Use the smaller-sized text Use the larger-sized text Use the very large text

Americanization and the Bennett Law

In the mid-nineteenth century, reformers began to view education as a means of social change. As the number of immigrants continued to grow and diversify the population, a series of efforts were launched by policy makers to assimilate these disparate groups into mainstream American culture. Learning the English language became a central focus of many Americanization efforts.

In the 19th century, Wisconsin's first white settlers were mainly Yankees from New York and New England, but in the 1840s large numbers of European immigrants, primarily Germans and Norwegians, began settling in Wisconsin. Waves of ethnic conflict periodically swept through Wisconsin, though... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A Republican Senator defends the Bennett Law and Governor Hoard, 1890  A Republican Senator defends the Bennett Law and Governor Hoard, 1890
Link to article: Ho-Chunk women form a homemaking club, 1933  Ho-Chunk women form a homemaking club, 1933
Link to article: Milwaukee's Jewish community honors the work of Lizzie Kander in 1932  Milwaukee's Jewish community honors the work of Lizzie Kander in 1932
Link to article: An 1886 visit to the Menominee community of Keshena  An 1886 visit to the Menominee community of Keshena
Link to article: A white man praises the transformation of Indian children into "Americans,"  1894  A white man praises the transformation of Indian children into "Americans," 1894
Link to article: Wisconsin newspapers take a stand on the Bennett Law, 1889.  Wisconsin newspapers take a stand on the Bennett Law, 1889.
Link to artifacts: A miniature kit teaches mothers about safe homebirths, 1938  A miniature kit teaches mothers about safe homebirths, 1938
Link to artifacts: A hand-made prom dress  A hand-made prom dress
Link to book: Reports on the progress of reform in mission kindergartens throughout Milwaukee, 1892  Reports on the progress of reform in mission kindergartens throughout Milwaukee, 1892
Link to book: What the government thought Indian girls needed to know (1911)  What the government thought Indian girls needed to know (1911)
Link to book: An 1898 manual for running Indian schools.  An 1898 manual for running Indian schools.
Link to book: An 1892 rulebook for Indian schools  An 1892 rulebook for Indian schools
Link to book: A German American editor provides reasons to oppose the Bennett Law  A German American editor provides reasons to oppose the Bennett Law
Link to book: A group of Democrats break from party opposition to the Bennett Law  A group of Democrats break from party opposition to the Bennett Law
Link to book: Excerpts from The Settlement Cookbook  Excerpts from The Settlement Cookbook
Link to book: The "Best" Books for Children, 1890  The "Best" Books for Children, 1890
Link to book: Statistics on government schools for Indians, 1899  Statistics on government schools for Indians, 1899
Link to book: Conditions on Wisconsin Indian reservations, 1909-1910  Conditions on Wisconsin Indian reservations, 1909-1910
Link to book: Theodora Youmans emphasizes the need to educate women voters  Theodora Youmans emphasizes the need to educate women voters
Link to book: A Republican Party pamphlet in support of the Bennett Law  A Republican Party pamphlet in support of the Bennett Law
Link to images: Pictures of the Potawatomi from the 1820's to the 1920's  Pictures of the Potawatomi from the 1820's to the 1920's
Link to images: Ojibwe girls learn to use sewing machines, 1895  Ojibwe girls learn to use sewing machines, 1895
Link to images: Oneida Indians at church and school in Hobart, Wis., ca. 1910  Oneida Indians at church and school in Hobart, Wis., ca. 1910
Link to manuscript: Alfred Bridgman's English-Menominee word list from the 1870s  Alfred Bridgman's English-Menominee word list from the 1870s
Link to manuscript: Frank Bridgman's Menominee vocabulary, 1878  Frank Bridgman's Menominee vocabulary, 1878
Link to manuscript: William Dempster Hoard defends the Bennett Law  William Dempster Hoard defends the Bennett Law

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to article: The Bennett Law summarized by an outsider (1891)  The Bennett Law summarized by an outsider (1891)
Link to article: Gov. Peck explains his opposition to the Bennett Law.  Gov. Peck explains his opposition to the Bennett Law.
Link to book: Wisconsin Blue Books  Wisconsin Blue Books
Link to book: A prominent Norwegian-American remembers his life in Wisconsin (1915)  A prominent Norwegian-American remembers his life in Wisconsin (1915)
Link to book: The Meriam Report (1928) investigates failed U.S. Indian policy  The Meriam Report (1928) investigates failed U.S. Indian policy
Link to collections: Documents relating to The Settlement's children's programs  Documents relating to The Settlement's children's programs
Link to images: Images of Indian missions and schools, 1890-1933  Images of Indian missions and schools, 1890-1933

Related Links

Discover our series of booklets about ethnic groups who came to Wisconsin
Discover the standard book about Wisconsin Indians, by Patty Loew
Discover classroom resources available from our Office of School Services
A history of ethnic assimilation and the law, 1846-1920
Search our catalogs for materials on this topic that aren't yet available online.
Borrow books about this topic through our interlibrary loan service
Borrow manuscripts about this topic through our Area Research Center network.
Learn about other topics from our new book, Wisconsin History Highlights
Read more about Lizzie Kander and culinary reform in Milwaukee

  • Questions about this page? Email us
  • Email this page to a friend
select text size Use the smaller-sized textUse the larger-sized textUse the very large text