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Wisconsin Magazine Of History Archives

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The Wisconsin Magazine of History is a benefit of membership.

Search here to find more than 2,000 feature articles totaling over 35,000 pages, exactly as they originally appeared in the Wisconsin Magazine of History.

The entire archive of previous issues, back to 1917, has been made available online in 2007. This free online access to the Wisconsin Magazine of History is made possible by a generous grant from the Schoenleber Foundation of Milwaukee.


All searches and links to magazine articles will take you to our new Preview website, which has a new look and feel.


About This Collection

1. What is the "Wisconsin Magazine Of History"?

The Wisconsin Magazine of History is a quarterly journal published by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Nearly 100 volumes have appeared since it debuted in September of 1917. The current issue is always available free to Society members and for sale on newstands, and the entire archive of previous issues, back to 1917, has been made available online in 2007. This archive contains most of the articles ever printed anywhere about Wisconsin's past — more than 2,000 feature articles totalling more than 30,000 pages. These range from popular essays to scholarly investigations, from brief eulogies to multi-chapter autobiographies, and from personal reflections to primary documents. The Magazine also included many photographs, maps, and other images over the years.

This treasure trove of Wisconsin history can be searched by topic, county, community, personal name, and many other ways, including any word on any page (not recommended). You can also browse by volume, scan the article titles, and read any that strike your fancy. At the bottom of every page is a "Contact Us" link; please use it. We can usually reply within a few hours. Finally, the predecessor to the Wisconsin Magazine of History is also online for free. Dating 1855-1915, it contains 1,000 articles and documents on 10,000 pages, and is called Wisconsin Historical Collections (at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/whc/).

2. How Was This Digital Edition Prepared?

This online edition is made available for free thanks to a generous grant from the Schoenleber Foundation of Milwaukee. To create it, a pristine copy of every issue was selected from the Society's archives. These were disbound and scanned at the University of Wisconsin's Digital Collections Center. Text pages were captured as TIF images in bitonal mode, half-tones in grayscale, and covers and other color pages in color. These 30,000 TIF files were loaded onto a server at the Wisconsin Historical Society and arranged in proper volume, issue, and page order using CONTENTdm, which also generated a searchable electronic text and a printer-friendly version of each issue. Society staff wrote a brief description of each article, cataloged them by subject matter, and designed the user interface you see here.

3. Searching

Basic Search:

  • Searches within the summaries of feature articles only. Does not search the text of articles (use the Text Search tab for that). Does not include book reviews, editorials, or other regular columns of passing interest.
  • Will retrieve summaries or abstracts of articles that contain substantial information on the topic searched.
  • 'Exact Phrase' will return summaries that include the words next to each other.
  • 'All Words' will return summaries that include all the words anywhere they occur.
  • 'Any Words' will return summaries that include even one of the words you entered.
  • When searching for names, select 'All Words.'
  • Use a Basic Search to locate major articles with significant amounts of information on your topic (use a Text Search to find all references, however minor they may be, to your topic).

Advanced Search:

  • Searches the index terms applied to feature articles by indexers as well as the article summaries. Does not search the text of articles (use the Text Search tab for that). Does not include book reviews, editorials, or other regular columns of passing interest.
  • Will retrieve articles that contain substantial information (at least two or three pages, in most cases) about specific people, places, events, or other subjects.
  • Select a field to search -- author, title word, person’s name, subject term, decade, etc. -- from the left-hand drop-down list
    • In the adjacent box, type a term; for some fields, terms used in the index will pop up automatically (based on Library of Congress headings)
    • Click on a term to enter it in the search box
    • Click on the "Search" button beneath all the boxes
  • Combine up to three fields in a single search: for example, Subject/clothing & dress, with Subject/Native Americans
  • Use the Personal Name field to locate the most important articles about a person (do a Text Search to find every passing reference).
  • Use the County and/or Community field to retrieve the most useful articles about any particular place (do a Text Search to find every passing reference to a place).
  • Choose the Volume Number and Page Number fields to jump to a specific page in a footnote or citation

Text Search:

  • Searches the text on every page.
  • Exact Phrase will return pages that include the words you enter if they occur next to each other.
  • All Words will return pages that include all the words you enter, regardless of where they occur on the page.
  • Any Words will return pages that include any of the words you enter, even pages that include only one of the words.
  • When searching for names, select 'All Words.' If this returns too much, use 'Exact Phrase' and try both 'firstname surname' format and 'surname firstname' format. For well-known figures, use the Personal Name field of the Advanced Search instead.
  • The searchable electronic text was created by computer and has not been painstakingly proofread; its typographical idiosyncrasies may occasionally lead to false hits or missed words.
  • If you don't find what you expect:
    • Try common mis-spellings and alternate forms, such as plurals and synonyms
    • Add other words likely to occur in the same context as your search term
    • Use an Advanced Search instead

Browse:

  • Returns the table of contents for individual issues with links to the first page of each article:
    • Click on a specific volume from the list
    • Scan its contents
    • Click on an article title to see its summary
    • Click "View the Document" to go directly to its opening page

Searching within Issues:

  • Once any page is open on your screen, use the Search box at the upper left to perform a text search of that entire issue of the Magazine. Each volume also has a general index at the end of issue four which can suggest appropriate terminology. For example, 18th-century fur trader and soldier Pierre Marin appears in various documents as Moran or Morand; the Menominee Indians were called by seven other completely unrelated names by the authors of various documents. The printed indexes can help resolve such discrepancies.

4. Reading

Pages open on your screen in a viewer composed of a list of contents on the left, a masthead with links across the top, and an image of the original page on the right. Navigate by scrolling through the contents; click + to open up subdivisions, or "previous page" and "next page" to browse. Use the search box at the upper left to find words within the volume you have open. Use the drop-downs directly beneath it to display information about the volume or the page, or display the page and an electronic text of it side-by-side.

The links in the masthead carry you back to your search results, to the Wisconsin Magazine Of History home page, and to our online Dictionary of Wisconsin History.

5. Printing

Multiple Pages:

  1. When any page is open in the viewer, look for the "Print Version (PDF)" link at the upper right of your screen.
  2. Click this link to open a copy of the entire issue in Adobe Acrobat Reader (this can take 30-40 seconds through most broadband connections and somewhat longer over a dial-up connection)
  3. Locate the "Save a Copy" button at the upper left, and save the issue to your own computer.
  4. Use Acrobat Reader to select and print the pages you need.

A Single Page:

Printing directly from your Web browser may cut off part of the image. You can save the issue as a PDF following the directions above. You can also usually print a full, legible page by following these instructions:

  • Go to the page that you want to print.
  • Right click on the image of the text and select "Copy"
    • open your word processing program and create a new document; OR
    • open an image editing program such as those that come with digital cameras
  • Paste the image of the text into the new document.
  • Print the document.

6. Copying Text

Multiple pages:

  1. When any page is open in the viewer, look for the "Print Version (PDF)" link at the upper right of your screen.
  2. Click this link to open a copy of the entire issue in Adobe Acrobat Reader (this can take 30-40 seconds through most broadband connections and somewhat longer over a dial-up connection)
  3. Locate the "Save a Copy" button at the upper left, and save the issue to your own computer.
  4. Use Adobe Acrobat tools to select and copy text

Short passages:

  • While viewing any page, locate at the upper left of the screen a box saying "document description".
  • Open the drop-down by clicking the arrow
  • Select "page & text" and click "go"
  • Block and copy the electronic text that appears next to the image of the original page. (Note: this electronic text is unpunctuated and uncorrected; you will need to edit it to match the original page image).

7. Additional Help

The online Dictionary of Wisconsin History defines archaic words, translates common French terms, sketches the careers of thousands of people, maps thousands of Wisconsin places, and contains short explanations of hundreds of topics.

More than 100 longer essays on key people and events are available on our Topics in Wisconsin History page.

For a brief narrative of the state's early years, consult A Short History of Wisconsin.

Finally, within the tabs at the top of every page is a link titled "Feedback." Post a question there for Society staff; we can usually answer within a few hours.

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