Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History

Fall 2019, Volume 103, Number 1

Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeWisconsin Magazine of History | From the Northwoods to Alaska | John Muir's University Days | Book Excerpt, Job Man

View the original source document: WHI 143073

Wisconsin Magazine of History Cover Image

The Conners family of South Range, Wisconsin, merited a full-color photo in the Milwaukee Journal in May 1935 when they set out with 201 other families to resettle the Matanuska Valley in Alaska as part of a federal colonization project. Parents George and Edith Conners stand with Junior, 2, while Irving, 9, Dixon, 7, and Joyce, 3, sit perched on the family’s luggage. As the original caption notes, “The children have new boots for the adventure.”

Table of Contents

EnlargeA group of boys shoot marbles at the Matanuska Valley resettlement camp, ca. 1935

Matanuska Valley Resettlement Camp

A group of boys shoot marbles at the Matanuska Valley resettlement camp, ca. 1935 View the original source document: WHI 142305

Alaska, Ho! Arville Schaleben and the Matanuska Valley Colony

By Matt Blessing

It’s a familiar scene from 1930s America: a gang of boys shooting marbles on dusty ground, a circle inscribed in the dirt by the shooter’s finger. Yet this match took place in an unlikely spot: Matanuska Valley, Alaska Territory. In the summer of 1935, 202 farming families left their homes in northern Wiscon¬sin, Minnesota, and Michigan and journeyed northwest to forge a new settlement in Alaska’s most fertile valley. This little-known program was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and it had two stated goals: to alleviate the crushing unemployment crisis in the upper Midwest and help populate the territory. Another goal, unspoken but central to FDR’s geopolitical objectives, was to build American presence in the remote territory should ten-sions in the Pacific corridor escalate. Author Matt Blessing tells the story of resettlement through the eyes of a Milwaukee Journal reporter-in-the-field in “Alaska, Ho! Arville Schaleben and the Matanuska Valley Colony.”


EnlargeJohn Muir, ca. 1861, during his years as a student at UW–Madison.

John Muir

John Muir, ca. 1861, during his years as a student at UW–Madison. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN–MADISON ARCHIVES S04988

A Badger in Full: John Muir at the University of Wisconsin

By Tim Ernst

Scottish born but raised in Wisconsin, a young John Muir studied at the University of Wisconsin from 1861 to 1863, residing in North Hall, where many of his inventions were on display to passersby. Though times have changed, the parallels between Muir and modern Wisconsin students are both striking and surprising. This article explores Muir’s experience at the university and highlights how his time in Madison influenced his later career as America’s best known naturalist and the founder of the national park system.


EnlargePhotograph of this unidentified woman and dog at Sand Island by shutterbug lighthouse keeper Emmanuel Luick.

Lake Superior Lighthouse

Lake Superior’s freezing waves made for a gorgeous, if somewhat treacherous, setting for the photograph of this unidentified woman at Sand Island by shutterbug lighthouse keeper Emmanuel Luick. PIKE RESEARCH CENTER ARCHIVES 2013.202.14

Image Essay: Emmanual Luick: Lighthouse Keeper behind the Lens

By Dennis McCann

For twenty-nine years, Emmanual Luick kept the light at the Sand Island lighthouse in Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands. In the off-season, he operated a professional photo studio in Iron River, pursuing an interest that he held for his entire adult life. A small number of his photos were known to have survived in family trunks or photo albums, but when a new collection of images, many of them from Sand Island, was found for sale online, the Apostle Islands Historic Preservation Conservancy moved quickly to obtain the glass-plate images as a way of preserving not only a community’s history but a part of their lives as well.


EnlargeCrowd of people wait outside of the Mikadow Theater in the snow

Mikadow Theater

Waiting in the snow outside the box office of the Mikadow Theater in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, ca. 1950. MANITOWOC COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY 2006.40.156

An Usher in the Golden Age of Cinema

By Ken Neuser

During the golden age of cinema during the 1950s, a small but essential working crew existed in many of the small, locally owned movie theaters throughout the country including the Mikadow Theater in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Ken Neuser tells the story in this short memoir.


A subscription to the Wisconsin Magazine of History is a benefit of membership to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The current issue, described above, will become available in the online archives as soon the next issue is published.

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