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Progressivism and the Wisconsin Idea

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, Wisconsin leaders began to seek new answers to problems caused by an increasingly industrial and technological society. To a people born and raised mostly on farms, the explosive growth of cities, rising importance of large-scale industry, transformation of the workforce by new immigrants and rigid class stratification, and the overall speed of daily life brought uncertainty and confusion. In other states social movements such as the Greenback Party and Populist Party tried to address these changes, but little was accomplished in Wisconsin until after the year 1900 when "Progressives" gained control of... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A survey of progressive politics in Wisconsin, 1934  A survey of progressive politics in Wisconsin, 1934
Link to article: A journalist reviews Progressive achievements, 1900-1930.  A journalist reviews Progressive achievements, 1900-1930.
Link to article: Wisconsin passes worker's compensation law, 1911.  Wisconsin passes worker's compensation law, 1911.
Link to article: Charles McCarthy, architect of progressive reforms, is recalled.  Charles McCarthy, architect of progressive reforms, is recalled.
Link to article: A survey of socialist viewpoints, 1918  A survey of socialist viewpoints, 1918
Link to article: Wisconsin voting and civil rights legislation, 1846-1929.  Wisconsin voting and civil rights legislation, 1846-1929.
Link to article: Campaign literature from Robert La Follette  Campaign literature from Robert La Follette
Link to artifacts: A water glass used by Teddy Roosevelt after being shot, 1912  A water glass used by Teddy Roosevelt after being shot, 1912
Link to artifacts: A miniature kit teaches mothers about safe homebirths, 1938  A miniature kit teaches mothers about safe homebirths, 1938
Link to book: A short history of prison industries, 1852-2002  A short history of prison industries, 1852-2002
Link to book: A brief summary of women's suffrage legislation in the U.S. and abroad, 1907  A brief summary of women's suffrage legislation in the U.S. and abroad, 1907
Link to book: A Milwaukee woman urges woman and child labor reform, 1899.  A Milwaukee woman urges woman and child labor reform, 1899.
Link to book: Progressive Era educators design the ideal school, 1907  Progressive Era educators design the ideal school, 1907
Link to book: The "Traveling Libraries" program in Wisconsin, 1897  The "Traveling Libraries" program in Wisconsin, 1897
Link to book: Conditions in state prisons, schools, and hospitals, 1955  Conditions in state prisons, schools, and hospitals, 1955
Link to book: A guide to Progressivism for women voters, 1922  A guide to Progressivism for women voters, 1922
Link to book: Madison women produce a cookbook to help poor children, 1894  Madison women produce a cookbook to help poor children, 1894
Link to book: Lawmakers try to end prostitution in 1914  Lawmakers try to end prostitution in 1914
Link to images: Francis E. McGovern, Progressive Era governor.  Francis E. McGovern, Progressive Era governor.
Link to manuscript: The lumber company makes its case against Deitz, 1906  The lumber company makes its case against Deitz, 1906
Link to manuscript: "Aunt Nellie" offers advice to farm women, 1912-1918  "Aunt Nellie" offers advice to farm women, 1912-1918
Link to manuscript: John Deitz makes his case, 1906  John Deitz makes his case, 1906
Link to places: A co-operative creamery spurs the growth of dairying in Prentice  A co-operative creamery spurs the growth of dairying in Prentice
Link to places: Wisconsin State Capitol  Wisconsin State Capitol
Link to places: Home of John R. Commons  Home of John R. Commons

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to book: "The Wisconsin Idea" (1912)  "The Wisconsin Idea" (1912)
Link to book: A Republican politician describes changes in government regulating powers  A Republican politician describes changes in government regulating powers
Link to book: The autobiography of John R. Commons (1934)  The autobiography of John R. Commons (1934)
Link to book: State regulations for women workers, 1920  State regulations for women workers, 1920
Link to book: Wisconsin Blue Books  Wisconsin Blue Books
Link to book: Labor and truancy laws for women and children, 1912  Labor and truancy laws for women and children, 1912
Link to book: A history of women's education at the University of Wisconsin  A history of women's education at the University of Wisconsin
Link to book: What girls need to know to contribute to society in 1913  What girls need to know to contribute to society in 1913
Link to collections: Documents relating to child welfare organizations  Documents relating to child welfare organizations

Related Links

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Read more about Wisconsin's role in the Progressive Movement
A timeline of Wisconsin labor, 1883 to the present

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