Immigrants to Wisconsin – Wisconsin Social History – Reform Movement of the 1800s


Immigrants to Wisconsin, women’s suffrage in the US, German Americans, life on the frontier, free online books, Polish immigrants in the US, Swiss immigrants to America, early settlers, Czechs, Norwegians, Swedish, Belgians, Dutch, Cornish, Greeks, Italians.

Find the Directory for 90+ pages in this collection at History of the Great Lakes States.

 

Turning Points in Wisconsin History: 19th Century Immigration

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

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.

“The Czechs in Wisconsin History”

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

Bicha, Karel D.
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

 

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

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

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

Please see our 10 webpages of American History Books with hundreds of free online books.

Centennial Records of the Women of Wisconsin

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

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.

“Danish Settlement in Wisconsin”

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

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

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.

Stagecoach and Tavern Tales of the Old Northwest

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

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.

Contents: -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

“The Cornish in Southwest Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 1898, 301- 334

Copeland, Louis Albert
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

 

“Memoirs of a Pioneer County Editor”

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

Cover, Joseph Carman
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

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.

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

Davidson, John Nelson
Madison 1893

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

Collected Newspapers and journals in historic Wisconsin

How Wisconsin Came by its Large German Element

Everest, Kate Asaphine
Madison: State Historical Society 1892

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.

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

Flom, George T., PhD
Iowa City: Flom 1909

This includes many early Norwegian communities in Wisconsin.

New Upsala, the First Swedish Settlement in Wisconsin

Forsbeck, Filip A.
Milwaukee: 1936

 

My Land My Home My Wisconsin: The Epic Story of the Wisconsin Farm and Farm Family from Settlement Days to the Present

Gard, Maryo and Gard, Robert
Milwaukee Journal 1978

An account of the experiences of European families who decide to leave their homes and make new lives as settlers and farmers in Wisconsin. Photos included.

“The Movement of American Settlers into Wisconsin and Minnesota”

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

Goodwin, Cardinal
Iowa City: State Historical Society of Iowa

 

Books and articles on The History of Wisconsin

Negro Suffrage in Wisconsin

Gregory, John Goadby
Milwaukee: Transactions 1895

 

Wisconsin’s Belgian Community

an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Holand, Hjalmar Rued
Door County Historical Society, 1933

 

Machine Shed Memories: A Chronicle Of Rural Life In Wisconsin

Janssen, Leon P. and Medford, Gene
Meadow Brook Farm 2014

The story of a farming community in northeastern Wisconsin, profiling a number of farm families over several generations.

Motherhood on the Wisconsin Frontier

Krueger, Lillian
Madison: State Historical Society 1951

 

“The Taverns and Stages of early Wisconsin”

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

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

 

The Italians in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: General Survey

Prepared under the direction of the associated charities

La Plana, G.
Milwaukee: 1915

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.

The Walloons in Wisconsin: They Left Belgium 150 Years Ago …

Lempereur, Francoise and Istasse, Xavier
2012

“This books is a tribute to the Walloon people who left Belgium 150 years ago to settle in Wisconsin, more than 3100 miles away, Walloon people who kept there not only their ancestors’ language, songs, tales, recipes and way of life but also their well-known kindness and joie de vivre. It is also a tool to link the Homeland and the Diaspora and for anyone, to learn how these farmers were able to cross the Ocean, to build log cabins in the wilderness, to establish friendly contacts with the Indians, to obtain civil rights, to play, to sing, to dance, to eat, to practice their religion, etc. It is at last a thought to the matter of this heritage safeguard and transmission through written and audiovisual means.” – Book cover

“Geographical Origin of German Immigration to Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 1898, 341-393

Levi, Kate Everest, PhD
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

 

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

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

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

 

Books and articles on education, the arts, journalism, recreation and architecture are in Wisconsin Cultural History

The Planting of the Swiss Colony at New Glarus, Wisconsin

Luchsinger, John
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1892

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.

“The Belgians of Northeast Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 13, 1895, 375-396

Martin, Xavier
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

 

“Cooperative Communities in Wisconsin”

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

McIntosh, Montgomery Eduard
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

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.

“The Dutch Settlements of Sheboygan County”

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

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

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.

The Flemish In Wisconsin

Rentmeester, Jeanne and Les
Howard-Suamico Historical Society 2010

Initially a study of the many Flemish immigrants to settle in the Green Bay area in the mid-19th century, the scope of the study widened to cover the story of Flemish immigration to the state.

Contents: Introduction – Flanders – From Flanders to Wisconsin – Life in the new world – The Flemish settlements – The Civil War period – The post war period – Toward the end of the century – The last phase of the migration – The religion of the Flemish-Americans – Flemish-American cooking – Some Flemish stories – Early Flemish families

“The Greeks of Milwaukee

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

Salutos, Theodore
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

 

“The Icelanders on Washington Island”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 1898, 335-340

White, Harry K.
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

 

Please visit our collection of 2,000+ selected online magazine and newspaper articles on 40 subjects, plus online map & vintage photo collections, at Century Past History Resources

Testimony of Working Women, 1914

Wisconsin Legislature. Committee on White Slave Traffic and Kindred Subjects
Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

“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

Woman’s State Centennial Executive Committee
Madison: Atwood and Culver 1876

This consists of reports from philanthropic organizations around the state.

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

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society

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

Illinois Social History

Indiana Social History

Michigan Social History

Ohio Social History

 

 

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