Wisconsin Historical Society

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Historical Essay

Labor Day in Wisconsin

Beyond Beer and Brats
Explore the history of Labor Day celebrations in Wisconsin.
Historical Essay

Battle of the Crater at the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia

Civil War Battle Summary
Discover the role that Wisconsin troops, including Menominee warriors and our only unit of Black soldiers, played in a dramatic Civil War battle.
Historical Essay

When the Rapture Failed in 1844

A Disappointment that Created a Community
Learn about the most successful Utopian community in Wisconsin, born of a failed doomsday prediction.
Historical Essay

The Mysterious Ballots of 1855

A Dishonest Democrat and a Radical Republican
Learn about the election that was so close that Wisconsin briefly had two governors until one was exposed for tampering with ballots.
Historical Essay

Eau Claire's Bawdy Past

The Naughty City
Discover Eau Claire's naughty past as a hub of prostitution for the lumbermen looking to support the world's oldest profession.
Historical Essay

Martin Luther King and Wisconsin

The Civil Right's Leader Shows his Support
Discover the connection Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King had with the 1960s protests in Milwaukee.
Historical Essay

Pearl Harbor through Wisconsin Eyes

Witnesses Tell Their Stories
Learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor through these firsthand accounts from Wisconsinites who were there when it happened.
Historical Essay

American Indian Thanksgivings

Evidence of First Feasts
Take a look at some first hand accounts of the ways Native Americans of Wisconsin celebrated their own Thanksgiving ceremonies.
Historical Essay

Sundae Sermon

Defining Sundaes
Was the first ice cream sundae made in Wisconsin or New York? Give this whimsical story a read and come to your own conclusion.
Historical Essay

When Beer Was Almost Illegal

A Popular Speaker Sways Opinion
Discover the connection between P.T. Barnum and the 1853 statewide referendum on liquor sales.
Historical Essay

Lumberjack Saved Union Fleet

3,000 Dam the Red River
Read this wild story about a Wisconsin Dells lumberjack applying his knowledge of dams to help Union forces escape a Confederate attack.
Historical Essay

Juliet Severance, Radical Victorian

A Good Mother, a Good Friend and a Good Woman
Discover Juliet Severance, the free-thinking Whitewater physician who was involved with the anti-slavery movement, temperance and women's rights.
Historical Essay

Curling in Wisconsin

The Amusing History of the Scots Influence on Wisconsin
Discover the rich history of the sport of curling in Wisconsin.
Historical Essay

Nation's First Quintuplets Born in Wisconsin

The Surprise and Aftermath of a Miraculous Birth
Discover the sad story of the naturally-conceived set of quintuplets born in Watertown, believed to be the first set of quintuplets in the U.S.
Historical Essay

Madison's First Thanksgiving

The Power of the Pumpkin
Read the story of the first Thanksgiving celebrated in Madison.
Historical Essay

Madison's First Presidential Visit

The Brief Stay of Rutherford B. Hayes
Discover the visits US presidents have paid to Wisconsin
Historical Essay

Death to Capital Punishment

How Wisconsin Eliminated the Death Penalty
Read about the final person to be executed in Wisconsin before the state prohibited the death penalty.
Historical Essay

The Story of Memorial Day

Celebrations of Memorial Day Throughout History
Discover the history of Memorial Day celebrations in Wisconsin.
Historical Essay

Pierce, Hettie, 1829-1944

Madison's Oldest Resident
Born into slavery, Hettie Pierce lived 115 years and was able to fully experience both life before and after emancipation.
Historical Essay

Aunt Mary Ann: Wisconsin's First Doctor

From Slave to Healer
Learn about Mary Ann Menard, Wisconsin's first doctor.

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