Charles McCarthy, architect of progressive reforms, is recalled.

Charles McCarthy

Although little known today, few Progressive Era figures exemplified the movement's ideals better than Charles McCarthy. Working in an obscure office called the Legislative Reference Library, he and his staff brought the knowledge of university experts to bear on bills submitted for approval to the legislature. McCarthy's LRB became the institution that drafted bills at the request of legislators, and did it so effectively that they withstood later challenges by partisans of all viewpoints. He was the author of the book "The Wisconsin Idea" that popularized the phrase, advocate for the University Extension System that carried expertise from the Madison campus into every county in the state, and the behind-the-scenes architect of all Progressive Era legislation. When he died unexpectedly in 1921, this summary of his career appeared in The Survey, a national journal of news and opinion.

Related Topics: The Progressive Era
Progressivism and the Wisconsin Idea
Creator: Wehle, Louis B.
Pub Data: The Survey, April 9, 1921.
Citation: Wehle, Louis B. "Charles McCarthy." The Survey, April 9, 1921. Online facsimile at:; Visited on: 1/31/2023