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William Best Hesseltine Award

Congratulations to Matthew Prigge, winner of the William Best Hesseltine Award for Volume 96 of the "Wisconsin Magazine of History."

His article, The 'Girl-Man' of Milwaukee, appeared in the Spring 2013 issue and received the most votes from readers for the best article of the volume year.

The compelling story of Cora Anderson/Ralph Kerwineo captured the interest of readers, who appreciated a rare opportunity to see into the completely different experiences of men and women at the beginning of the 20th century. An educated woman of African American and Native American descent, Cora Anderson attempted to make her way into the world and found the odds insurmountable. Her solution, for herself and her roommate, was to assume the role of husband and man of the house. Transforming herself into the dashing "Bolivian gentleman" Ralph Kerwineo, he found a good job in Milwaukee and was accepted wholeheartedly into a different world - one that brought the opportunities and advantages of a man's life into sharp focus. Ultimately, after living as a man for many years, a shocking scandal revealed his dual identities, and Kerwineo was forced to return to living as Cora Anderson by court order. The story was recorded in newspapers of the day in Kerwineo's own words. Kerwineo's articulate interviews revealed astute observations and insight into a historical experience of gender as privilege.

Access our online archives of the Wisconsin Magazine of History in order to read the article online.

Matthew J. Prigge is a freelance historian and writer. He won the Theatre Historical Society of America's 2010 Weiss Award for his essay on the history of pornographic film exhibition in Milwaukee. Matthew received his master's degree in history from the UW-Milwaukee in 2012 and is currently pursuing his PhD. He lives in Milwaukee with his two cats, Beavis and Applesauce.

About the Award

The William Best Hesseltine Award was established in 1965 in memory of historian and Wisconsin Historical Society past president William B. Hesseltine. Each year member readers vote for the best original article of the volume year. The award winner receives a $100 prize.

Previous Winners

    • 2011 - 2012: Kathryn Parks and Colleen McFarland
      for their article, "Stitch by Stich: The Life and Legacy of Elizabeth Zimmermann"

    • 2010 - 2011: Jeffrey J. McLean
      for the article, "The MacArthurs and the Mitchells: Wisconsin's First Military Families"

    • 2009 - 2010: Lynda Salisbury and Lonna Schumacher Morouney
      for the article, "Encore, Encore! On Stage with the Sidell Sisters and the Leo Kehl School of Dancing"

    • 2008 - 2009: William Povletich
      for the article, "Liberace: The Milwaukee Maestro"

    • 2007 - 2008: Mark Speltz
      for the article, "If Ordinary Walls Could Talk: Piecing Together the History of My House"

    • 2006 - 2007: Erika Janik
      for the article, "Good Morning Homemakers!"

    • 2005 - 2006: Amelia Klem Osterud
      for the article, "A Life of Her Own Choosing: Anna Gibbons' Fifty Years as a Tattooed Lady"

    • 2004 - 2005: Russell Horton
      for the article, "Unwanted in a White Man's War: The Civil War Service of the Green Bay Tribes"

    • 2003 - 2004: Clark Kidder
      for the article, "West by Orphan Train"

    • 2002 - 2003: William H. Tishler and Erik M. Ghenoiu
      for the article, "Conservation Pioneers: Jens Jensen and the Friends of Our Native Landscape"

    • 2001 - 2002: Jim Draeger and Gerry Strey (tie)
      for Jim Drager's article, "Postal-Perfect: My Pursuit of Mail-Order Homes in Wisconsin," and Gerry Strey's article, "The 'Oleo Wars': Wisconsin's Fight over the Demon Spread"


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