Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Wisconsin Women - Image Gallery Essay

Wisconsin women | Wisconsin Historical Society
A view of rows of desks with women employees. Behind the work area two men, the supervisor and the Secretary of State Fred Zimmerman, stand.

Auto License Bureau, 1939

Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Auto License Bureau Card Typing Department, located at 16-20 East Doty Street. Women government employees are sitting at desks, while a male supervisor and Secretary of State Fred Zimmerman, the government official then responsible for issuing Wisconsin drivers licenses, stand in the background. The only decoration in this sterile workplace is a license plate with the slogan "America's Dairyland." View the original source document: WHI 14425

EnlargeA woman and small child are standing on a sidewalk with 'Stop School Segregation' signs.

School Desegregation Pickets, 1964

A woman and child carry CORE picket signs protesting school segregation. View the original source document: WHI 4993

The Historical Society heralds the role of women in Wisconsin history. This history is documented richly in the photographic holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society. This collection of nearly 10,000 images includes photographs of exceptional women, as well as those who are often unheralded as they go about the tasks of daily life. Family photographers, professional photographers and photojournalists have all contributed to the collection. Their images capture women working on the farm and in the city, participating in wartime activities and protest movements, caring for families and working in factories. Click on the smaller galleries to view images of women focused around a certain theme.

Women and Their Contributions

Women have contributed to the American war effort on the home front and the battle front. The Society collections document the participation of Wisconsin women in the Civil War, the First and Second World Wars and the Vietnam Conflict. The Society’s collections document many ways in which Wisconsin women have played an active role in work on the farm, in the factory, and at home.

EnlargeDickey Chapelle, holding her camera while framing in a shot. There is a tank in the background.

Dickey Chapelle at Opening of St. Lawrence Seaway, 1959

Dickey Chapelle, photographer, at the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, "Operation Inland Seas." View the original source document: WHI 1942

Three Important Women

Clara Bewick Colby, a resident of Windsor, Wisconsin and an 1869 University of Wisconsin graduate, was active in the national suffrage movement.

Dicky Chapelle, a war correspondent born in Shorewood, Wisconsin, covered the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. She was killed in action covering the Vietnam Conflict.

Carrie Chapman Catt, born in 1859 in Ripon, WI, was an activist, reporter and teacher who was part of the women's suffrage movement and founder of the League of Women Voters.

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