Wisconsin Cultural History: Education, Recreation, the Arts …

The works below are on topics in the cultural history of Wisconsin. See the right column for more info about this website.

Educational Documents: “Inauguration of the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin: Address” …

Milwaukee: Sentinel 1850
Go to Book

(title continued) “… Report of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin”, “Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction”

This volume is a collection of documents related to the formation of the University of Wisconsin and the public school system shortly after Wisconsin became a State in 1848. These documents report on progress of the University and school system, and lay out visions for the future of education in Wisconsin

In January 1850 John H. Lathrop was inaugurated as the first chancellor, and the first documents are speeches from that event; one by a Board representative and the other by the Chancellor. Both are inspiring speeches that describe the men’s visions of the role of universities in the modern world and the advancement of the U.S., as well as the expected contribution to the people of Wisconsin.

The Second Annual Report of the Board describes progress in making the new University of Wisconsin operational. Parts of the report address selecting and acquiring a site for the campus, decisions about type, size and location of buildings, a construction plan (“erection of edifices”) , plan of organization of colleges and departments, and more specific academic details on establishing for professorships, creating a Normal School (for teacher training), and setting up departments of Law and Medicine. The report also addresses Board views on the appropriate relationship between the University and other educational institutions in the state.

The next major document is the first annual report to the State Legislature by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Most common schools had begun operating when Wisconsin was still a Territory, but new procedures and reporting requirements were required by the State Legislature. The first part of the report contains data about schooling being provided to children. The Superintendent estimated that there were 80,000 children between ages 4 and 20 in the state, and 46,000 of them attended school in the past year, for a bit less than four months on average.

The Superintendent’s report also included a brief description of what had been achieved thus far, and then an extensive portion of the report was devoted to proposals for improving the education system. He included with his own proposals a number of letters from educators in New England and New York, including Horace Mann, and also a proposed system of teacher training from the new UW Chancellor.

Wisconsin Idea, public education history, higher education, history of education, University of Wisconsin, free ebooks, Wisconsin public education

“The Normal School of the United States Turnerbund at Milwaukee”

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper Feb 6, 1886, page 412

New York: Frank Leslie
Go to Article

” The turnverein movement (“turnverein” means athletic club) was brought to the United States by German immigrants who were ardent practitioners of gymnastics. The American Turnerbund was formed in 1850 and espoused a variety of controversial issues such as abolition and socialism. Later, in 1880, the federation made introducing physical education in all American schools their primary goal. That same year, George Brosius, director of the normal department of the German American Turnerbund, led a team from Milwaukee to an international competition in Frankfurt am Main, where the Milwaukee team claimed several prizes. This article describes the history of turnerbund in Milwaukee.”
– Wisconsin Historical Society

The Status of Teachers in Wisconsin

Madison: Department of Public Instruction 1923?
Anderson, Charles JosephGo to Book

This describes teacher preparation throughout the state, with separate sections on rural schools, elementary and high school teachers, and the various institutions and programs that contribute to teacher training. Teacher salaries are also covered.

Rural Cultural Arts in Wisconsin

Madison: University of Wisconsin 1940
Barton, John R.Go to Book

A 20-page booklet produced in 1940 by the Extension Service of the College of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin. The focus was generally more on the present than on the past, but the chapter on Literature has some historical interest. Chapter headings and contents are:

-“Rural Literature – Native to the Soil”. Covers a number of American rural writers, not only from Wisconsin, and their novels, poetry and biographies.
-“Rural Art – Created by the People”. Describes an exhibition of Wisconsin rural farm art in 1940 and provides a catalogue of it.
-“Rural Drama – of Folks and Fields”. Covers a trend in the 1930s toward staging of plays in rural areas.
-“Folk Music – Many Voices in Unison”.
-“Social Recreation – Joy in the Common Life”.

rural culture, arts, folk music, rural Wisconsin, books online

Folklore Pamphlets, 1921-1945; Folklore and Folktales Collected by Charles E. Brown

Madison: University of Wisconsin
Brown, Charles Edward Go to Book

Collection of 47 pamphlets published 1921-45. Brown was curator of the Museum of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and secretary of the Wisconsin Archaeological Society. He collected folklore on Wisconsin Indians, lumbering, steam-boating, local history and related topics, which he published in pamphlets. Some of the titles are:

Lake Mendota Indian Legends, Indian Flower Toys and Games, Paul Bunyan Tales, Flapjacks from Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, Ole Olson, The Ridgeway Ghost, Whiskey Jack Yarns, Bluenose Brainerd Stories, French Pathfinders of Wisconsin.

free online books, folklore, Wisconsin folklore, Paul Bunyan, Whiskey Jack, Indian legends, Ole Olson, Indian folklore, folktales

Wisconsin Cultural History

Wisconsin Circus Lore 1850-1908

Brown, Dorothy MouldingGo to Book

(title continued) ” … Stories of the Big Top, Sawdust Ring, Menagerie, and Sideshows”

“Collected in the former Circus Towns of Delavan, Evansville, Janesville, Whitewater, Watertown, and Baraboo. Showmen, Equestrians, Aerialists, Acrobats, Clowns, and Freaks, Elephants, Horses, Monkeys, Bears, and “Cats”

Historical Sketches of the Colleges of Wisconsin; Prepared for the National Centennial Exposition for 1876

Madison: Atwood & Culver 1876
Chapin, Aaron L.Go to Book

This volume contains 30-page histories for Beloit College, Racine College, and Milton College, and much shorter chapters for Lawrence University and Ripon College.

Wisconsin universities, books online free, Wisconsin colleges, higher education, history of education, Milton College, Racine College, Beloit College, Lawrence University, Ripon College

Rural Clubs in Wisconsin

Madison: Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Wisconsin 1916
Galpin, C. J. and Sawtelle, D. W.Go to Book

A bulletin from UW’s Agricultural Experiment Station intended to promote rural clubs as well as report on them. Four types of existing rural clubs are covered here, with examples from around the state: farmers’ family clubs, farm men’s clubs, farm women’s clubs, and young folks’ clubs.

“Early Day Architects in Milwaukee”

The Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume 10, number 1, September 1926 pp 17-28

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Guth, Alexander CarlGo to Article

The author was a Milwaukee architect, in later years, serving as Secretary of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects. In this article he describes his research in tracking down the identity of the architects of early Milwaukee buildings, and describes some of those buildings and design achievements.

Also see:
– Baas, Christopher, “Concrete in the Steel City: Constructing Thomas Edison’s House for the Working Man” in Indiana Cultural History
Cameron, William, The World’s Fair, Being a Pictorial History of the Columbian Exposition in Illinois Cultural History;
O’Donnell, Thomas Edward, “An Outline of the History of Architecture in Illinois” in Illinois Cultural History;
O’Donnell, Thomas E., compiled, “Recording the Early Architecture of Illinois in the Historic American Buildings Survey” in Illinois Cultural History;
Varney, Almon C., Our Homes and their Adornments, or, How to Build, Finish, Furnish, and Adorn a Home in Michigan Cultural History
numerous works in: Section 720 Architecture in Architecture – Public and Residential Buildings

Milwaukee architecture, books online, architecture in Wisconsin

One Hundred Years of Wisconsin Authorship; 1836-1936. A Contribution to a Bibliography of Books by Wisconsin Authors (Part 1)

Madison: Wisconsin Library Association 1937
Hazeltine, Mary EmogeneGo to Book

This directory of Wisconsin’s published authors of fiction and non-fiction is organized by category of subject matter of the books. 903 Wisconsin authors during the 100-years to 1936 are included. Omitted are “… authors of erudite treatises, manuals, textbooks, and similar publications.” Bibliographic information for their books and brief biographical entries for the authors are included, and there are cross references to other publications with more extensive information on the books or authors.

For information on profiled authors, see: Sharp, Robert Farquharson, Dictionary of English Authors, Biographical and Bibliographical in Century Past Collective Biographies: Authors Q–Z and Adams, Oscar Fay, Dictionary of American Authors in Century Past Collective Biographies – Authors A–F

Wisconsin, author, Wisconsin writers, Wisconsin history, books, bibliography, free ebooks

Wisconsin Cultural History

The Founding of Public Education in Wisconsin

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1956
Jorgenson, Lloyd P.Go to Book

A history of public education since frontier days.

Early Printing in Milwaukee

Milwaukee: Wisconsin Cuneo 1930
McMurtrie, Douglas C.Go to Book

This small book contains an account of the early printers and newspapers in Milwaukee from 1836 to about 1850, as well as what appears to be a complete list of all books printed by those printers during that that time period.

For online collections of historical Wisconsin newspapers, see: Wisconsin History Periodicals: Magazines, Historical Journals & Newspapers
For online collections of historical newspapers from throughout the U.S., see: Section 071.1 United States in Newspapers: Free Online Collections

Milwaukee printers, printing history, Milwaukee newspapers, free books, Wisconsin history

Guide to Wisconsin Newspapers 1833-1957

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1958
Oehlerts, Donald E. Go to Book

The Introduction of this 300-page volume is a short history of the newspaper industry in Wisconsin. The remainder of the book is organized by counties, with every known newspaper listed, including beginning and ending days of operation, name changes, editors, and archives or libraries where copies were held at the time this directory was published. The author mentioned that the State Historical Society in Madison had the most extensive collection of newspapers in the state. Many of these were on microfilm.

For online collections of historical Wisconsin newspapers, see: Wisconsin History Periodicals: Magazines, Historical Journals & Newspapers
For online collections of historical newspapers from throughout the U.S., see: Section 071.1 United States in Newspapers: Free Online Collections

Wisconsin newspapers, history of newspapers, Wisconsin history, books online

Public Education in Wisconsin

Madison 1924
Patzer, Conrad E.Go to Book

The author was a Supervisor of Practice Teaching at the Milwaukee State Normal School. He had been a teacher and school administrator for many years prior to holding that position, and spent a year in Europe studying their school systems.

This volume is in three parts. Part 1 is a history of public education in Wisconsin, from elementary level to University. Part 2 is the author’s proposal for reorganizing the public school system. Part 3 consists of summaries of educational laws from 1836 to the time of publication.

For books & articles on education of women and girls, see: Education of Females in the 19th Century

public education, history of education, Wisconsin public schools, Wisconsin education laws, Milwaukee State Normal School, books

Wisconsin Cultural History


NY: Oxford Univ. 1920
Pyre, James Francis AugustinGo to Book

A history of the University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin in Story and Song; Selections from the Prose and Poetry of Badger State Writers

Madison: Parker Educational 1916
Rounds, Charles Ralph, and Hippensteel, Henry Sherman, eds. Go to Book

Excerpts from the following ‘General Wisconsin Writers’ were included here: Hamlin Garland, General Charles King, John Muir, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Ray Stannard Baker, Zona Gale, Eben Eugene Rexford, Carl Schurz, Honore Willsie, Edna Ferber, George L. Teeple, George Byron Merrick, Hattie Tyng Griswold, Albert H. Sanford, Charles D. Stewart, Elliott Flower, Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Everett McNeill. There are also more excerpts from people the author terms ‘The University Group’, ‘Writers of Local Distinction’ and ‘Wisconsin Humorists’.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

writer, poets, humorists, Edna Ferber, John Muir, Ray Stannard Baker, Zona Gale, Hamlin Garland, Carl Schurz, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, fiction, novelist, free books

Subject Bibliography of Wisconsin History

Madison: State Historical Society 1947
Schlinkert, Leroy, comp.Go to Book

A 200-page directory for teachers, amateur historians and scholars of selected publications of importance on major subjects.

Guide for Home Economics in Wisconsin Schools

Madison: State Dept of Public Instruction 1956
State Dept of Public Instruction Go to Paper

This paper provides recommended basic themes and topics for Home Economics education for each grade from 7 to 12.

The Columbian History of Education in Wisconsin

Milwaukee: State Committee on Educational Exhibit 1893
Stearns, J. W., ed.Go to Book

This 700-page volume was assembled for the 1893 Columbian Exhibition. It contains a 70-page ‘General Sketch of the History of Education in Wisconsin’, followed by short sketches of each college, normal school, and institutions for the handicapped. There is a section on ‘Special Forms and Agencies of Education’ that includes such organizations as the Wisconsin Farmers’ Institutes, City Libraries, and the Milwaukee Public Museum. There are chapters on a number of the city and county public school systems, and on Lutheran and Catholic school systems. Also there is a chapter on the Milwaukee College for Women.

For more works on girls’ and women’s education, see: Section 376 Education of women in Education, Public Administration & Social Issues

Some mid-19th Century school textbooks are at: Great Lakes Region Cultural History: Education, the Arts

education history, Wisconsin public education, higher education, Columbian Exhibition, books online, Wisconsin Farmers’ Institutes, Milwaukee College for Women

Bibliography of Wisconsin Authors; being a list of books and other publications…

Madison: State Historical Society 1893
Thwaites, Reuben Gold and others, comp.Go to Book

(title continued) “… written by Wisconsin authors, in the library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin”

Arranged in alphabetical order of authors’ names, this bibliography includes books, pamphlets, articles in magazines, papers in published transactions of learned and industrial bodies, and contributions to collected works, whether or not they are in the library of the State Historical Society. It does not include contributions to news journals or newspapers.

For information on profiled authors, see: Sharp, Robert Farquharson, Dictionary of English Authors, Biographical and Bibliographical in Century Past Collective Biographies: Authors Q–Z and Adams, Oscar Fay, Dictionary of American Authors in Century Past Collective Biographies – Authors A–F

Wisconsin authors, books, writers, poets, free books, bibliography

Wisconsin Cultural History

The University of Wisconsin : Its History and its Alumni, with historical and descriptive sketches of Madison

Madison: Purcell 1900
Thwaites, Reuben GoldGo to Book

This volume begins with a short history of Madison, followed by a history of the University of over 100 pages, both authored by Reuben Thwaites of the Historical Society. Next are a number of articles on the various colleges and schools within the University, and then articles about affiliated organizations. Following that are biographies; first of regents, then of faculty and staff, then of alumni.

Wisconsin Idea, higher education, University of Wisconsin history, faculty biographies, books free

“Early History of Education in Wisconsin and History of School Supervision in Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 5 (1868) pp 321-68

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Whitford, W. C.Go to Article

The paper is divided into three sections; focusing on the French missionaries amongst the Indian tribes, the discovery and working of the lead mines, and the western settlement fever that hit after the Black Hawk War. Wisconsin’s first white families, mostly French Canadian, educated their children at home; early schools were mission schools intended to civilize and Christianize Indians. The idea of more established educational institutions came with settlers from the eastern U.S, and as a result, starting in 1837, bills were introduced to create a public school system. The establishment of a free school system, state universities, colleges, and other types of schools in the 19th century are also described.
– Summary from Wisconsin Historical Society site.

history of education, Wisconsin schools, public education, Wisconsin history, mission schools

Facts About Education in Wisconsin

Madison 1941
Wisconsin Congress of Parents and TeachersGo to Book

This handbook for citizens describes all types of schools in the state, including specialty schools for the handicapped, covers the training and certification of teachers, library services, school finance, teachers’ retirement, and administration of education.

Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters

Madison: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
Vol 1- 89, 1870- 2001 Go to Periodical

The Academy was chartered by the state legislature in 1870 with the mission of gathering, sharing, and acting upon knowledge in the sciences, arts and letters for the benefit of the people of Wisconsin. Transactions was issued irregularly in the early decades, with the first 10 volumes appearing over 25 years. A few of the many articles that appeared in Vol 2 (1873-1874) include:

-The philosophy of evolution
-The effect of duties on imports upon the value of gold
-Natural history as a branch of elementary education
-On the relation of the sandstone, conglomerates and limestone of the Baraboo valley to each other and to the azoic quartzites
-Requisites to a reform of the civil service
-Some of the peculiarities of the fauna near Racine
-On the Wisconsin River improvement
-The etymology of “church”
-History of the science of hydraulics
-The rural classes of England in the thirteenth century

Wisconsin periodicals, arts and sciences, books online

You can find more works like these at our other ‘Cultural History’ pages.

Great Lakes Cultural History

Ohio Cultural History

Indiana Cultural History

Illinois Cultural History

Michigan Cultural History

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