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Wisconsin is an American state in the upper Midwest; its area is 65,498 square miles (169,639 km²) and its estimated population is 5,627,967 (2008). Since its admission to the Union on May 29, 1848 as 30th state, Wisconsin has been ethnically heterogeneous, with Yankees being among the first to arrive from New York and New England. They dominated the state's heavy industry, finance, politics and education. Large numbers of European immigrants followed them, including Germans, mostly between 1850 and 1900, Scandinavians (the largest group being Norwegian) and smaller groups of Belgians, Dutch, Swiss, Finns, Irish and others; in the 20th century, large numbers of Poles and African Americans came, settling mainly in Milwaukee.

The capital of Wisconsin is Madison.


In history, the state of Wisconsin was on the forefront of the Progressive Movement, and produced legendary Progressive figures such as Robert M. La Follette.

The governor is the chief executive of the state, and currently the post is held by Scott Walker, a Republican. The legislative branch is bicameral and is divided into the State Senate and the State Assembly. Nationally, Herb Kohl and Ron Johnson represent the state in the U.S. Senate.


The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the top public research universities in the United States. Charles Van Hise, once the president of the university, formulated the philosophy referred to as the "Wisconsin Idea", which is that the benefit of education from the university should have a positive impact on everyone in the state.[1]

The state ranks the 8th among the 50 states in the United States in educational quality in 2006-2007, according to the "Smartest State" rankings compiled by the Morgan Quitno Press.[2]



  • Campbell, Henry C. Wisconsin in Three Centuries, 1684-1905 (4 vols., 1906), highly detailed popular history
  • James K. Conant. Wisconsin Politics And Government: America's Laboratory of Democracy (2006)
  • Richard Current, Wisconsin: A History (2001)
  • Larry Gara; A Short History of Wisconsin 1962
  • Holmes, Fred L. Wisconsin (5 vols., Chicago, 1946), detailed popular history with many biographies
  • Robert C. Nesbit, Wisconsin: A History (rev. ed. 1989)
  • Quaife, Milo M. Wisconsin, Its History and Its People, 1634-1924 (4 vols., 1924), detailed popular history & biographies
  • Raney, William Francis. Wisconsin: A Story of Progress (1940),
  • A. H. Robinson and J. B. Culver, ed., The Atlas of Wisconsin (1974)
  • I. Vogeler, Wisconsin: A Geography (1986);
  • WPA, Wisconsin: A Guide to the Badger State 1941; detailed guide to every town and city, and cultural history

Detailed scholarly studies

  • Anderson, Theodore A. A Century of Banking in Wisconsin (1954)
  • Braun, John A Together in Christ: A history of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (2000), 55 pp
  • Buenker, John D. The History of Wisconsin. Volume IV The Progressive Era, 1893-1914 (1998), highly detailed history
  • Brøndal, Jørn. Ethnic Leadership and Midwestern Politics: Scandinavian Americans and the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1914. University of Illinois Press, 2004 ISBN 0-87732-095-0.
  • Bungert, Heike, Cora Lee Kluge, and Robert Ostergren, eds. Wisconsin: German Land and Life. (Madison: Max Kade Institute, 2006. 260 pp. isbn 0-92411-926-8.)
  • Butts, Porter. Art in Wisconsin ( Madison, 1936).
  • Clark, James I. Education in Wisconsin (1958).
  • Cochran, Thomas C. The Pabst Brewing Company (1948), the best history of any brewery
  • Mike Corenthal. Illustrated History of Wisconsin Music 1840-1990: 150 Years (1991)
  • Richard Nelson Current. History of Wisconsin: The Civil War Era, 1848-1873 (1976) standard state history
  • Curti, Merle and Carstensen, Vernon. The University of Wisconsin: A History (2 vols., 1949)
  • Curti, Merle. The Making of an American Community A Case Study of Democracy in a Frontier County (1969), in-depth quantitative social history
  • Fries, Robert F. Empire in Pine: The Story of Lumbering in Wisconsin, 1830-1900 (1951).
  • Paul Geib; "From Mississippi to Milwaukee: A Case Study of the Southern Black Migration to Milwaukee, 1940-1970" The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 83, 1998
  • Glad, Paul W. The History of Wisconsin, Volume 5: War, a New Era and Depression, 1914-1940, standard state history
  • Haney, Richard C. A History of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin since World War II
  • Jensen, Richard. The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888-1896 (1971)
  • Lampard, Eric E. The Rise of the Dairy Industry in Wisconsin (1962).
  • McBride, Genevieve G. On Wisconsin Women: Working for Their Rights from Settlement to Suffrage
  • Herbert F. Margulies; The Decline of the Progressive Movement in Wisconsin, 1890-1920 (1968)
  • Merrill, Horace S. William Freeman Vilas: Doctrinaire Democrat (1954) Democratic leader in 1880s and 1890s
  • Olson, Frederick I. Milwaukee: At the Gathering of the Waters
  • A History of Agriculture in Wisconsin, by Schafer, Joseph (1922)
  • Schafer, Joseph. "The Yankee and Teuton in Wisconsin", Wisconsin Magazine of History, Vol. 6, No. 2, Dec. 1922, pp. 125-145, compares Yankee and German settlers
  • Still, Bayrd. Milwaukee, the History of a City 1948 online edition
  • Thelen, David. Robert M. LaFollette and the Insurgent Spirit 1976.
  • Unger, Nancy C. Fighting Bob LaFollette: The Righteous Reformer (2000)

Primary sources