Poles in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Poles in Wisconsin

Poles in Wisconsin | Wisconsin Historical Society
Dictionary of Wisconsin History.


The Polish experience in Wisconsin was different than other in other communities in the U.S.: most came before 1890 and almost all were from areas ruled by Germany. The first sizable Polish settlement in Wisconsin was Polonia in Portage County in the 1850s. In 1900, 80 percent of Wisconsin's Poles came from Germany while nationally, German Poles constituted only 39 percent of the population. Milwaukee was the center of Polish urban life in Wisconsin and had 30,000 Polish residents in 1890; by 1915, that number had increased to 100,000.  Later migrations of Poles, from the 1890s on, were dominated by Austrian and Russian Poles who followed the path already established by the German Poles.

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