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View Our Gallery Archive

Each of our galleries focuses on a compelling set of images drawn from our online image database. They provide an introduction to image research topics you will find in the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Featured Gallery
Bees and Beekeepers Since 1872
More than 200 images in this gallery show the rich history of beekeeping in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states, including developments in beehives, equipment, techniques and advertising.
A Century of Aviation
Eight galleries document the Wright Flyers in Wisconsin, John G. Kaminski, military aviation, innovative speed and distance aviation, airplanes and airlines, airports, aerial enthusiasts, and the great space race.
A Pictorial History of Victorian Wisconsin
The Annie Schildhauer collection provides an intimate look at family, architecture, interiors and fashion in Victorian Wisconsin, a time when many individuals, both men and women, began to dabble in the new art of photography.
A Visual Tour of Wisconsin's Fine Opera Houses
In the decades following the Civil War, most Wisconsin cities and towns had their own opera house. A new book from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press documents the renaissance of many of these elegant structures.
Adolf Hoeffler's Pencil Sketches of 1852 Wisconsin
This compelling collection of 16 pencil sketches depicts the early settlement landscape of southern Wisconsin and is the work of German-born artist Adolf Hoeffler. He made these detailed and lovely sketches in 1852.
Afloat on the Ohio: Reuben Gold Thwaites Photographs
In the summer of 1894, Society Director Reuben Gold Thwaites and his family traveled the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. His photos offer a glimpse of the nation's interior.
Alfred Bish: Life and Lumbering in Chippewa Falls
A remarkable collection of historical photographs by Alfred A. Bish documents life in turn-of-the-20th-century Chippewa Falls, with particular attention to the area's lumbering industry and the landscape of the region.
Allied Intervention in Northern Russia, 1918-1920
Robert Colton Johnson's rare collection of photographs documents the U.S. intervention in Russia in 1918-1919 following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Most of the images in this collection have never been published before.
American History Through Christmas Cards
Americans have been exchanging holiday cards for more than 150 years, and thousands of them have made their way into the Society's collections as correspondence. View this gallery of more than 200 historic Christmas cards.
An Artist on the Overland Trail
Created by artist James F. Wilkins on his 151-day journey to the California gold fields in 1849, these sketches became the foundation for an enormous panorama of the route known as "The Moving Mirror of the Overland Trail."
An Earth Day Gallery in Gaylord Nelson's Honor
The Society is proud to announce the completion of the first phase of the Gaylord Nelson Papers processing project. On the occasion of the 38th anniversary of Earth Day, we feature a selection of images from his career.
Angora: Rabbit Raising in Nazi Concentration Camps
The Angora project was an SS-administered program to breed rabbits for their soft fur. Discovered by journalist Sigrid Schultz, the album serves as a stark reminder of a brutal regime that treated animals better than its prisoners.
A Summer Place: Images of the Apostle Islands
Light houses, fishing boats, ferries, windsleds, picnics, celebrations and of course the people at the heart of it all, are chronicled in this gallery of images documenting life on and around the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior.
Brandel and Jones Family Gallery
This collection of informal, spontaneous family photographs from the 1920s and 30s capture not only the Brandel-Hopkins family history, but also Wisconsin's history, artistic beauty and often a strange and beguiling charm.
Breweries, Beer and Bars in Wisconsin History
Early on in its history, Wisconsin became known for its beer breweries and taverns. This gallery of more than 400 images documents the role that beer, brewing and bars have played in the state's development.
Caroline Webb Papers
The photographs in the Caroline Webb Papers document three generations of an African-American family, descended from slaves, living in the Midwest from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.
Cigarette Trade Cards
A variety of 27 colorful cigarette cards from the late 1800s in our collections, depicting people, sports, and birds.
Commemorating 50 Years of Integration
September 25, 2007, marked the 50th anniversary of a pivotal event in the history of civil rights in America, the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
Cranberry Farming in Wisconsin
Browse a gallery of historic images from the Society's visual archives that presents more than 130 pictures of cranberry growing, harvesting and advertising through the decades.
David Marcou: "Found Life"
David Marcou's photographs are mainly "lens-gathered from found life," a philosophy he's had for more than 30 years. He does not generally invent or overly direct his subjects or insert his personality into his photographs.
Dickey Chapelle, Photojournalist
Dickey was an adventurous woman who reported from the front lines of military actions worldwide, from WW II through Vietnam, where she was the first female journalist to die in action.
Documenting a Struggle for Farmworker Justice
Photojournalist David Giffey documented migrant farmworkers' struggles for better working and living conditions from 1966 to 1971, amassing this gallery of revealing photographs from that turbulent era.
Documenting the Segregated South
This gallery of 46 stunning photographs taken in the mid-1960s to accompany a report on living conditions in the African-American neighborhoods of Natchez, Mississippi, documents life in the segregated South.
Early 20th-Century Education: Grant County
The Grant County Rural School Records image gallery represents both the day-to-day lives of southwestern Wisconsin schoolchildren and the annual fairs and contests in which they participated during the early 20th century.
Edward A. Bass: Doctor and Amateur Photographer
Dr. Edward Bass was a practicing physician in Montello when he purchased a Velox camera from the local newspaper office in 1892. More than 130 of his "most perfect pictures" are the subject of this gallery.
Ephraim Burt Trimpey, 'Photo Artist' from Baraboo
The images created by Baraboo photographer Ephraim Trimpey cover a broad spectrum of photographic styles and subjects ranging from portraits and documentary photos to city scenes and landscapes.
Exploring the Eclectic Harold Gauer Collection
A wildly eclectic collection of more than 220 photographs documenting the life and times of Milwaukee political campaign operative and promoter Harold Gauer provides the fodder for this gallery of surprising images.
Falk Corporation: Milwaukee Manufacturing Giant
Once known almost exclusively as a brewing powerhouse, Milwaukee owes part of its reputation to the Falk Corporation, an innovative leader in the manufacture of gears and gear trains for a variety of industry worldwide.
Fill 'er Up: A Historical Look at Service Stations
Since their unremarkable beginnings as cheap shacks and curbside pumps at the dawn of the automobile age, gas stations have taken many forms and worn many guises. See how gas stations became icons of modern car culture!
From Water to Power: the Prairie du Sac Dam
The Prairie du Sac Dam on the Wisconsin River has been powering communities in the area since 1914. The dam and power plant's construction was documented by local photographer Frank S. Eberhart.
Gerhard Gesell's Alma: Mississippi River Town
During Gerhard Gesell's prolific career as a photographer, he carefully documented the town, people and culture of Alma, Wisconsin. He skillfully captured the integral role the Mississippi River played for this river town and its citizens.
Gugler Lithographic World War II Mobilization Posters
During World War II Milwaukee's Gugler Lithographic was among the most prolific printers of U.S. government-organized war mobilization posters.
H.H. Bennett — Photographer
Between 1865 and 1908, H.H. Bennett captured the rugged landscape of the Wisconsin Dells. Bennett also created stunning images of Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago.
H.H. Bennett and Civil War Cycloramas
Before motion pictures, cycloramas entertained audiences by depicting panoramic views of historic events. H.H. Bennett documented two Civil War cycloramas: the Battle of Gettysburg and the Battle of Missionary Ridge.
Harry Dankoler: Avid Amateur Photographer
A diverse but rich collection of amateur photographs by Harry Dankoler lovingly documents the tragically short life of his only son, gold prospecting in Wyoming, even early experiments in photo manipulation.
Harry Ellsworth Cole
The Harry Ellsworth Cole collection reflects his lifelong love of nature and history through more than 200 photographs that document and preserve Sauk County's and Wisconsin's natural beauty and history.
Have You Seen This Madison?
James T. Potter combined his architectural background and photographer's skills to create this photo feature for the Wisconsin State Journal. His popular column ran in the Sunday paper from 1969 to 1977.
Highlander Folk School
The Highlander Folk School began in the 1930s as a social leadership center focused on labor organization and civil rights, reflecting an underlying belief that progressive advances depended greatly on defeating segregation.
Hölzlhuber Watercolors
Austrian Franz Hölzlhuber visited the U.S. from 1856 to 1860. As he traveled, he sketched his observations and then enhanced them with watercolors.
Horses to Horsepower — Cars in Wisconsin History
Take a drive through history and witness Wisconsin's dramatic transformation from a horse-dependent society during the 19th century to the automobile-based culture of the present.
Howard Hughes
A collection of stills from "Hell's Angels" and "Sky Devils," movies made by Howard Hughes in the 1930s. Included are behind-the-scenes images of Hughes, Jean Harlow, and Wisconsin-born Spencer Tracey.
Images of Wisconsin's Holocaust Survivors
More than 140,000 Holocaust survivors came to the United States after World War II. Two dozen of those who settled in Wisconsin are documented in images from pre- and post-war Europe and their early years in the state.
Images of the Underground
Underground presses are most commonly associated with the countercultural movements of the 1960s. The WHS has one of the largest collection of underground newspapers in the nation, a selection of which are featured in this gallery.
Portrait of Candi Tanka. Image ID 28013.
Indian Portraits — Bureau of Ethnology
De Lancey W. Gill was one of the photographers who took studio portraits of tribal leaders in Washington DC between the 1890s and 1930s.
Industrial Milwaukee: Images of P&H Electric Cranes
Alonzo Pawling and Henry Harnischfeger revolutionized the machinery industry with the invention of the electric crane, depicted in photos from the early 20th century.
International Harvester Glass Negative Series
This gallery of more than 500 photographs is a treasure trove of imagery for anyone interested in farmers, farm animals, factory workers, tractors, advertising, small-town life and dozens of other topics.
J. Robert Taylor: Milwaukee's First Photojournalist
Although he had no formal training in newspaper photography, J. Robert Taylor's one-man photo department helped to shape modern photojournalism by documenting city life along the Milwaukee shores of Lake Michigan.
Jim Widmer's 'Spirit of Rural Wisconsin: Part I'
This is the first in a three-part series featuring the images of Jim Widmer of the tiny Dodge County town of Theresa. In the mid-20th century he deliberately set out to capture the spirit of rural Wisconsin.
Jim Widmer's 'Spirit of Rural Wisconsin: Part II'
This is the second in a three-part series featuring the images of Jim Widmer of the tiny Dodge County town of Theresa. In the mid-20th century he deliberately set out to capture the spirit of rural Wisconsin.
Jim Widmer's 'Spirit of Rural Wisconsin: Part III'
This is the third in a three-part series featuring the images of Jim Widmer of the tiny Dodge County town of Theresa. In the mid-20th century he deliberately set out to capture the spirit of rural Wisconsin.
Kehl School of Dance — Madison
Photos of the school include students in costume, the inside and outside of the studio, and marquees advertising performances.
Larger Than Life: Tall-Tale Postcards
Tall-Tale postcards emerged in the early 20th century, functioning as surrogates for travel that extolled Wisconsin's agricultural abundance through images of mythic harvests and gargantuan animals.
Let's Go to the Circus!
See what the circus looked like years ago in our selection of about 100 photographs spanning almost 100 years.
Letterheads: Promotions on Paper, 1850s-1975
Before email and texting, custom-designed letterheads were a universal way of proclaiming who you were. This gallery of more than 300 images documents how historical letterheads served as prime examples of early branding.
Madison People's Poster and Propaganda Collection
From the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, Madison was a hub of social, political and cultural change. The onset of countercultural ideologies permeated the city's social landscape as groups formed and distributed propaganda.
Madison Sesquicentennial
Created to honor the 150th Anniversary of the granting of Madison's city charter on March 4, 1856, this gallery groups hundreds of photographs, maps, drawings and paintings of Madison by subject.
Manitowoc-Two Rivers History Showcased
The Manitowoc and Two Rivers gallery of images captures more than 150 years of life in these two cities. The images depict life on the lakeshore where various cultures merged to create two unique communities proud of their heritage.
McCormick-International Harvester
The largest and most influential farm equipment manufacturer of the twentieth century, we feature 3,000 images from 1840s to the 1980s, organized by subject.
Neighborhood House: Madison's Settlement House
This gallery features 133 images from Madison's Neighborhood House, a settlement house that served an ethnically diverse population. It helped residents assimilate into a cohesive community from 1916 to the 1960s.
Northwoods Photographer Allan Born
Amateur photographer Allan Born took photographs around northern Wisconsin for nearly half a century, specializing in small-town life and tourism. He also captured the scenic beauty of Northwoods lakes, streams, forests and wildlife.
Old Abe, Wisconsin's Civil War Eagle
This collection of 75 photos helps tell the story of Old Abe, a tame bald eagle who was the mascot of the 8th Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War and became a living symbol of the Union at war.
One Family's Love Affair with Photography
One family's photograph collection documents life in Madison, Wisconsin, from the late 19th to the early 20th century. Browse this gallery of nearly 200 photographs taken by William and Clara Middleton and their son Forest.
Passenger Pigeons: The Extinction of a Species
A collection of 24 photographs of captive passenger pigeons from the late 19th century documents some of the last living specimens of the now-extinct bird and provides the substance for this photo gallery.
Patriotism Through the Mail: Civil War Envelopes
This collection of Civil War-illustrated envelopes provides a window into the politics and culture of a society at war, most of them reflecting the attitudes of the Union.
Paul Vanderbilt's Landscapes
Paul Vanderbilt, one of the premier landscape photographers of the 20th century, portrayed the essence of the rural Wisconsin landscape in his images of small towns, farmlands, and shorelines across Wisconsin.
Photo Copy Service — Madison
Angus McVicar and other Photo Copy Service photographers captured the soul of Madison from the 1920s through the 1960s. Images include businesses, social groups and people engaged in daily work.
Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign
This collection comprises 61 photographs taken by Civil War-era photographer George N. Barnard. The photos document Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and his March to the Sea in 1864.
Picturing Madison: Winifred Ford's Watercolors
In 1938-39, Winifred Ford created over 40 stunning watercolors of historic Madison buildings, many of which no longer exist.
Planned Community of Greendale, Wisconsin
Built as part of a New Deal construction project, "Greenbelt Towns" like Greendale had housing only steps away from parks, employment, and the town center. View 200 images of the village from the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Political Campaigns of the Past: 1850-2009
The way politicians campaign has changed a lot over the years. This gallery of more than 450 posters, photographs, broadsides and other materials traces the evolution of political campaigning from 1850 to 2009.
Political Maverick William Proxmire
From 1957 to 1988, Democratic Senator William Proxmire represented the state of Wisconsin in Congress. Proxmire's 32-year career is the subject of this featured gallery.
Politics and Elections: Documents and Pictures
This gallery documents notable moments in Wisconsin’s political history and the history of political parties and ideological movements.
Portraits of Scientists
Collected by pioneering Wisconsin antiquarian Increase Allen Lapham between 1862-75, this album of carte-de-visite photographic portraits depicts many notable 19th-century scientists from America and Europe.
Prophetic Pictures from Menomonie, Wisconsin
A most unusual high school album takes one back to an imaginary future in 1905. Photographer Albert Hansen and "prophet" Sarah Ana Heller portrayed imaginary futures for themselves and their classmates in words and pictures.
Rare Taliesin Photographic Proofs Acquired
An exceptional collection of early photographic proofs of Taliesin, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin home and studio outside of Spring Green, provides a rare glimpse of the structure in its earliest incarnations.
Remembering Madison: the Lloyd Jones Album
The Richard and Georgia Lloyd Jones family photo album captured life in Madison from 1911 to 1919 and documents the city's rail lines and stations, homes, buildings and street scenes, as well as neighbors and relatives.
Remembering McCarthy: A Visual Biography
May marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who for four years in the early 1950s, held the nation in his grasp with his anti-Communist rhetoric. This gallery documents his career in images.
Settling Northern Wisconsin in 1895
In the late 19th century, farming was replacing logging in the cut-over regions of northern Wisconsin. View a gallery of photographs intended to lure farmers to the region with images of bountiful harvests and prosperous farm families.
Simon L. Stein's Portraits of Leading Citizens
In 1913 prolific Milwaukee portrait photographer Simon L. Stein proposed providing portraits of leading Wisconsin citizens to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Stein and his son would donate a photo collection of 429 portraits.
Singer Advertising Card Collection
This collection depicts people from around the world, dressed in traditional clothing and posing with Singer sewing machines. The cards offer perspective on popular depictions of race and ethnicity in the late 19th century.
Sound Storm: Wisconsin's First Outdoor Rock Festival
Mindful that the event, held in April 1970 on a farm near Poynette, would make Wisconsin musical history, Bob Pulling documented it photographically from start to finish.
The 1913 Teasdale Vice Committee Investigation
In a Progressive-era crusade against "social evil," Senator Howard Teasdale documented debauchery and sin in the dance halls, saloons and wine bars of 35 Wisconsin towns. Images also include undesirable conditions for children.
The Cassville Photographs of Frank W. Feiker
Around 1905 photographer Frank W. Feiker moved to Cassville, Wisconsin, and for the next half-century he documented the daily life of that typical Mississippi River town. This gallery includes 147 of his best photographs.
The Civil War Sketches of Alexander Simplot
This gallery of 72 images by Civil War-era sketch artist Alexander Simplot captures eyewitness views of battle scenes, forts, riverboats, portraiture and other scenes from Simplot's travels with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
The Door County Photographs of Ferdinand Hotz
The Ferdinand Hotz collection includes more than 350 photographs of Door County farms, landscapes and shorelines, taken in the first half of the 20th century as it evolved from farmland into a tourist destination.
The Edmund Eisenscher Collection
This gallery showcases 133 photos taken by Edmund Eisenscher, photographer for the "Wisconsin CIO News" from 1946-1948. The photos document union life in Milwaukee during this tumultuous time.
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
This gallery of 79 images documents the activities of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to organize African-American voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer, 1964, providing a moving record of that turbulent time.
The Lewis R. Arms Photograph Collection
Amateur photographer Lewis Arms' photographs provide glimpses into a multiracial extended family in Wisconsin during the mid-20th century, Arms' military career, his leisure pursuits, and his love of cars and motorcycles.
The Thrill of the Hill: Madison's Soap Box Derby
From 1935 through 1957 boys from the Madison, Wisconsin, area participated in the golden age the soap box derby. See our gallery featuring more than 100 images documenting Madison's soap box derby history.
The Wisconsin Free Library Commission
With a mission to improve library practices, services and standards, the Wisconsin Free Library Commission helped expand the state's library system. Images include interiors and exteriors of library buildings and traveling libraries.
Things Once Seen: Richard Quinney Photographs
Richard Quinney has spent more than 40 years documenting his life, time and community through photography. Intimately tied to and intrigued by place, this gallery features images from his newest book.
Up in Smoke: The Story of the Capitol Fire of 1904
On February 26-27, 1904, fire destroyed the third Wisconsin State Capitol; images of the capitol fire and Wisconsin's Capitols.
Valentine's Day Greeting Cards
This collection of 99 Valentine's Day greeting cards provides a glimpse into the way Americans have shared their feelings of love and affection every February 14th from 1840 through 1980.
An Osage woman sits with three children. Image ID: 30766.
William A. Jones — Native American Photographs
A resident of Wisconsin most of his life, William A. Jones served as U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1897 to 1905, when he acquired almost 400 photographs documenting Native Americans and their lives.
William Donahey's Teenie Weenies
Created by William Donahey, the diminutive Teenie Weenies, a self-sufficient group of hardworking and courteous two-inch tall people, appeared in newspapers, books, and household merchandise from 1914 to 1970.
Winther Motor Company, Kenosha
These 1921 photographs of the Winther Motor Company's truck and automobile plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, give unusual insight into manufacturing at the time.
Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State
View a gallery of images taken for the Federal Writers' Project book, "Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State," produced during the Depression by the Works Progress Administration to put people back to work.
Wisconsin at Play
Wisconsin offers endless opportunities for recreation. See hundreds of images showing how and where people have enjoyed themselves in the Badger State through the years.
Wisconsin Bird's-Eye Maps
Everyone loves these appealing artistic renderings that were created from a bird's eye viewpoint.
Wisconsin Centennial Stamp Contest
A selection of stamps entered in a contest to design a commemorative stamp heralding the Wisconsin centennial.
Wisconsin Folk Music Project
Over thirty ethnic and regional performers were captured in photos and on audiotape in the early 1940s by Helene Stratman-Thomas, from Ho-Chunk drummers to a one-man band to Swiss bell ringers.
Wisconsin Place File: Documenting a Sense of Place
The Wisconsin Historical Society has mounted more than 8,000 images of local communities, the first time the Wisconsin Place File has been available online. Explore this gallery of historical photos of Wisconsin communities.
Wisconsin Silent Movie Moguls
The Harry and Roy Aitken gallery showcases photographic stills from silent films produced by the Aitken brothers between 1913 and the early 1920s. The Wisconsin-born brothers were pioneers of the American movie industry.
Wisconsin State Fair
Not just tractors, cows and pigs, but everything from brass bands and locomotive demolitions to auto daredevils and Alice in Dairyland.
Wisconsin Women
Selected images of exceptional women, as well as those who are often unheralded as they go about the tasks of daily life.
World Trade Center Construction
Native Wisconsinite Richard Quinney took these color slides of the World Trade Center construction in 1969.
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