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February 2013 Odd Wisconsin

Indian Women & French Men

March is Women's History Month, so for the next few weeks Odd Wisconsin will occasionally focus on the lives of Wisconsin women. American Indian women, of course, have been making history here for thousands of years. Passing references to them occur throughout the 17th-century Jesuit Relations, but one of the earliest detailed accounts occurs in this 1702 letter by outraged...
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Posted in Curiosities on February 28, 2013

The Underground Railroad in Wisconsin

Every year for several decades, students have approached the Society's staff to learn about the Underground Railroad in Wisconsin. Slavery itself can be an awkward topic, especially for younger students. White kids often wonder how their ancestors could have owned other people as slaves and feel guilty or embarrassed, and black kids wonder how their ancestors could have put up...
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Posted in Curiosities on February 21, 2013

The Long Eventful Life of Hattie Pierce

Born into bondage in North Carolina on Jan. 1, 1829, Mrs. Hattie Pierce, of 1442 Williamson St. in Madison, personally experienced the dramatic social upheavals that most of her neighbors only learned about in schoolbooks. By the time she passed away, slavery had become just a distant memory and horse-drawn wagons had given way to jet airplanes. 'Gone with the...
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Posted in Odd Lives on February 14, 2013

Early Black History in Wisconsin

Here's a pop quiz for anyone who thinks they know Wisconsin history. The record of African-American life in our state begins in the year: a. 1967, with Milwaukee's fair housing marches; b. 1866, when Ezekiel Gillespie won the right to vote; c. 1792, when Black fur traders settled at Marinette; d. 1724, when an African-American slave was killed by the...
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Posted in Curiosities on February 1, 2013

Why We Speak English in Wisconsin

In Germany they speak German; in China, Chinese. So how come, here in the center of No. America, we speak English? When the French and Indian War (1755-1763) broke out, the French controlled the interior of North America and the English the Atlantic seaboard. Here are a French map from 1757 and an English one from 1754 showing what they...
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Posted in Curiosities on February 1, 2013

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