Wisconsin Historical Museum

Wisconsin Historical Museum Collecting, Preserving and Sharing Stories Since 1846. Exhibits at the Wisconsin Historical Museum are now closed to prepare for the new history center.
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But you can still shop with us in store or online! Shop NOW: https://wihist.org/3iawNop

Do you like history? Do you enjoy working with kids? National History Day in Wisconsin is gearing up for a fantastic con...
01/04/2024

Do you like history? Do you enjoy working with kids? National History Day in Wisconsin is gearing up for a fantastic contest season, but we can’t do it without your help! We are looking for judges with diverse professional experiences, different background knowledge, and a passion for history to give students the best feedback.

Each year through National History Day, thousands of middle and high school students present their work at contests. Students select and research a topic connected to a yearly theme. They then create an exhibit, documentary, research paper, website, or performance.

Judges view between five and eight projects. An evaluation form is provided prompting judges to look for balanced research, context, and an argument. The excitement and energy of these young history lovers reaffirms our own passion for the past. Contact us to learn more! https://wihist.org/2L5H3d7

Happy New Year's Day! We all wish you a happy start to 2024! But the new year isn't all we're celebrating today. Did you...
01/01/2024

Happy New Year's Day! We all wish you a happy start to 2024!

But the new year isn't all we're celebrating today. Did you know that January 1st also marks the formation of the Wisconsin Territory in 1836?

Happy 188th birthday to the Wisconsin Territory and Happy New Year!

📸: A Happy New Year Postcard, 1914: WHI ID # 148797

Description: New Years postcard with a drawing of a home with trees, in the snow, near a stream. Text reads: "A Happy New Year. All good Wishes for a bright and happy New Year." Grey background and black letterpress with gold text.

Happy New Year's Eve! On December 31st, 1961, the Green Bay Packers hosted the NFL Championship game at City Stadium (re...
12/31/2023

Happy New Year's Eve!

On December 31st, 1961, the Green Bay Packers hosted the NFL Championship game at City Stadium (renamed Lambeau Field four years later). In the days leading up to the game the field was covered with a tarp and a foot of hay to keep the grass dry and green under 14 inches of snow. The Packers beat the New York Giants 37–0.
This photo shows workers removing the hay before dawn.

📸: Green Bay City Stadium Field before NFL Championship Game: WHI # 6661

In Ojibwe culture, winter is a time for storytelling and we are celebrating the season with the return of the popular Oj...
12/28/2023

In Ojibwe culture, winter is a time for storytelling and we are celebrating the season with the return of the popular Ojibwe Storytelling Series.

Tune in virtually each Tuesday evening from January 9-30 to hear from Ojibwe storytellers from the Lac Courte Oreilles, Sokaogon, Lac du Flambeau and Bad River Tribes.

This is the third year the Wisconsin Historical Society is hosting this series, which has brought in listeners from across the state, country and globe to listen to and learn from Ojibwe narrators. Register now to save your spot: https://wihist.org/47bemDc

Happy Boxing Day! Traditionally, December 26th is a day in which English householders give presents to those who have se...
12/26/2023

Happy Boxing Day!

Traditionally, December 26th is a day in which English householders give presents to those who have served them, or to people in need.

Now, ironically, Boxing Day is known by people in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as a shopping day with big sales comparable to American Black Friday.

In many other European countries, December 26th is a religious holiday called Saint Stephen's Day. In Ireland in particular, Saint Stephen's Day is celebrated by dressing up, going door to door, or going out to see mummers or a pantomime.

How do you celebrate December 26th?

📸: Post-Christmas Shoppers Return Gifts to Downtown Madison Stores, 1960: WHI ID # 143595

Merry Christmas Eve! Did you know that December 24th is also National Eggnog Day? The historical origins of eggnog are s...
12/24/2023

Merry Christmas Eve! Did you know that December 24th is also National Eggnog Day?

The historical origins of eggnog are somewhat unknown and debated between scholars. As far back as 1693, "nog" referred to a strong beer made in England, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Posset, popular in early Medieval Britain, was a curdled milk beverage with wine, ale, and spices that also may have been a precursor to modern day eggnog.

However, the word "eggnog" did not appear until 1775, when Americans began mentioning it in poems and articles as a mixture of wine, spirits, eggs, and sugar, though this time milk was not mentioned as an ingredient.

George Washington is recorded as serving an "eggnog-like" drink to his guests, which included rye whiskey, rum, and sherry. This was also around the time that the drink began to be associated with the holidays.

Nowadays, you generally see eggnog appearing on the shelves in November and on through the holidays. We have eggnog lattes, vegan eggnog, eggnog ice cream, and even eggnog candy corn! (Not to editorialize, but, gross.)

Are you a fan of eggnog or an eggnog hater?

📸:PBS: What is the History of Eggnog?: https://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-eggnog/

Today is the Winter Solstice! Despite the fact that Wisconsin weather doesn't adhere to any calendar, today is (technica...
12/21/2023

Today is the Winter Solstice!

Despite the fact that Wisconsin weather doesn't adhere to any calendar, today is (technically) the first day of winter. It's a great time to bundle up and stay at home, or go out for a trek in the Wisconsin wilderness.

If winter isn't your thing, keep in mind that today is the shortest day of the year--there's only more sunlight to come!

📷: Wisconsin State Capitol during Winter, c. 1900: WHI ID # 31904

On this day in 1813, Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin's first governor, was born. Nelson Dewey was a lawyer and land speculator b...
12/19/2023

On this day in 1813, Nelson Dewey, Wisconsin's first governor, was born.

Nelson Dewey was a lawyer and land speculator before his political career began. He graduated from Hamilton Academy, N.Y., and studied law in Louisville and Cooperstown law offices. In 1836, he came to Cassville and served as clerk for a New York firm of speculators promoting Cassville as the territorial capital.

He was elected Grant County registrar of deeds in 1837, appointed district attorney in 1838 and served in both the territorial assembly from 1838 to 1842 and council from 1842 to 1846.

Defeated for reelection by the rise of the Whigs, he turned to law and speculation. He gained considerable lead-mining property. Admitted to the Grant County bar in 1838, he later practiced law in partnership with J. Allen Barber at Lancaster from 1840 to 1848.

The Democratic convention of 1848, deadlocked between eastern and lead-region factions, chose Dewey as its compromise candidate for Wisconsin governor. He defeated the Whig candidate, John H. Tweedy and served as governor until January 5, 1852, with his administration devoted to setting the machinery of government in motion.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/3TmwCXe

📸: Nelson Dewey Portrait: WHI ID # 55243

Tomorrow in Pleasant Prairie, join author Joe Kapler as he discusses Wisconsin's Evergleam Christmas Tree!Discover how W...
12/12/2023

Tomorrow in Pleasant Prairie, join author Joe Kapler as he discusses Wisconsin's Evergleam Christmas Tree!

Discover how Wisconsin-made Christmas decorations became Space Age pop culture icons in 1960s America, and how they now serve as a window into both innovative mid-century design and nostalgic family holiday traditions. Joe Kapler will detail the story of the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc, who introduced the “Evergleam” aluminum Christmas tree in 1959. In the decade that followed, aluminum trees became wildly popular in American homes, and the Evergleam was the most popular brand of all.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/4acM6TB

This Tuesday, December 5th, join us in Poynette for Costume Designers and The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Rese...
12/02/2023

This Tuesday, December 5th, join us in Poynette for Costume Designers and The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research!

Join Mary Huelsbeck as she discusses the collections of three distinctive costume designers - Edith Head, Dorothy Jeakins and David Ffolkes.

The Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research holds the collections of three distinctive costume designers - Edith Head, Dorothy Jeakins, and David Ffolkes. Join Assistant Director for the WCFTR Mary Huelsbeck and find out what made each special and how their collections found their way to Madison, Wisconsin.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/3MDq16k

📸: Edith Head Costume Designs
1- Black dress, fitted at the waist, designed by Edith Head for "Vertigo" (Paramount 1958). WHI ID # 42681
2- Western ensemble of jeans, shirt, boots, and cowboy hat designed by Edith Head for Paul Newman in the film "Hud" (Paramount, 1963). WHI ID # 42680
3- Six sketches in pencil, ink, and watercolor for a skirt, blouse, and apron designed by Edith Head for Audrey Hepburn in the film "Sabrina" (Paramount, 1954). Two fabric samples are attached: a navy, red, green and white cotton print and a blue chambray. "Rubber apron" is noted in pencil. WHI ID # 42688

Think Big, Shop Small! Today is  !Check out the Wisconsin Historical Museum gift shop in person or online to help suppor...
11/25/2023

Think Big, Shop Small! Today is !

Check out the Wisconsin Historical Museum gift shop in person or online to help support history in your community: https://shop.wisconsinhistory.org/

November 25th is Kids in a Victorian Kitchen at Villa Louis! This is a hands-on cooking workshop for children age 8-12. ...
11/18/2023

November 25th is Kids in a Victorian Kitchen at Villa Louis!

This is a hands-on cooking workshop for children age 8-12. Participants will experience life in an 1890’s kitchen by making cookies and hot chocolate while using the utensils, recipes, and the technology of the time.

Beyond cooking, the students in the workshop will do a craft and receive a tour of Villa Louis. This immersive experience helps children visualize and experience the past, giving them a greater understanding and appreciation of the modern technologies of the present.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/3QRtpgA

📸: Dinner at Villa Louis: WHI ID # 117974

It's Veterans Day! Today, we honor all those who have served our country in war or in peace. People of Wisconsin have lo...
11/11/2023

It's Veterans Day!

Today, we honor all those who have served our country in war or in peace.

People of Wisconsin have long made their mark on military history, whether it was by leading the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment during the Civil War as Hans Christian Heg did, or saving over 40 people from a German artillery shell explosion in World War II, as Ellen Ainsworth did. They continue to make their indelible mark to this day.

To learn more about Wisconsin veterans, check out the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum https://wisvetsmuseum.com/

📷: Drums on Parade: WHI ID # 114240

Calling all history makers! We can’t wait to see you at the newly-opened History Maker Space on Capitol Square, where we...
10/13/2023

Calling all history makers! We can’t wait to see you at the newly-opened History Maker Space on Capitol Square, where we’ll be serving school kids and history lovers during the construction of the new history center. Plan your visit to see our temporary home for field trips, pop-up exhibits, author talks, public programs, history center sneak peeks and a fresh new retail shop featuring products from Wisconsin makers and artisans.

The History Maker Space also serves as a hub for our statewide Wisconsin History Makers Tour that is traveling the state, region by region, until February 2027. The statewide tour was made possible by generous support from Culver's and a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Plan your visit to the History Maker Space: https://wihist.org/45we5tP

See when the History Makers Tour will be in your area: https://wihist.org/3tscckG

📸: October 11, 2023

On this day in 1943, Steve Miller was born in Milwaukee. Steve Miller is best known, of course, for founding the Steve M...
10/05/2023

On this day in 1943, Steve Miller was born in Milwaukee.

Steve Miller is best known, of course, for founding the Steve Miller Band in 1966.

His parents imparted a love of music, especially jazz, at a young age. They were good friends with Les Paul, who became Steve's godfather.

His family moved to Texas in 1950, but Miller returned to Wisconsin in 1962, where he attended UW-Madison and formed The Ardells.

Four years later, the Steve Miller Band was founded in San Francisco. In 2016, Miller was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

📸: Steve Miller: WHI ID # 134745

This weekend at Old World Wisconsin, it's time for Halloween Legends and Lore! Troves of supernatural tales brought to W...
10/04/2023

This weekend at Old World Wisconsin, it's time for Halloween Legends and Lore!

Troves of supernatural tales brought to Wisconsin come to life at this always spooky, sometimes scary, Halloween event for the whole family. Tonight, the veil is thin between this world and the next. Whose footsteps do you hear in the crisp fall eve?

Explore the historic Crossroads Village after nightfall for a spirited, one-of-a-kind adventure that includes storytelling, games, performances and spooky fun. Discover supernatural stories from the many cultures of immigrants that came to Wisconsin. It’s an evening packed with chills, thrills and things that go bump in the night. Drinks and sweet treats, hot food, live music and a visit to the museum store complete your supernatural experience.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/48BUpaE

This month, stop by Beaver Dam for Great Lakes, Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin. Explore this water-themed tra...
10/03/2023

This month, stop by Beaver Dam for Great Lakes, Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin.

Explore this water-themed traveling display that showcases Wisconsin's long relationship with water and the impact we have had on our waterways.

It is impossible to fully understand Wisconsin - its history, culture and prospects for the future - without an appreciation of water's power to create opportunities, influence decisions and shape the events that become our shared story. To experience and fully appreciate life in Wisconsin today, and to make decisions that will chart the course of our future, it is essential for Wisconsin residents and students to understand the historical role water played to shape our land, economy, culture and spirit.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/45no5pm

📸: Return to Yahara Park Place on Lake Monona: WHI ID # 129307

On this day in 1861, the first Wisconsin Central Railroad Train ran for the first time. Although no railroads were const...
10/03/2023

On this day in 1861, the first Wisconsin Central Railroad Train ran for the first time.

Although no railroads were constructed or operated in Wisconsin until after it became it a state, territorial officials and businessmen discussed them frequently.

Michigan's legislative council wanted to connect the lead mines in southwestern Wisconsin with ships on Lake Michigan. The council petitioned Congress to make a rail line from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan. Communities along the Mississippi competed to be the western terminus of the railroad. Milwaukee competed with Sheboygan, Green Bay, Racine, Southport and even Chicago to house the end of the railroad for Lake Michigan.

To learn more about railroads in Wisconsin, click here: https://wihist.org/3LMiUIu

📸: Wisconsin Central Railway locomotive No. 207 and train No. 6 and the depot. The locomotive was built by the Brooks Locomotive Works in 1890, and scrapped in 1916. The engineer was George W. Martin, father of railroad historian Roy L. Martin, from whose collection this image originates.: WHI ID # 24318

On this day in 1860, author Hamlin Garland was born in West Salem, Wisconsin. He's best known for his novels detailing t...
09/14/2023

On this day in 1860, author Hamlin Garland was born in West Salem, Wisconsin.

He's best known for his novels detailing the lives of hardworking Midwestern farmers. In his writing, much of which was autobiographical, he recorded the physical oppression and economic frustrations of pioneer life on the Great Plains.

A Son of the Middle Border, one of his most popular books, was a record of his family and childhood as the son of pioneer farmers.

Its sequel, A Daughter of the Middle Border, went on to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1921.

📷: Hamlin Garland: WHI ID # 2403

On this day in 1813, Wisconsin's third Governor and second Secretary of State, William A Barstow, was born. Barstow was ...
09/13/2023

On this day in 1813, Wisconsin's third Governor and second Secretary of State, William A Barstow, was born.

Barstow was born in Plainfield, Connecticut. His family fled during the Panic of 1837 (a financial crisis that greatly affected the family's general store business) and came to the Territory of Wisconsin. They settled in Waukesha, which was then known as Prairie Village. In 1847, Barstow was instrumental in the creation of Waukesha county.

His time as both Secretary of State and Governor were haunted by scandals--the corruption of federal land grants, improper influence of state-backed loans, and even a disputed election were some of his most memorable claims to infamy.

During the Civil War, Barstow served as Colonel with the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment for the Union Army.

📸: Governor Willaim A Barstow: WHI ID # 117529

This Thursday, join the Wisconsin Historical Society's Northern Outreach Coordinator, Liz Arbuckle, for a presentation e...
09/13/2023

This Thursday, join the Wisconsin Historical Society's Northern Outreach Coordinator, Liz Arbuckle, for a presentation examining the culture and history of the Ojibwe in Wisconsin.

This event will take place at 6PM at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.

Click here for more information: https://wihist.org/3RifAbq

📸: Ojibwe Woman Holding a Baby in a Tikinagan: WHI ID # 73317

On this 22nd anniversary of September 11, 2001 we remember the thousands of people who lost their lives and the thousand...
09/11/2023

On this 22nd anniversary of September 11, 2001 we remember the thousands of people who lost their lives and the thousands of others who were injured in the largest terrorist attack on American soil.

This cross was given to donor Donna J. Schuh (b. 1957), Wausau, Wis., by a nurse she met while she worked at the Ground Zero site in New York City as a mental health therapist from Dec. 19, 2001 to Jan. 1, 2002. The nurse, Julie, sent her an email that she would be sending a cross made from the Ground Zero ruins by a welder, who did not remember which building it came from. Donna had the plaque added and cross framed by Wausau Art & Framing.

Donna was a psychology professor at Northcentral Technical College in Wausau when she volunteered to be a social worker through Salvation Army at Ground Zero. Once she arrived the The Salvation Army USA assigned her to the night shift at the feeding tent, which was slightly away from Ground Zero, for three days, before sending her to the break tent located "on the pile." Besides providing food and drink, Donna listened to people share their stories and helped them with emotional issues.

📸: Cross, metal, cut from Ground Zero rubble, framed, 2001-2002
Wisconsin Historical Museum object 2014.165.3

This Tuesday in Portage, explore French-Canadian Architecture and Heritage in Wisconsin with Mary Elise Antoine!Creative...
09/10/2023

This Tuesday in Portage, explore French-Canadian Architecture and Heritage in Wisconsin with Mary Elise Antoine!

Creative arts are powerful tools of expression within cultures, offering insights into the hearts and minds of people groups. Unique styles of music, fine and decorative arts, storytelling, and dance flowed into the Fox-Wisconsin portage in 1832. Join Mary Elise Antoine and investigate the creative arts and regional French architecture as a cultural expression.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/47XZwlb

📸: Peter Lagacy Family: WHI ID # 2216

Today in Lake Geneva, it's the Pioneer Cemetery Walking Tour! Explore Lake Geneva's oldest property, the Pioneer Cemeter...
09/09/2023

Today in Lake Geneva, it's the Pioneer Cemetery Walking Tour!

Explore Lake Geneva's oldest property, the Pioneer Cemetery, in this fascinating fall walking tour. Follow the soothing sounds of a strolling musician as you walk by the final resting places of some of the city's most interesting former residents as historic interpreters bring their stories to life. Pack a blanket and enjoy a picnic near this often-overlooked historic cemetery.

Click here to learn more: https://wihist.org/47X7cnL

On this day in 1860,  the steamship Lady Elgin was lost on Lake Michigan, becoming one of the lake's most tragic maritim...
09/08/2023

On this day in 1860, the steamship Lady Elgin was lost on Lake Michigan, becoming one of the lake's most tragic maritime disasters.

The ship had been chartered by Milwaukee's Irish Union Guards who had been in Chicago attending a fund raiser in order to purchase weapons to arm their unit. Their ship was struck by an unlit lumber schooner and sank. At least 300 lives were lost, many from Milwaukee's Irish Third Ward community.

📷: The Sinking of the Lady Elgin: A page from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper with two sketches and a narrative of the sinking of the sidewheeler passenger, Lady Elgin, in 1860. Three hundred passengers lost their lives. One sketch is of two passengers clinging to the pilothouse, the other of a passenger clinging to a cabin door. WHI ID # 6079

On this day in 1908, the Man Mound Park in Sauk County was dedicated. The Mound depicts a gigantic human figure, 204 fee...
09/07/2023

On this day in 1908, the Man Mound Park in Sauk County was dedicated.

The Mound depicts a gigantic human figure, 204 feet in length, in the act of walking. This kind of mound is unusual in that it differs from the three main kinds of mounds that archaeologists have discovered: conical (used mostly for family burials), platform (usually made for important homes or ceremonies), and effigy (in the form of animals, generally thought to represent clans and lineages.)

Sadly, the legs of the Man Mound were partially destroyed during road construction in the early part of the last century. Man Mound is one of the few surviving effigy mounds in the area. At least 900 mounds existed in Sauk County at one time. Over 75% of those mounds have been plowed, eliminated by floods or destroyed by looters and construction.

Efforts by William H. Canfield and Dr. Increase Lapham led to the preservation and appreciation of many Native American lands, especially effigy mounds such as Man Mound.

📷: Man Mound: Smithsonian Magazine: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.../get-to-know-man-mound.../
Additional info from: https://www.co.sauk.wi.us/parksandrecreation/man-mound-park

Did you know that September is National Happy Cat Month? To celebrate, here are just a few of our favorite cat photos fr...
09/06/2023

Did you know that September is National Happy Cat Month?

To celebrate, here are just a few of our favorite cat photos from our archives, spanning over a hundred years of Wisconsinites being obsessed with their cats. 🐱

📸: Portrait of a Cat, 1935: WHI ID # 69202
📸: Lady Rowing on Lake Mendota with Cat, 1895: WHI ID # 103115
📸: Cat in Assembly Chambers, 1961: WHI ID # 114065

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30 N Carroll Street
Madison, WI
53703

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Wednesday 11am - 5pm
Thursday 11am - 5pm
Friday 11am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm

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(608) 264-6555

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The Wisconsin Historical Museum is located on Madison's Capitol Square and is full of wonderful information about the state's rich history. Explore Wisconsin's distinctive heritage and a variety of other American history topics through artifacts, photographs, full-scale dioramas, audio-visual presentations, and interactive multimedia programs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFlerCNiUYI

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