Wisconsin Social History Books and Articles

The books and articles below are about topics in Wisconsin social history. See the right column for more info about this website.

Turning Points in Wisconsin History: 19th Century Immigration

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Go to Collection

Online articles from historical journals and newspapers, books, manuscripts,
and collections of stories on the theme of immigrant settlers in Wisconsin in the 19th century.

immigration, ethnic history, Wisconsin immigrants, online articles, Wisconsin Historical Society, free online library

“The Czechs in Wisconsin History”

Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume 53, No. 3, 1970, 194-203

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Bicha, Karel D.Go to Article

For works about immigration of various ethnic groups, see:
Ohio Social History
(Scotch-Irish and Welsh);
Indiana Social History (Germans);
Illinois Ohio Social History (Norwegians);
Michigan Social History (Dutch, Jews and Armenians);

ethnic history, Czech immigrants, Czech settlers, Wisconsin pioneers, 19th century, 1800s, pioneers, history

The Fighting Finches: Tales of Freebooters of the Pioneer Countryside in Rock and Jefferson Counties

Madison: Works Progress Administration, Federal Writers’ Project, Folklore Section, 1937
Brown, Dorothy Moulding Go to Book

This little book is composed entirely of stories told to W.P.A. field workers as they collected Wisconsin folklore in the late 1930s. They heard many tales about a 19th-century family named Finch who rustled cattle and stole horses throughout Rock and Jefferson counties before the Civil War. The “Fighting Finches” terrorized south-central Wisconsin for three decades from their hideout in London swamp, just west of Lake Mills.
– Summary from Wisconsin Historical Society site

crime, criminal gangs, horse thieves, Rock county WI, Jefferson county WI, Lake Mills WI, folklore, ebooks online

Wisconsin Social History

Centennial Records of the Women of Wisconsin

Madison: Atwood and Culver 1876
Butler, Anna B., Bascom, Emma C and Kerr, Katharine F, eds.
Go to Book

This is a collection of papers on a number of women’s philanthropies in Wisconsin. The first five papers, of over 40, are entitled: Taylor Orphan Asylum, Racine; Home for the Friendless, Milwaukee; Beloit Charities, Beloit; Wisconsin Institution for the Blind, Janesville; and Cadle Home, Green Bay.

Also see: Johnson, Helen Kendrick, Woman and the Republic; a Survey of the Woman-suffrage Movement in the United States and a Discussion of the Claims and Arguments of its Foremost Advocates in Section 324 The political process in Political Science, Economics, Labor

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

women’s history, philanthropy, Taylor Orphan Asylum, Charities, Institution for the Blind, asylums, free online books

“Danish Settlement in Wisconsin”

The Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume 12, number 1, September 1928 pp 19-40

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Christensen, Thomas P.Go to Article

The author provides brief biographical information on a number of Danes who influenced Danish immigration to the U.S. and to Wisconsin. Danes began arriving in Wisconsin in the late 1830s. In the 1840s, Danes often settled first in Racine and later moved on to the western or northern parts of the state. This was partly due to the strong influence of the Lutheran minister at the Danish settlement at Muskego, Claus Laurits Clausen.

ethnic history, Danish immigration, Danish settlers, Racine WI, Muskego WI, 19th century, online history

Stagecoach and Tavern Tales of the Old Northwest

Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark 1930
Cole, Harry E.; edited by Louise P. KelloggGo to Book

Cole was for a time the President of the Wisconsin Historical Society. For many years he collected stories of stagecoaches and taverns, mostly in Wisconsin, and visited many of the old taverns and the homes of pioneer tavern owners. This book contains a history of the early roads and stagecoach operations, but is mainly devoted to the taverns. Included are drawings and photos of a number of them. Chapter headings are:

-Expanding Days
-The Old Military Road
-Territorial Roads
-Stagecoach Days
-Travelers’ Experiences
-The Log Tavern
-Taverns of a Later Time
-Noted Taverns and Taverners
-Taverns in the Shadows
-Tavern Names, Signs and Advertisements
-Tavern Guests and Incidents
-Accommodations at Early Taverns
-Menus and manners
-Pedlars and Prices
-The Tavern as a Community Center
-Gayety and Weddings in Taverns
-Courts and Brawls in Taverns
-Practical Joking at Tavern Gatherings
-Conviviality at Taverns
-Ghosts and Gaming in Taverns
-Tavern Tragedies
-Last Days of the Taverns

stagecoaches, road travel, folklore, tavern history, history of hotels, community life, social customs, books, American history

Wisconsin Social History

“The Cornish in Southwest Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 1898, 301- 334

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Copeland, Louis AlbertGo to Article

ethnic, Cornish immigrants, Cornish settlers, Wisconsin pioneers, 19th century, Wisconsin Historical Collections

“Memoirs of a Pioneer County Editor”

The Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume 11, number 3, March 1928 pp 247- 263

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Cover, Joseph CarmanGo to Article

The author left Ohio for Potosi, Wisconsin in 1846 because his abolitionist views were so unpopular in Ohio that he feared for his life. The article describes his abolitionist and local political activities in Wisconsin.

Newspaper history, memoir, abolition, anti-slavery, Potosi WI, history of journalism, free online history

“Negro Slavery in Wisconsin. An address delivered before the State Historical Society of Wisconsin December 8, 1892”

Madison 1893
Davidson, John NelsonGo to Article

In this short address the author provides the details of several examples of slaves being held in early Wisconsin. In all of the cases mentioned, the slave-owners brought the slaves with them when they immigrated from southern states.

For books on the issue of slavery in Indiana and Illinois, see: Anti-Slavery before the Civil War

slavery, Wisconsin slave owners, 1800s, pioneers, history, history of the U.S.

Wisconsin Social History

How Wisconsin Came by its Large German Element

Madison: State Historical Society 1892
Everest, Kate Asaphine Go to Book

The author found in the 1880 Wisconsin census that residents who were German-born or whose parents were both German-born made up 31 per cent of the state’s population (‘German-born’ includes the mid-19th century German states of Europe as well as German-speaking Austria and Switzerland). She also provides data about the numbers of immigrants during Wisconsin’s first decades of settlement.

One section of this paper is devoted to several movements in Germany and the U.S. to create a German state in the U.S. Another large part of the paper deals with the reasons that German immigrants chose Wisconsin as their destination.

For works about immigration of various ethnic groups, see:
Ohio Social History
(Scotch-Irish and Welsh);
Indiana Social History (Germans);
Illinois Ohio Social History (Norwegians);
Michigan Social History (Dutch, Jews and Armenians);

German immigrants, German settlers, German state, Wisconsin Germans, books, books online

A History of Norwegian Immigration to the United States, from the Earliest Beginning down to the Year 1848

Iowa City: Flom 1909
Flom, George T., PhD Go to Book

This includes many early Norwegian communities in Wisconsin.

ethnic, Norwegian immigrants, Koshkonong, Dodgeville, Pleasant Spring, Muskego, Heart Prairie settlement, Sugar Creek, Norway Grove, Bonnett Prairie, Blue Mounds, American history

New Upsala, the First Swedish Settlement in Wisconsin

Milwaukee: 1936
Forsbeck, Filip A.Go to Book

“The Movement of American Settlers into Wisconsin and Minnesota”

Iowa Journal of History and Politics Volume 17, No. 3, July 1919, 406-428

Iowa City: State Historical Society of Iowa
Goodwin, CardinalGo to Article

For memoirs and biographies of life on the frontier in the Old Northwest, see:
Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History
Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
Biographies & Memoirs in Wisconsin History

frontier history, early settlement, migration, 19th century, 1800s, pioneers, history

Wisconsin Social History

Negro Suffrage in Wisconsin

Milwaukee: Transactions 1895
Gregory, John GoadbyGo to Book

Wisconsin’s Belgian Community

Door County Historical Society, 1933
Holand, Hjalmar RuedGo to Book

(title continued) ” … an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County”

Motherhood on the Wisconsin Frontier

Madison: State Historical Society 1951
Krueger, LillianGo to Book

“The Taverns and Stages of early Wisconsin”

Originally in the Proceedings of the State Historical Society 1914, pp 118-67

Madison: State Historical Society 1915
Lacher, J. H. A.Go to Article

tavern history, hotel history, travel, stagecoach travel, 19th century, 1800s, history online

The Italians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: General Survey

Milwaukee: 1915
La Plana, G. Go to Book

(title continued) ” … Prepared under the direction of the associated charities”

This 85-page booklet is divided into two parts:
1. “The Italian Colony in Milwaukee” is a social report containing information about work, housing, health, education, delinquency, etc.
2. “Public and Private Charities” covers how various organizations responded to the needs of the Italian community.

“Geographical Origin of German Immigration to Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 1898, 341-393

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Levi, Kate Everest, PhDGo to Article

German immigrants, German settlers, places in Germany, origins of immigrants, migration history, history online

“The Journey of an Immigrant Family from The Netherlands to Milwaukee in 1854”

Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume, No., page number, date

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Lucas, Henry S., ed.Go to Article

Dutch immigrants, Dutch settlers, Milwaukee history, ethnic, public domain

Wisconsin Social History

The Planting of the Swiss Colony at New Glarus, Wisconsin

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1892
Luchsinger, John Go to Book

The author reported that at the time of writing, virtually all of the 600 residents of the village of New Glarus and most of the residents of the township were themselves Swiss immigrants or children of Swiss immigrants, and they normally spoke Swiss German among themselves. He estimated there were about 8,000 Swiss in Green county, and the neighboring county of Dane also had a large Swiss element. He goes on to discuss economic conditions in Glarus, Switzerland in the 1840s, and tells the story of the creation of the colony in Green county that became New Glarus.

ethnic, Swiss immigrants, Swiss settlers, New Glarus WI, Dane county WI, books, history articles

“The Belgians of Northeast Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 13, 1895, 375-396

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Martin, XavierGo to Article

ethnic, Belgian immigrants, Belgian settlers, Belgian communities, Brown County WI, Kewaunee Co WI, Door county WI, American history online

“Cooperative Communities in Wisconsin”

Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the State Historical Society Vol 51, 1904, 99-117

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
McIntosh, Montgomery EduardGo to Article

The following cooperative communities are covered: The Wisconsin Phalanx (Fourierist), St. Nazianz (German Catholic), Hunt’s Colony (Owenite), The Utilitarian Association (English cooperative farm), Spring Farm Association.

cooperative communities, experimental communities, phalanx, Fourierists, St. Nazianz, Hunt’s Colony, Utilitarian Association, Spring Farm Association, free history magazines

Wisconsin Social History

“The Dutch Settlements of Sheboygan County”

The Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume 1, number 3, March 1918 pp 256- 265

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Rederus, Sipko F.Go to Article

The author describes the difficult conditions in Holland in the 1830s and 1840s that led to increased emigration, and narrates the establishment and early history of several Dutch communities in Wisconsin, beginning in the 1840s.

For works about immigration of various ethnic groups, see:
Ohio Social History
(Scotch-Irish and Welsh);
Indiana Social History (Germans);
Illinois Ohio Social History (Norwegians);
Michigan Social History (Dutch, Jews and Armenians);

Dutch immigrants, Dutch settlers, Dutch communities, Sheboygan county WI, Zonne settlement, Cedar Grove, history online

“The Greeks of Milwaukee

Wisconsin Magazine of History Volume 53, No. 3, 1970, 175-193

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Salutos, TheodoreGo to Article

Greek immigrants, ethnic, Milwaukee Greeks, public domain, history

“The Icelanders on Washington Island”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 1898, 335-340

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
White, Harry K.Go to Article

Icelandic immigrants, Icelandic settlers, Washington Island WI, ethnic, free history magazine, history

Testimony of Working Women, 1914

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Wisconsin Legislature. Committee on White Slave Traffic and Kindred SubjectsGo to Book

“In 1913, the Wisconsin Legislature established a committee to investigate the causes of prostitution and other vice in Wisconsin….” “In the 1914 testimony, working women from around the state answered questions at hearings held in Green Bay, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and Superior. The women worked in a range of jobs from a factory worker at a paper mill, to a store clerk, a landlady and a telephone operator. Committee members asked the women questions about their wages, their working and living conditions, and why they chose to work in a given job, all in an effort to understand what “leads young girls astray” in the words of one investigator.”
– Wisconsin Historical Society, “Turning Points in Wisconsin History” website

Centennial Records of the Women of Wisconsin

Madison: Atwood and Culver 1876
Woman’s State Centennial Executive CommitteeGo to Book

This consists of reports from philanthropic organizations around the state.

Turning Points in Wisconsin History: The Woman’s Suffrage Movement

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Go to Collection

Online articles, books and images from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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

Great Lakes Social History

Ohio Social History

Indiana Social History

Illinois Social History

Michigan Social History

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