African American History

The first Africans Americans came to Wisconsin with French and British fur traders in the eighteenth century. While many were enslaved, others traded independently and owned their own land. This Wisconsin 101 collection features stories from the fur trade and mining eras before jumping to the twentieth century, when African American’s in music and bowling used their talents to shape American culture and claim an important place in our state’s history.

The collection is divided into three parts:

Slavery and the Mining Rush

A portrait of James D. Williams showing an African American man wearing a light colored suit, a vest, and a dark tie smiling at the camera

The Blues in Port Washington

Portrait of Louis Armstrong with his Trumpet.

African American Bowling Leagues and Earlene Fuller

Learn more:

Paramount Records feature by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life

The history of Paramount Records in Wisconsin