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The Top 10 of 2005

Image of Galylord Nelson,  William Proxmire and William Rehnquist
Senator Gaylord Nelson, William Proxmire and
Supreme Court Cheif Justice William Rehnquist
(photos courtesy of Wikipedia; Proxmire image
from WHI 34251)

In what has become a year-end tradition, members of the Wisconsin Historical Society staff take a retrospective look at history-making stories that have unfolded over the past 12 months and identify the top 10 with a Wisconsin connection. This year's stories run the gamut from political, legal and war news to history-making weather stories.

Top 10 Wisconsin History-Making News Stories

  1. Wisconsin Natives Rehnquist and Nelson Represented Best of Badger State
    Former Governor Gaylord Nelson died at 89 on July 3, 2005. Nelson served as governor from 1959 to 1963 and represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate from 1963 to 1981. Best known as the founder of Earth Day, he became a key figure in the national environmental movement. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died at 80 on September 3, 2005. Nominated to the court by Richard Nixon in 1971 and elevated to chief justice by Ronald Reagan in 1986, Rehnquist helped shift the court to the right, presided over the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, and played a key role in the election of George W. Bush as president.
  2. Fifty-One Wisconsin Soldiers Killed in Iraq War
    Andy Stevens, a 29-year-old Marine from Tomah, became the 51st member of the armed forces from Wisconsin killed in Iraq. Stevens died along with nine other Marines on December 1 when a roadside bomb exploded as the soldiers were on nighttime foot patrol near Falluja. The U.S. military reached a grim milestone in the two-and one-half year war on October 25 with 2,000 combat deaths reported in Iraq.
  3. Tornados Do $40 Million in Damage in Wisconsin, No Federal Disaster Aid
    Mother Nature was visibly angry in 2005. Natural disasters including tsunamis and hurricanes left shocking devastation worldwide. On August 18, 27 tornadoes tore through Wisconsin, killing one man and causing more than $40 million in property damage. The Federal Emergency Management Administration, under intense criticism for its inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina, denied federal aid to Wisconsin residents who suffered damage to property from the twisters.
  4. Chai Vang Murder Trial and Conviction
    Minnesotan Chai Vang was tried and convicted on six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of attempted homicide for killing six Wisconsin hunters in Sawyer County in November 2004. The case brought national attention to Wisconsin's deer hunting culture and the sensitive issue of race relations.
  5. Gas Prices Reach $3.57 in Wisconsin Following Hurricane Katrina
    After Hurricane Katrina slammed into Gulf Coast refineries and oil facilities, gas prices soared within days. By the end of August, gas prices at some Wisconsin gas stations reached $3.57 for a gallon of regular unleaded gas. As motorists cut back, gas prices began drifting down to under $2.20 by late fall.
  6. DNA Evidence Freed Steven Avery in 2003, Led to Murder Charges in 2005
    DNA evidence proved Steven Avery of Mishicot, Wisconsin, was innocent of his 1985 sexual assault conviction, for which he served 18 years in prison, and resulted in his release in 2003. In November, authorities charged Avery with murder in the death of Teresa Halbach based on DNA evidence taken from human remains found on Avery's property. Authorities believe the DNA is Halbach's.
  7. Stellar Year for Wisconsin College Sports
    The University of Wisconsin Badgers made the NCAA men's basketball Elite Eight and the UW-Milwaukee Panthers made the Sweet 16. Twenty-two players from Wisconsin — more than any other state — competed on teams in the Sweet 16. The UW won the men's team title at the 2005 NCAA Division 1 National Cross Country Championships by 37 points on November 21. UW football coach Barry Alvarez coached his final home game on November 25. After 16 years of coaching with 117 wins and three Rose Bowl victories, Alvarez became the most successful coach in UW history. Halfway through the season, the UW men's hockey team is 13-1-2 overall and the top-ranked team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
  8. University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard Produce Most CEOs;
    UW is Top Research University

    The University of Wisconsin joined Harvard in a 2005 Spencer Stuart study as the most common university attended by Standard & Poor's 500 Chief Executive Officers. Three percent of S&P 500 CEOs received their undergraduate degrees from UW, the same number as from Harvard. UW-Madison was also named the nation's top research university based on the total number of science and engineering doctorates and research expenditures in 2004. UW-Madison graduated 445 science and engineering doctorates and spent $662 million on research.
  9. Lance Armstrong Wins Seventh Tour de France on Trek Bike
    Texan Lance Armstrong achieved a previously unthinkable goal: on July 24, Armstrong won his seventh consecutive Tour de France road race. Armstrong and the Discovery Channel cycling team raced on Trek Madone SSLx road and TTX time-trial bikes designed and manufactured by Trek Bicycle Corporation of Waterloo, Wisconsin.
  10. Cultural Institutions Weather Tough Times
    Wisconsin 's cultural landscape changed dramatically this year when county-owned Milwaukee Public Museum, a venerable Wisconsin cultural institution, revealed massive debt and endowment depletion. The news resulted in the museum president's resignation, mass staff layoffs, forced emergency help from the county to keep the century-old museum afloat, and led to an investigation of museum practices. Baraboo's Circus World Museum continued belt-tightening as consequences of the demise of the Great Circus Parade in Milwaukee continued to take a toll on the museum and its staff. Staging the parade in Baraboo in 2004 and 2005 could not provide sufficient revenue, and it became evident that without an annual parade in Milwaukee, the museum must establish a new business model to ensure sustainability. The museum's president and CEO resigned, staff was laid off, plans for a 2006 Great Circus Parade were scrapped, and a new approach to the 2006 summer show has been developed.

Recommended Reads

  1. 1776 by David McCullough
  2. Mai Ya's Long Journey by Sheila Cohen Buy it at WHS
  3. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  4. New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in 18th-Century Manhattan by Jill Lepore
  5. Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of Segregation in America By James Loewen
  6. 1491 by Charles C. Mann
  7. Women's Wisconsin: From Native Matriarchies to the New Millennium, edited by Genevieve G. McBride Buy it at WHS
  8. Henry Adams and the Making of America by Garry Wills
  9. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz
  10. A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester

Websites Worth Clicking

  1. Center for History and New Media
    A portal of history projects and a listing of the resources it takes to put significant projects together.
  2. Papers of George Washington
    A collection of primary sources like letters, diaries and documents Washington wrote himself as well wide swaths of material written about America's first president, from his ear for music to his wooden teeth and infertility.
  3. Historical Census Browser
    1790-1960 Census data you can query in a million different ways. Not easy, but a treasure trove of primary source goodness.
  4. Common-Place
    A place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. Easier to read than a journal, but with historical gravitas, nonetheless.
  5. Jim Crow Museum
    Objects of racial segregation and civil rights like caricatures and cartoons that made Jim Crow seem so normal at the time.
  6. Feeding America
    Cookbooks from the 18th century and beyond. From The Cook Not Mad (a scientific/rational cookbook ... a 19th-century Alton Brown) to The Ideal Bartender fron 1917.
  7. Dead or Alive?
    Is Abe Vigoda dead or alive? What about Michael Debakey? Or Aaron Copeland? Find out here!
  8. DoHistory
    How to peice together the past from the fragments left behind.
  9. Popular Songs in American History
    While you probably won't hear The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington sung on American Idol, you will find drinking songs, ballads, tales of murder and songs of love. Complete with lyrics to read as your hear the songs played for you.
  10. Early Wisconsin Artists from the West Bend Art Museum
    An encyclopedia of early Wisconsin artists from Alexander Marquis (1829-1884) to Susan Frackelton (1851-1932).
Other Great Online History Resources:

Top 10 Objects Acquired for the State History Collection

image of Favre jersey
  1. Shirt Given to 7-Year-Old Orphan Frank Drewezicki at St. Joseph Orphanage, Milwaukee, 1920
    (Museum object #2005.82.1)
    Donated by David H.B. Drake
    More information
  2. Green Bay Packers Football Jersey Worn by Brett Favre During a Game Against the Chicago Bears on January 2, 2005
    (Museum object #2005.83.1)
    Donated by the Green Bay Packers
    More information
  3. Kehl School of Dancing’s "Midget Wedding" Costume, 1940
    (Museum object #2005.108.1A-C)
    Donated by Jo Jean Kehl Janus
    More information
  4. Baseball Bat Issued to Milwaukee Braves Second Baseman Red Schoendienst for the 1957 World Series
    (Museum object #2005.128.1)
    More information
  5. Frank Lloyd Wright House Model Featured in Life Magazine, 1938
    (Museum object #2005.133.1)
    Acquired through the generosity of Jerome and Gail Fox in memory of Bernard and Fern Schwartz
    More information
  6. Bonded Carbon/Aluminum Racing Bicycle, Made by Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo, Wisconsin, 1988
    (Museum object # 2005.135.1)
    More information
  7. Racing Skin Worn by Speedskater Casey FitzRandolph, 2003
    (Museum object #2005.146.1)
    Donated by Casey FitzRandolph
    FitzRandolph wore this skin at the 2003 World Cup championships, where he placed sixth overall and first among the Americans in the 500 meters. He also won a gold medal in the same race at the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. Casey was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and grew up in nearby Verona.
    More information
  8. Deer Hide Jacket of Ruel Garnich Baldwin, c. 1915
    (Museum object #2005.147.1)
    Donated by Margaret Pieplow
    More information
  9. Winning Entry for the First Alice in Dairyland Dress Design, 1948
    (Museum object #2005.157.1)
    Donated by Celia Demo
    More information
  10. Evergleam Christmas Tree, Made by Aluminum Specialty Company, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, c. 1964
    (Museum object #2005.174.1)
    More information


Top 10 Library-Archives Acquisitions

The library and archives acquire recorded information, in many formats, that document the history of Wisconsin, the United States, and Canada. This is done with both published and unpublished papers, books, newspapers and periodicals from private sources as well as state and national governments. Over the past 12 months, the library and archives acquired more than 6,500 new books, more than 5,000 nonprint items such as video and microfiche, and more than 5,500 Wisconsin state, U.S. federal, and Canadian government publications. During the same time, the library and archives accepted more than 350 collections of private records as well as Wisconsin state and local government records.

Information about all of our books and collections is available online through either the library catalog or the archives catalog. Additionally, some of our holdings are also digitally accessible by patrons from their own desktops. The following list, compiled by library and archives staff, reflects some of the highlights of the past year's work in our various acquisitions areas.

Images of Taliesin

Archival Manuscript and Photograph Collections

  1. Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Album
    This bound album, dating from 1911-1912, contains early and rare photographs of the buildings at architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, his Spring Green home and studio. The album includes photographs of the landscape around Taliesin; the exterior of the building including construction photographs and the courtyard; interior views of the living room, dining room, workroom and a dormitory space; and a group of men, possibly workmen, in front of a fireplace. All the images from the Taliesin album can be viewed on Wisconsin Historical Images.
  2. Philleo Nash Papers
    The papers of this Wisconsin Rapids native detail his life and career as lieutenant governor of Wisconsin in the 1950s and his service in important federal positions from the 1940s to the 1960s. His career included work during World War II analyzing racial unrest for the Office of War Information. Working as a special assistantfor President Truman, Nash was instrumental in creating the policy to desegrate the Armed Forces. Under President Kennedy he served as commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. During the 1950s Nash fought off Senator Joseph McCarthy's accusations of supposed Communist leanings, and he was instrumental in reviving and revitalizing the Wisconsin Democratic Party organization.
  3. James Potter Photograph Collection
    James A. Potter, an architect and native Madisonian, combined his architectural background and his skills as a photographer into a photo feature for the Wisconsin State Journal titled "Have you seen this Madison?" This popular feature ran from 1969 to 1977. The photographs captured the unusual and the ordinary, concentrating on architectural details, often unnoticed by the casual observer. The archives accepted the collection, and work is underway to scan and catalog more than 200 views. Many of them are already online at Wisconsin Historical Images.

Wisconsin State and Local Government Records

  1. Department of Justice. Lac Courte Oreilles Treaty Rights Case Records.
    These records created by the Wisconsin Department of Justice begin with various hunting violation cases of the late 1970s and span the many phases of the treaty rights trial held before the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, which resulted in the 1991 final agreement. The records consist of correspondence, legal briefs, witness testimony transcripts, and historical research created and used by offices of the various assistant attorneys general assigned to the case. The final agreement settled questions regarding the rights of tribes to use natural resources including deer, fish and timber.
  2. Bayfield County Court. Probate Case Files, 1874-1924.
    This collection includes documents filed in Bayfield County Court concerning the settlement of deceased individuals' estates and the filing of wills. Included are petitions, orders, letters of administration, wills, inventories of estates, and additional legal documents. This series consists of probate or estate case files from approximately the time when the present boundaries of Bayfield were set through 1924. Research uses of probate records are varied and include the study of demographics, social and economic research topics, and family history. Case files contain detailed information about the family of the deceased and can provide an intimate glimpse into the lifestyles of an ancestor.

Library Acquisitions
(books, newspapers, periodicals, microfilm, and digital materials)

  1. Die Grundung und Entwicklung der Kolonie Neu Glarus (The Founding and Development of the Colony of New Glarus).
    This German language pamphlet was published in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1894. Written by a teacher named D. Durst, it is an early history of the town of New Glarus and its founding by Swiss immigrants in the 1840s. Included with the pamphlet are plat maps and a rare bird's-eye view of the town.
  2. Digital Back Files of the Chicago Tribune, 1849-1985.
    This digital resource was acquired in cooperation with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library System. As an electronic access tool, it offers full-text searching and retrieval for every single issue of the Chicago Tribune from 1849 to 1985. It is available to all patrons from any computer located in the Society's library or anywhere else on the UW-Madison campus.
  3. Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Annual Narrative and Statistical Reports from State Offices and County Agents, 1913-1944.
    This acquisition, from the holdings of the National Archives, consists of 49 microfilm reels documenting the work of county agricultural agents in Wisconsin during the first half of the 20th century. These documents allow users to read and understand many of the changes in agricultural practices that occurred throughout the state as reported annually to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wisconsin State Government and U.S. Federal Government Publications

  1. Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations.
    The History of the Wisconsin Civil Service, 1905-2005
    This history of the Wisconsin state civil service system provides an overview of the changes that have taken place in state government employment since Governor Robert M. La Follette signed one of the nation's first civil service bills into law in 1905. In addition to chapters tracing the evolution of the civil service system in Wisconsin, there are also sections on Wisconsin state employee labor history and affirmative action.
  2. President's Council on Bioethics, Washington, D.C.
    Taking Care: Ethical Caregiving in our Aging Society
    Taking Care is a 2005 report to the president by the Council on Bioethics. It addresses the challenges of care giving in our rapidly aging society, with an emphasis on the problems associated with dementia. It provides guidance to caregivers, families, and professionals, and encourages policymakers to take up these complicated issues.

Places Worth Preserving


Greendale City Hall
  1. Adelman, Albert and Edith, House, Fox Point, Milwaukee
    Noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed this home for the Adelman family in 1948. More Information
  2. Appomattox Shipwreck, Shorewood, Milwaukee County
    This highly intact shipwreck was the largest wooden steam bulk freighter ever to ply the Great Lakes. More Information
  3. Big Sand Lake Club, Town of Phelps, Vilas County
    Built as a Northwoods escape for wealthy Chicago businessmen, the club was known in the 1920s as one of the finest resort retreats in the Midwest. More Information
  4. Copper Falls State Park, Town of Morse, Ashland County
    The state of Wisconsin purchased the initial acreage for this state park in 1929. Between 1935 and 1941, through the federal CCC and WPA programs, the park was improved with buildings, bridges, scenic trails, and reforestation.
  5. Freitag Homestead, Town of Washington, Green County
    This property has been the home of the Freitag family and their descendants since 1869. That same year, Nikolaus Gerber started the first Swiss cheese factory in Wisconsin at the Freitag farm. More Information
  6. Greendale Historic District, Greendale, Milwaukee County
    Greendale is one of three "greenbelt towns" built by the federal government during the Great Depression. This planned community reflects the influence of the English Garden City model on American town planning. More Information
  7. Nohl, Mary, Art Environment, Fox Point, Milwaukee County
    Artist Mary Nohl transformed her family home into a unique art environment using concrete, stone, wood, and found and used objects. More Information
  8. Northwestern Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers Historic District, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County
    Designated in 1866 as one of three branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the Northwestern Branch in Milwaukee has served the needs of veterans since 1867. More Information
  9. White Potato Lake Garden Beds Site
    These intact garden beds tell the story of pre-contact agricultural practices and may yield scientific data on early plant species. More Information
  10. Wisconsin Concrete Park
    Between 1948 and 1964, retired lumberjack Fred Smith transformed his home and adjacent tavern property with sculptural groupings depicting people, animals and events from local, regional and national history. More Information
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