to accounts of maritime conflicts with the Barbary pirates in the Gibbs Family Papers; to information on the War of 1812 in the area that is now Wisconsin in the papers of George Boyd and John Lawe.

In the Library

Most research on the American Revolution and the War of 1812 will be done in published resources in the Library. Included are general histories on each war, military unit histories, lists of soldiers, pension indexes and rolls of honor. Many veterans of these two wars migrated west, with the benefit of bounty land warrants. The Society maintains many resources for locating land transactions and migratory patterns.

For a general list of resources, use The War of the American Revolution : a Selected Annotated Bibliography of Published Sources (New York : Garland Pub., 1984) written by Richard L. Blanco. Visit Related Resources for more information.


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