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Agriculture and Environment

  • A group photo showing a gathering of men behind an American and a Swiss flag

    The Swiss Roots of America’s “Dairyland”

    When the wheat crop failures of the late nineteenth century jeopardized the incomes of many of Wisconsin’s immigrant farmers, the region’s Swiss population transitioned to a trade that they knew from the Old World: dairying …

  • When Lake Koshkonong was a Marsh

    Maintaining practices like an annual visit to Lake Koshkanong to hunt and harvest food is an important way for indigenous knowledge and culture to be passed-on to the next generation.

  • Migrant Workers and the Bond Pickle Company

    The Bond Pickle Company of Oconto, Wisconsin was founded in 1915 by five brothers. The Bond brothers quicklydeveloped the firm, by 1917 acquiring 10 “salting stations” where the cucumbers were received from local farmers and a processing …

  • a black and white photo of poorly maintained migrant workers cabins from 1962

    Wisconsin’s Migrant Housing Laws

    Before World War II, most of the migrant workers in Wisconsin’s pickle fields were single young men, and pickle companies provided housing for workers in large dormitories. After World War II, however, farmers began to …

  • Oliver, Sheldon, and Glen Fardig help in the Fardig Orchard in Ephraim, WI, c. 1930. Photograph courtesy of the Ephraim Historical Foundation.

    Migrant Labor and Door County Cherries

    Early Door County cherry orchards relied heavily on local workers, and all members of the family were expected to contribute. From the planting process, spraying of fungicides, pruning, and finally cherry picking, each cherry tree …

  • More Agriculture & Environment posts

Home and Daily Life

  • When Lake Koshkonong was a Marsh

    Maintaining practices like an annual visit to Lake Koshkanong to hunt and harvest food is an important way for indigenous knowledge and culture to be passed-on to the next generation.

  • an illustration of an infant reaching for a bottle of malted milk

    Malted Milk and Infant Nutrition

    Although known today mostly as a flavoring for milk shakes and chocolate-covered malt balls, malted milk made its first appearance in the 1880s as a substitute for human breast milk.  At that time, breastfeeding babies …

  • The Wisconsin Chair Company

    Founded in 1888 by Frederick A. Dennett, the Wisconsin Chair Company (WCC) was perhaps the most important business in Ozaukee County at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. The company, …

  • Emelie Manthei’s Point Blanket Coat

    When the Great Depression hit Wausau in the 1930s, Emelie Manthei (now Emelie Borth) was a high school student from a working-class family. Her father lost his job before finding employment with the Works Progress …

  • Children in Door Country line up to visit the bookmobile

    Creating the Door County Bookmobile

    Door County Library Bookmobile service began in 1950 through a Wisconsin Free Library Commission experiment called the Door-Kewaunee Regional Library Demonstration. The Demonstration was developed to explore the possibilities of providing library service to remote areas of the state. …

  • More Home & Daily Life posts

Education

  • The Rescuers of the Tanner

    The Rescuers of the Tanner

    On September 10, 1875, six rescue boat volunteers were dispatched to aid the crew of the Tanner, a cargo ship foundering in Milwaukee Harbor after being struck by a powerful storm. All six of the rescue boat …

  • Map of Lake Geneva, WI, featuring Williams Bay.

    Williams Bay, WI

    Captain Israel Williams founded Williams Bay, Wisconsin, in 1835. Williams and his two sons originally traveled to Wisconsin from their Massachusetts home to look for good farmland. Williams Bay was later named in honor of …

  • An image of a nebula taken by the Yerkes Telescope

    Astronomy in the 1900s

    In the 1800s, astronomers valued telescope magnification to investigate planets and stars. In the 1900s, astronomers started to ask questions about the structure of our galaxy, the Milky Way, which lead to greater emphasis on …

  • black and white image of the Yerkes telescope and the half dome housing it

    Yerkes Telescope Construction and Use

    The construction of the 40-inch refracting telescope at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, was directed by George Hale, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, and funded by Charles Yerkes, a Chicago businessman. The telescope is made …

  • Children in Door Country line up to visit the bookmobile

    Creating the Door County Bookmobile

    Door County Library Bookmobile service began in 1950 through a Wisconsin Free Library Commission experiment called the Door-Kewaunee Regional Library Demonstration. The Demonstration was developed to explore the possibilities of providing library service to remote areas of the state. …

  • More Education posts

Government, Politics & Law

  • Slavery in Wisconsin

    It may come as a surprise to learn that during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries slavery existed in the region that would become the state of Wisconsin. Over this period, thousands of enslaved African …

  • The 1911 Workman’s Compensation Act and the Birth of an Industry

    Wisconsin passed the nation’s first constitutionally upheld worker’s compensation law in 1911. It is one of the great successes of Progressive-era social legislation and a triumph of the Wisconsin Idea.[1] Previously, American workers toiling in industrialized workplaces …

  • workplace safety poster

    Promoting Workplace Safety

    For an insurance company like Employers Mutual, it made sense to try to promote safety in the workplace. Reducing the number of industrial accidents would naturally lead to less money lost to claims. But Employers Mutual …

  • A black and white image of three people testing an audiometer, one man has headphones on his ears while a woman looks on and another man is testing a read-out from the machine.

    Preventing Hearing Loss

    In 1953, Wisconsin added occupational hearing loss to the list of claimable conditions under workers compensation. Employers Mutual of Wausau quickly created a program that would make the company an industry leader in hearing loss prevention. Creating …

  • a black and white photo of poorly maintained migrant workers cabins from 1962

    Wisconsin’s Migrant Housing Laws

    Before World War II, most of the migrant workers in Wisconsin’s pickle fields were single young men, and pickle companies provided housing for workers in large dormitories. After World War II, however, farmers began to …

  • More Government, Politics & Law posts

Military and War

  • What is a Point Blanket Coat?

    The practice of converting Hudson’s Bay Company blankets into coats began years before the company began mass-manufacturing point blanket coats in the twentieth century. During the fur trade, Native Americans hunters traded beaver pelts for …

  • Picture of Old Abe, the eagle, on the Case company logo

    Old Abe’s Visual Legacy

    Old Abe began his career as a real, live eagle, serving as a mascot during the Civil War. In the decades that followed, the Grand Army of the Republic brought the bird on toursaround the country. In the many …

  • French map detail showing the Baye des Puans

    French Wisconsin at Fort la Baye

    French explorers, voyageurs (fur traders), Jesuit priests, and other settlers began arriving in the Upper Great Lakes region of North America in the mid-1600s. Jean Nicolet supposedly landed near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1634, naming the …

  • A hand-drawn map showing the Great Lakes used by french explorers

    French Cartography in the Great Lakes

    French mariners and explorers using the Le Maire Sundial Compass depended on both their own specialized navigational expertise and maps produced by French cartographers. Many such maps were created based on explorer accounts of the navigable waterways …

  • Dr. James T. Reeve

      He came to the new state of Wisconsin where he met his wife, Laura Spofford. After the Civil War began, he traveled to Madison to enlist in the Union army. He was appointed First …

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Religion and Philosophy

Science and Technology

  • A group photo showing a gathering of men behind an American and a Swiss flag

    The Swiss Roots of America’s “Dairyland”

    When the wheat crop failures of the late nineteenth century jeopardized the incomes of many of Wisconsin’s immigrant farmers, the region’s Swiss population transitioned to a trade that they knew from the Old World: dairying …

  • A disc cutting lathe from the 1930s

    The Record Production Process

    Paramount Record’s parent company, the United Phonographic Corporation, decided to begin recording and pressing records to include with their phonograph cabinets in the early 1920s. Paramount initially recorded in studios throughout the United States. They …

  • Paramount Records

    The Wisconsin Chair Company’s (WCC) decision to enter the record label industry was an economic one. With the United Phonographic Corporation (UPC) picking up steam, management at the WCC began pressing records. The UPC’s first …

  • an illustration of an infant reaching for a bottle of malted milk

    Malted Milk and Infant Nutrition

    Although known today mostly as a flavoring for milk shakes and chocolate-covered malt balls, malted milk made its first appearance in the 1880s as a substitute for human breast milk.  At that time, breastfeeding babies …

  • A technical illustration diagramming the parts of a mepps lure, highlighting the furry tail at one end of the lure.

    Squirrel Tails Wanted? The Improved Mepps Lure

    Driving through Antigo, visitors are often puzzled by a sign proclaiming “Squirrel Tails Wanted”. It identifies Sheldons’ Inc., manufacturer of Mepps lures. Squirrel tail hair has unique properties ideal for lures. [1] Its addition to the …

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Transportation

  • A black and white photo of the South Park, a whaleback ship

    Great Lakes Shipping and the SS Meteor

      The SS Meteor sailed the lakes longer than most ships of her day, and in her many reincarnations she offers a portrait of how some of the industries on the Great Lakes changed– and what those changes …

  • A map showing the twin ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI as well as the harbor and river between

    The American Steel Barge Company

    Duluth, MN and Superior, WI face each other across the Saint Louis Bay. In the mid-nineteenth century, as grain harvests of the northern plains expanded, logging grew, and as iron and copper mining developed in …

  • A color postcard showing a lighthouse and lifesaving station in wisconsin.

    Early Lifesaving Stations in Wisconsin

    A Slow Beginning As maritime commerce grew in the early 19th century, the loss of vessels and crews to shipwreck increased. In 1848, the federal government, through the United States Revenue Marine, established its first lifesaving …

  • An image of what is believed to be the Tanner before a grain elevator on the lake.

    The Wreck of the Tanner

    The Wrecked Vessel The Tanner was a barque, or three-masted ship whose foremast was square-rigged and whose main-and mizzenmasts were fore-and-aft rigged. She measured 156.38 feet long by 31.75 feet in breadth. She was built in 1863 by the Milwaukee …

  • The Rescuers of the Tanner

    The Rescuers of the Tanner

    On September 10, 1875, six rescue boat volunteers were dispatched to aid the crew of the Tanner, a cargo ship foundering in Milwaukee Harbor after being struck by a powerful storm. All six of the rescue boat …

  • More Transportation posts