For thousands of years, the area now known as Wisconsin had been inhabited by Native American tribes – the Menominee, the Potawatomi, the Chippewa, the Oneida, and the Ho Chunk (Winnebago), among others, resided in the area until the 1800s. The first Europeans to arrive in the region were French explorers searching for the Northwest Passage to China in 1634. They enabled France to lay claim to Wisconsin as part of its New World territories in 1672. Soon there was an influx of English and French fur traders and missionaries who came via Canada in search of greener pastures. Increasing British presence in Wisconsin eventually led to a conflict of interests with France, resulting in the French and Indian War. Britain won the war and gradually gained control over a large part of French territory. By the end of the American Revolution, Wisconsin had become part of the United States. It was officially admitted to the Union as the 30th state in 1848 and remained a member of the Union during the Civil War. The state sent over 90,000 soldiers to fight for the North, although no major battles were fought on its territory. Before the Civil War put an end to slavery, Wisconsin had been an important stop on the Underground Railroad, with numerous slaves passing through on their quest to freedom in Canada. The state had a flourishing economy and attracted large numbers of settlers looking for work in its lumber, mining and dairy industries. In the 21st century, Wisconsin leads the nation in dairy production and is famous for manufacturing top quality cheddar cheese; so much so that Wisconsin residents sometimes call themselves “cheeseheads.” The state has produced its fair share of celebrities including magician Harry Houdini, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, painter Georgia O’Keeffe, US Army general Douglas MacArthur, actor Spencer Tracy, authors Thornton Wilder and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and newscaster Tom Snyder.
|Abbreviation||WI Source: United States Postal Service – Abbreviations|
|Population||5,686,986 Source: Resident Population Data – 2010 Census|
|Governor||Scott Walker (Republican, to January 2015)|
|Entered the Union||May 29, 1848 as the 30th state|
|Nickname||The Badger State|
|Professional Sports Teams||Milwaukee Brewers (Baseball); Milwaukee Bucks (Basketball); Green Bay Packers (Football) (sports listing policy)|
|Origin of Name||From a Native American word for the principal river of the region, which French explorers spelled Miscous, Miskonsing, Mesconsin, and then finally Ouisconsin. It means “gathering of the waters.”|
|Historical Sites||The Circus World Museum at Baraboo|
|Points of Interest||The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; Ice Age National Scientific Reserve; the Wolf, St. Croix, and Lower St. Croix national scenic riverways; and the Wisconsin Dells|
|Bordering States||Wisconsin borders Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan.|
Follow these links to read articles about Wisconsin from Encyclopedias and Almanacs:
Official State Links
- Wisconsin.gov: The State Of Wisconsin http://www.wisconsin.gov/ This is the official website for the State of Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction https://dpi.wi.gov/dlt Here is the homepage for the Wisconsin State Library Agency.
- Wisconsin Historical Society http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/ Here is the homepage for the Wisconsin State Historical Society.
- The Wisconsin Historical Museum http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/museum/ Here is the homepage for the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum.
- The Library-Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS15325 Here is the homepage for the Wisconsin State Archives.
- Wisconsin State Park System: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Parks Here is the homepage for Wisconsin State Parks.
- Travel Wisconsin.com http://www.travelwisconsin.com/ Here is the official state tourism website for Wisconsin.
- State of Wisconsin Kids Page https://www.wisconsin.gov/Pages/WisconsinforKids.aspx Here is the Wisconsin state website for kids.
Other State Links
- 50states.com: Wisconsin http://www.50states.com/wisconsi.htm The site provides a wealth of information about Wisconsin. It includes everything from the highest point to county profile to climate.
- Roadside America: Wisconsin Attractions https://www.roadsideamerica.com/location/wi Roadside America describes itself as an online guide to offbeat attractions. This site offers reviews of “weird sites along the highway” in Wisconsin.
- Circus World Museum: America’s Circus Museum https://www.circusworldbaraboo.org/ This is the website for the historical circus museum, a National Historic landmark located in Baraboo, Wisconsin and built at the site of the original Ringling Bros. Circus winter quarters.
Did You Know
- Along with the better known state symbols, Wisconsin also has official wild and domestic animals: White-tailed deer and Dairy cow; official beverage: milk; and an official dog: the American water spaniel.
- Wisconsin ranks number one in # of milk cows (1,500,000) and produces over 15% of the entire country’s milk.
- Wisconsin has over 14,000 lakes, with Lake Winnebago the largest. It also has 7,446 streams and rivers, which if you stuck them end to end they’d stretch nearly 27,000 miles–enough to circle the whole planet.
- Milwaukee’s Summerfest is the nation’s largest music festival, with over 2,500 performers.
- Wisconsin is known as the Badger State after the living habits of early miners in the region who either lived in mine shafts or dug their homes out of the sides of hills–just like Badgers do.
Some Famous People from this State
- Harry Houdini, famous magician and escape artist.
- Douglas MacArthur, well-known WWII and Korean war general.
- Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect.
- Wiliam H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
- U.S. Don Ameche, actor who won an Academy Award for his performance in Cocoon.