Home » Great Lakes States Directory » Wisconsin Biographies

Wisconsin Famous People – Celebrities in Wisconsin – Free Biography

Wisconsin famous people, celebrities in Wisconsin, Milwaukee famous people. Free online Biographies & Memoirs. This webpage has free online books & articles covering the lives of well-known Wisconsin natives, including:

  • Wisconsin writers
  • Athletes
  • Celebrities
  • Musicians
  • Pioneers
  • Political Leaders
  • Military Leaders
  • Explorers
  • Environmentalists

Skip Down to Collective Biographies, with profiles of hundreds of Wisconsin people with local significance.

Wisconsin Biographies Collection – Wisconsin Famous People

About 30 books in the Internet Archive collection of free online books appeared in a search for “Wisconsin biography”. Some titles are: Wisconsin heroes, Wisconsin sports heroes, Famous Wisconsin authors, women of Wisconsin labor, Lucius Fairchild : Civil War hero, an American family during World War II, Cindy Bentley : spirit of a champion, The lumberjack frontier; the life of a logger in the early days on the Chippeway, Limping through life : a farm boy’s polio memoir, a political biography of Walter J. Kohler, Jr., The last river rat : Kenny Salwey’s life in the wild, Fighting Bob La Follette, Melvin Laird in war, peace, and politics, Reggie White : a celebration of life, 1961-2004, Renegade priest of the Northern Cheyenne : the life and work of Father Emmett Hoffmann, 1926-. Famous people from Milwaukee, famous people from Wisconsin.

‘Collections’ take longer to appear on your screen than single books.  On a phone, only about 25 books in a collection may appear.

To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian – Wisconsin Famous People

Ambrose, Stephen E.
Simon & Schuster 2003

In “To America,” Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the country’s most influential historians, reflects on his long career as an American historian and explains what an historian’s job is all about. He celebrates America’s spirit, which has carried us so far. He confronts its failures and struggles. As always in his much acclaimed work, Ambrose brings alive the men and women, famous and not, who have peopled our history and made the United States a model for the world.
Taking a few swings at today’s political correctness, as well as his own early biases, Ambrose grapples with the country’s historic sins of racism, its neglect and ill treatment of Native Americans, and its tragic errors (such as the war in Vietnam, which he ardently opposed on campus, where he was a professor). He reflects on some of the country’s early founders who were progressive thinkers while living a contradiction as slaveholders, great men such as Washington and Jefferson.
Most important, Ambrose writes about writing history. “The last five letters of the word ‘history’ tell us that it is an account of the past that is about people and what they did, which is what makes it the most fascinating of subjects.” Famous people from Wisconsin, life of Stephen Ambrose.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (1936-2002)

Life story of Rasmus B. Anderson – Wisconsin Famous People

Anderson, Rasmus B.
Madison: Anderson 1915

Rasmus Anderson, the American author, scholar, editor, businessman and diplomat, intertwines his life story with the cultural and institutional history of the Norwegian-American community as a whole. There are eyewitness accounts of tension within American factions and branches of the Lutheran church over such issues as slavery and public education as well as anecdotes about Ole Bull, Knut Hamsun, Björnstjerne Björnson, Robert La Follette, James G. Blaine and various European monarchs and heads of state. Anderson began his life on a farm in Albion, Dane County, Wisconsin. After many efforts to finance and obtain the kind of education he wanted, he pioneered the study and teaching of Scandinavian languages at the University of Wisconsin (1869-1883). Between 1885 and 1889, he served as U.S. minister to Denmark. He eventually prospered as president of the Wisconsin Life Insurance Co., from 1895-1922. In 1874, Anderson attracted widespread attention with his America Not Discovered By Columbus. He is remembered for his studies, translations, and retellings of Norse mythology. The more active and public aspects of his life are emphasized in this work.
– from the Library of Congress American Memory website. Wisconsin biographies, famous people from Wisconsin, bio of Rasmus Anderson.

Anderson, Rasmus (1846-1936)

“Personal Narrative of Capt. Thomas G. Anderson”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Volume 9, 1882, 136-206

Anderson, Thomas G.
Madison: Historical Society of Wisconsin

Thomas Gummersall Anderson was born and raised in Canada, where he worked as a store clerk as a young man. In 1800, at the age of 20, he headed for the wilderness of the Great Northwest. This 70-page memoir describes his life for the next 28 years. During the period until the War of 1812 he was an Indian trader in Wisconsin. During that war he raised a company of volunteers and captured Fort McKay at Prairie du Chien. See the article following this one in the same journal entitled “Capt. T. G. Anderson’s Journal, 1814” for a day-by-day memoir of events there. Wisconsin biographies.

Anderson, Thomas Gummersall (1779-1875)

Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions – Wisconsin Famous People

Gallenkamp, Charles
Viking 2001

“Led by the world-renowned explorer Roy Chapman Andrews and financed by J.P. Morgan, Jr., John D. Rockefeller Jr., Childs Frick, and a host of other Wall Street titans, the Central Asiatic Expeditions (1922-1930) comprised the most ambitious scientific venture ever launched from the United States. Under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History, Andrews conducted five expeditions to the last uncharted corner of the world: the Gobi Desert of Outer and Inner Mongolia. Using automobiles supported by camel caravans, Andrews’ expeditions stumbled upon unimagined scientific wonders: the Flaming Cliffs, dinosaur eggs, the first skeleton of Velociraptor (the terrifying killer of ‘Jurassic Park’ fame), and a fossil treasure trove of other dinosaurs and extinct mammals…. Gallenkamp tells Andrews’ incredible life story – from his beginnings as a floor sweeper at the American Museum of Natural History to his international fame as one of the century’s most acclaimed explorers.” – Publisher
Andrews grew up in Beloit, Wisconsin, where he acquired skills as an outdoorsman. After graduating from Beloit College he went to New York City to seek work at the Museum of National History. Famous explorers from Wisconsin, Famous people from Wisconsin, bio of Roy Chapman Andrews, life of Roy Chapman Andrews.

Andrews, Roy Chapman (1884-1960)

Mathilde Franziska Anneke

Richards-Wilson, Stephani
German American Business Biographies Website 2014

Mathilde Franziska Anneke was an entrepreneur, lecturer, educator, journalist, writer, and a newspaper editor. She was well educated and a free and independent thinker, interested in political and social reform on behalf of women in both the German lands and the United States. Famous women of Wisconsin, WI biographies.

Anneke, Mathilde Franziska (1817-1884)

“Reminiscences of Early Days on Mackinac Island” – Famous Women of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 17-64, 1898

Baird, Elizabeth T.
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Elizabeth Therese Fisher Baird was born at Prairie du Chien in 1810, the daughter of fur trader Henry Munro Fisher. She spent much of her youth on Mackinac Island, where she was married to Henry S. Baird at age 14 in 1824. She and her husband, a young lawyer, immediately departed for Green Bay, where she lived until her death in 1890.

Elizabeth Baird published a series of articles about her memories in the Green Bay State Gazette from 1886 to 1887. Those articles were reproduced in condensed and edited form in two articles in the Wisconsin Historical Collections. This is the first of that pair; the second is “Reminiscences of Life in Territorial Wisconsin”, found below on this webpage. A third article, “Indian Customs and Early Recollections” had been previously published in Wisconsin Historical Collections in 1882. That is also found below. Famous women of Wisconsin, Wisconsin pioneer women, life of Elizabeth Baird.

At the beginning of this article are portraits of Elizabeth Baird and her mother.

Baird, Elizabeth Therese (1810-1890)

“Reminiscences of Life in Territorial Wisconsin” – Wisconsin Famous People

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 15, 205-263, 1900

Baird, Elizabeth T.
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

This is the second part of a 2-part article. See the entry above on this web page for Part 1, “Reminiscences of Early Days on Mackinac Island”.

Baird, Elizabeth Therese (1810-1890)

“Indian Customs and Early Recollections”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 9, 303-326, 1882

Baird, Elizabeth T.
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

See the entry above on this web page for the article by Elizabeth Baird, “Reminiscences of Early Days on Mackinac Island” for information about the author.

This article has several parts. Pages 303-316 are entirely about various Indian customs. On page 316 begins a small section describing Mackinac Island when Baird visited and lived there as a girl until 1824, and on page 319 begins reminiscences of Green Bay when she arrived in 1824. The last part is a description of an Indian massacre at Prairie du Chien in 1830. Famous women of Wisconsin, Wisconsin pioneer women, WI Biographies.

Baird, Elizabeth Therese (1810-1890)

Native American: The Book of My Youth – Wisconsin Famous People

American Chronicle: The Autobiography of Ray Stannard Baker

Baker, Ray Stannard
Scribner’s Sons 1941, 1945

Ray Stannard Baker, whose pen name was David Grayson, was a leading journalist in the ‘Muckraking’ progressive movement in the early 20th century. He was later a friend of President Woodrow Wilson, and author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters”. He wrote two autobiographical works. “Native American” was about his youth, including his boyhood in rural St. Croix Falls, WI. “American Chronicle” covers his story from the beginning of his professional career. Famous authors of Wisconsin, famous people from Wisconsin, biography of Ray Stannard Baker.

Baker, Ray Stannard (1870-1946)

A Democracy of Its Own – Milwaukee’s Socialisms – Wisconsin Famous People

Benoit, Edward A. III
2009

A Master’s Thesis. A review of the academic literature dealing with socialism in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with biographies of three of the movement’s most important leaders: newspaper editor and Congressman Victor L. Berger, Mayor Emil Seidel, and Mayor Daniel Hoan. The author depicts the writings and the ideas of these three individuals as representative of “a wide array of personal ideologies within the Milwaukee Socialist movement from 1890 through World War I.” Famous people from Milwaukee.

Door Way: The People in the Landscape – Wisconsin Famous People

Blei, Norbert
Ellis 1981

Weaving a tapestry of lives and landscapes, past and present, earth and water, Norbert Blei celebrates the unique heritage of Door County, Wisconsin, a spectacular peninsula reaching into Lake Michigan. Blei ponders the balance of nature in a place where locals, tourists, and developers vie with the native flora and fauna of forests and lakeshore.
Norbert Blei grew up in Chicago, and decided in 1969 to move to Door County in northeastern Wisconsin, to live and write. This is a collection of writings about his life there and the people he came to know. Famous authors of Wisconsin, memoirs of Norbert Blei.

Blei, Norbert (1935-2013)

Once Around the Bloch – Wisconsin Famous People

Bloch, Robert
TOR 1995

Robert Bloch, grand master of horror, recounts his tales in this hilarious autobiography, ‘Once Around the Bloch’.
‘Once Around the Bloch’ takes the reader from Bloch’s early years in an up-and-coming Chicago suburb to his first fateful encounter with the cult fiction magazine Weird Tales. Bloch’s Hollywood adventures are also chronicled, including his encounters and friendships with such famous superstars as Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Buster Keaton, and Joan Crawford. Bloch also recounts the inspiration for and the birth of one of the most famous villains of all time, Norman Bates. Wisconsin biographies, famous authors of Wisconsin, memoir of Robert Bloch.

Bloch, Robert (1917-1994)

“Nicholas Boilvin, Indian Agent”

Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol 27, No. 2, Dec. 1943, 145-164

Scanlan, Peter Lawrence
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

The author describes the experiences of Nicolas Boilvin (1761-1827), born in Canada and an early resident of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, who worked as an Indian Agent from 1811-27 in the areas surrounding Prairie du Chien. Wisconsin biographies, Wisconsin pioneers.

Boilvin, Nicholas (1761-1827)

An English Settler in Pioneer Wisconsin; the Letters of Edwin Bottomley, 1842-50

Bottomley, Edwin. Quaife, Milo M. ed.
Madison: State Historical Society 1918

Edwin Bottomley was born in Lancaster, England; the son of a manager of a cotton mill. As a young man Edwin became a skilled pattern-maker in the mills, marrying in 1829 the orphan grand-daughter of a physician. In 1842, with five children, the couple decided to change the future for all of them and emigrate to America.

This book consists of the letters that Edwin wrote to his father from the time the family boarded for departure in 1842 until his untimely death in 1850 in Burlington, Racine county. The Wisconsin Historical Society chose to publish the collection of letters not because Bottomley became an important personage, but because he didn’t. He was very typical of early Wisconsin immigrants, except that a detailed written record of his experience was preserved. Wisconsin pioneers, WI biographies.

Bottomley, Edwin (1809-1850)

Memoirs of Mary D. Bradford; Autobiographical and Historical Reminiscences of Education in Wisconsin …

through progressive service from rural school teaching to city superintendent; illustrated with photographs

Bradford, Mary Davison
Evansville, WI: Antes 1932

Born in the farming community of Paris, Kenosha County, in 1856, Mary Davison Bradford was forced by her father’s ill health to begin teaching at the age of sixteen, before she had finished high school, and she continued to work actively as an educator until 1922. Bradford describes how she taught in small rural schools, in the expanding Kenosha system, and at centers of educational experimentation such as Central State Teachers College at Stevens Point and the Stout Training School at Menomonie. Eventually appointed Superintendent of Schools in Kenosha, Bradford instituted kindergarten, vocational training programs, breakfast programs for needy children, and politically independent procurement and hiring processes, and advocated courses in citizenship and health education. Bradford’s autobiography chronicles the development of Wisconsin’s public school system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Wisconsin had a strong commitment to primary, secondary, and higher public education in this era, and Bradford’s work reflects at the grassroots level many of the pedagogic reforms then sweeping the country.
– from the Library of Congress American Memory website. Important women of Wisconsin.

Bradford, Mary Davison (1856-1943)

Early days in the Chippewa Valley

Bundy, Charles Smith
Menomonie, WI: Flint-Douglas 1916

This is an autobiographical narrative about a young lawyer’s search for the best community in which to build a legal practice in the Upper Midwest in the late 1850s. Charles Smith Bundy’s experiences reveal how networks of friends, family, and associates from earlier places of residence assisted young men anxious to “get ahead” in mid-nineteenth-century America. Bundy first came to Wisconsin from Oxford, Chenango County, New York, in 1856. His initial contacts in Wisconsin were relatives and two businessmen from his home community, a social foundation from which he was soon able to develop political contacts. His account provides vivid descriptions of Reed’s Landing, Pepin, Eau Claire, Menomonie, and Chippewa Falls. American Memory Website, Library of Congress. Wisconsin biographies, Wisconsin pioneers.

Bundy, Charles Smith (1831-1928)

Girl in a Library: On Women Writers & the Writing Life – Famous Women from Wisconsin

Cherry, Kelly
BkMk Press 2009

Kelly Cherry, born (1946), taught English at University of Wisconsin-Madison for 22 years, before moving to Virginia. In 2010 she was named Poet Laureate of the state of Virginia. Her Wikipedia profile states that she has written 27 full-length works of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, in addition to a long career in teaching.
“Poet, memoirist, fiction writer, and critic Cherry has assembled a lissome and winning retrospective collection of essays on writing, reading, and life,” writes Donna Seaman in her starred Booklist review. “Piquant essays on family history and her coming-of-age are deepened by reflections on beauty, art, and vocation. In fresh and inquiring portraits of exceptional southern women writers–Eudora Welty, Elizabeth Hardwick, Mary Ward Brown, Bobbie Ann Mason–Cherry explores the nature of a literary life.” Library Journal writes, “Cherry explores the craft of writing, tracing her own development from rebellious college student to award-winning author of 19 books… Cherry’s story will prove inspirational to aspiring writers as will her critical essays.” Famous Wisconsin authors.

Cherry, Kelly (1946-)

Reminiscences of a Pioneer in the Rock River Country

Coe, Edwin Delos
Madison, State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1908

In this 13-page article the author recounts his early years not far from Watertown, from 1839 to 1848. Wisconsin pioneer women, WI biography.

Coe, Edwin Delos (1840-1909)

Myself: The Autobiography of John R. Commons – Wisconsin Famous People

Commons, John R.
Madison: University of Wisconsin 1963

John R. Commons was an American institutional economist, progressive, and labor historian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Among his contributions was the editing of a 10-volume Documentary History of American Industrial Society, which preserved many documents of the American labor movement. Famous people from Wisconsin, life of John Commons.

Commons, John Rogers (1862-1945)

John R. Commons: Pioneer of Labor Economics

Barbash, Jack
Friends of the Department of Labor

John R. Commons was a Professor of Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who had a leading role in the Progressive movement at the beginning of the 20th century, and “contributed in one way or another to practically every piece of social and labor legislation that has been enacted in the 20th century”, according to this author. Famous people of Wisconsin.

Commons, John Rogers (1862-1945)

Patrick Cudahy: His Life

Cudahy, Patrick
Milwaukee: Burdick & Allen 1912

Patrick Cudahy was the son of an Irish immigrant who settled in Milwaukee. Patrick was employed at the Plankington and Armour meat packing plant, where he worked his way up to superintendent. In 1888 he and his brother John acquired the company, changing the name to “Patrick Cudahy”. Famous people from Milwaukee, biography of Patrick Cudahy.

Cudahy, Patrick Jr. (1849-1919)

“Jeremiah Curtin, Traveler, Linguist, Ethnologist” – Wisconsin Famous People

Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol 35, No. 1, 1951, 17-20

Heath, Frederic
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

“A biographical look at Jeremiah Curtin (1835-1906), who grew up in Milwaukee and went on to become a well-known linguist of Spanish, Hebrew, Icelandic and Sanskrit, among others, at Harvard. He studied Russian and Polish at Cambridge University. Also mentioned in the article is Curtin’s work with the Imperial Russian government, his work with the American Bureau of Ethnology to study American Indian languages, and his world travels for pleasure and study.” – Wisconsin Magazine of History. Famous people from Milwaukee, WI biography, life of Jeremiah Curtin, bio of Jeremiah Curtin.

Curtin, Jeremiah (1835-1906)

Memoirs of Jeremiah Curtin, edited with notes and introduction by Joseph Schafer

Curtin, Jeremiah and Curtin, Alma M. Cardell
Madison: State Historical Society 1940

Born to an Irish Catholic family, Jeremiah Curtin, a linguist, translator, and folklorist, spent his early years on a farm in Greenfield, Wisconsin, and the first portion of this memoir, compiled by his wife, Alma Cardell Curtin, concerns his rural Wisconsin boyhood and subsequent struggles to obtain a scholarly education. After graduating from Harvard (1863), where he studied under Francis James Child, he moved to New York, read law, and worked for the U.S. Sanitary Commission while translating and teaching languages. He then traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia (1864), where he served as Secretary to the American legation headed by Cassius Clay. The memoir describes their difficult relationship, as well as Curtin’s first travels through Russia and the Caucasus. Upon his return to the United States, Curtin lectured throughout the country about Russia, marrying Alma Cardell of Warren, Vermont in 1872.
– Summary from American Memory website. Wisconsin biographies, Famous people from Milwaukee, Wisconsin memoirs.

Curtin’s birthplace in Greenfield has been preserved and is open to the public. Memoirs of Jeremiah Curtin.

Curtin, Jeremiah (1835-1906)

Countryman’s Journal – Wisconsin Famous People

Derleth, August
Duell 1963

A near-daily journal from about 1960 maintained by prolific author August Derleth, who lived in Sac Prairie, Wisconsin. Famous authors of Wisconsin.

Derleth, August William (1909-1971)

Henry Dodge, Frontiersman – Wisconsin Famous People

Clark, James I.
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1957

Dodge was a U.S. Congressman and Senator, and served as Wisconsin’s first Territorial Governor. Famous political leaders of Wisconsin, governors of Wisconsin.

Dodge, Henry (1782-1867)

The Life of Henry Dodge from 1782 to 1833 with Portrait by George Catlin …

and maps of the battles of the Pecatonica and Wisconsin Heights in the Black Hawk War

Salter, William
Burlington, Iowa: 1890

According to the author, Dodge was the first “American” (caucasian?) child born (1782) in the area that later became the state of Indiana. He had 19 public service commissions from 1806 to 1846, including many years of military service up to the rank of Colonel, and capped by three 3-year appointments as Governor of the Territory of Wisconsin. This short, admiring biography contains highlights of Dodge’s career, a fairly extensive description of the Black Hawk War, and copies of letters from participants in that war describing key actions. Wisconsin biographies, famous political leaders of Wisconsin, governors of Wisconsin.

Dodge, Henry (1782-1867)

“James Duane Doty: Mephistopheles in Wisconsin” – Wisconsin Famous People

Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol 34, No. 4, Summer 1951, 195-198

Smith, Alice E.
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

“The article chronicles Doty’s career as a judge in the Western Michigan territory, as a territorial delegate to Congress representing Wisconsin, his involvement in Wisconsin and national politics as well as his role in land speculation around Wisconsin, in particular Madison, Neenah, and Menasha. The article concludes with his appointment, in 1861, by Abraham Lincoln as Superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Utah territory and then in 1863 to the office of Governor.” – Wisconsin Magazine of History. Political leaders of Wisconsin, governors of Wisconsin, Wi biographies, life of James Doty.

Doty, James Duane (1795-1865)

A Peculiar Treasure – Celebrities in Wisconsin

Ferber, Edna
Doubleday 1960

Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Ferber’s stunning first autobiography, in which she recounts her small-town Midwestern childhood and rise to literary fame, all amidst the backdrop of America around the turn of the 20th century.
A modest girl growing up one of the only Jewish children in her Midwestern town, Edna Ferber started overcoming the odds at a young age. Pursuing work at the local newspaper as an innocent 17-year-old, she was assigned the night court shift, reporting on drugs and violence, and gradually finding her own voice in standing up to what she witnessed. As she continued to pursue writing, she recalls the various ways in which she found inspiration, leading her to publish her first books and later, So Big, which won a Pulitzer Prize and catapulted her to fame. Ferber’s incredible experiences all occur during a time of pre-WWII rising anti-Semitism and the gaining power of Hitler in Europe, and the various historical and political tensions of the time color the fascinating events of her life. Famous women from Wisconsin, famous authors from Wisconsin, memoirs of Edna Ferber free.

Ferber, Edna (1887-1968)

“Pioneer Recollections of Beloit and Southern Wisconsin”

Wisconsin Magazine of History Vol 1, no. 3 March 1918 pp 266-286

Fisher, Lucius G.
Madison: State Historical Society

This is the story of Lucius Fisher, as told by himself, who found his way from Vermont to Chicago as a teenager in 1837, and then went on to Milwaukee (pop. 1,000) the same year. As this was in the wake of a nationwide financial panic and there was no work available there, Fisher decided to head toward the Galena mines. He then walked by way of the Indian trail to Beloit. Much of the rest of the article seems to be about early times in Beloit and the surrounding area. Wisconsin biographies, Wisconsin memoirs.

Fisher, Lucius George (1808-1886?)

“Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 …”

At Home and Abroad; or, Things and Thoughts in America and Europe

Fuller, Margaret
Boston, Roberts Brothers, 1874

Writer, editor, and social reformer Margaret Fuller recounts her trip to the Great Lakes in 1843. Organized as a series of travel episodes with literary and social commentary, Fuller traveled by train, steamboat, carriage, and on foot in a circle from Niagara Falls to Mackinac Island, west to Milwaukee, south to Pawpaw, Illinois, and back to Buffalo, New York. In this excerpt, Fuller describes her journey to and experiences in Wisconsin. The text given here was edited after her death by her brother.
– Summary from Wisconsin Historical Society site. Wisconsin biographies, Wisconsin memoirs.

Fuller, Margaret (1810-1850)

When I was a Little Girl – Celebrities in Wisconsin

Gale, Zona
NY: Macmillan 1913

“It is not an autobiography nor a continuous narrative: it consists of detached scenes in the life of the little girl, with the feelings and fancies which each evoked. Most of these are illustrated by tales which are really allegories.” In one we learn how time was first measured, and in another a revelation of
the meaning of equality. “Upon the whole, the message of the book Is more to grown-ups than to children, helping us to recapture not only the vanished days, but the vanished spirit with which we met them.”
“The book Is an unusual addition to the very limited number of good reminiscences of childhood.” – The Book Review Digest.

Zona Gale (1874-1938) was an author and playwright, and was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, in 1921. Born in Portage, WI, she attended Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She then worked for six years at newspapers in Milwaukee and New York before returning to Portage, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. In 1920 she published the novel Miss Lulu Bett, and then adapted it for a play. (The play can be found on this website, at the Wisconsin Fiction page.) It was this play that won the Pulitzer. In addition to being a prolific writer, Gale was very active in progressive political causes. Famous women from Wisconsin, famous authors of Wisconsin, memoirs of Zona Gale.

See also: Books about 19th Century American Women Authors

Gale, Zona (1874-1938)

Coming Home to Wisconsin

Gard, Robert E.
1982

Part autobiography, and part Wisconsin history & folklore.

Gard, Robert E. (1910-1992)

A Son of the Middle Border – Wisconsin Famous People

Garland, Hamlin
NY: Macmillan 1917

“‘A son of the middle border’ is Mr Garland’s view of himself and of the life he encountered along a vista that has seen one era after another of American progress give place to its successor. It is, moreover, a story of the advance of an American boy which Is none the less miraculous because it has been repeated so often in our history. … He was born in 1860 and his infancy and early childhood coincided with the most critical period in American history. His father, who had come to Wisconsin from Maine, after three years of work in Boston, enlisted in the Union army In 1863, and among the boy’s earliest recollections is the memory of his return. . . . Scene after scene of his childhood, face after face out of a past rich In recollections, Mr Garland brings before us, as his father restlessly moved westward from Wisconsin to Minnesota, from Minnesota to Iowa, and from Iowa to Dakota. . . . With his brother Franklin he went on his adventure into the east. . . . This was in 1883, when Mr Garland was twenty-three years of age. His real invasion of Boston came a little later. . . . For nearly ten years he was a Bostonian, winning his way against obstacles that would have daunted many a less ambitious young man. . . . Finally he became a professional man of letters.”
“The autobiographer is a rarer bird than the novelist; and we believe that this record may take its place among the handful of American classics of its kind.”
“In all the region of autobiography, so far as I know it, I do not know quite the like of Mr Garland’s story of his life, and I should rank it with the very greatest of that kind in literature. As you read it you realize it the memorial of a generation, of a whole order of American experience; as you review it you perceive it an epic of such mood and make as has not been imagined before.”
– The Book Review Digest. Wisconsin biographies, famous authors of Wisconsin, Wisconsin memoirs, memoir of Hamlin Garland.

Garland, Hannibal Hamlin (1860-1940)

Hamlin Garland – Wisconsin Famous People

McCullough, Joseph B.
Twayne 1978

Biography and literary criticism of the Wisconsin writer. Famous Wisconsin author, life of Hamlin Garland.

Garland, Hamlin (1860-1940)

“Augustin Grignon’s Recollections”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 3, 195-295, 1857

Grignon, Augustin
Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin

“The personal narrative of fur trader Augustin Grignon (1780-1860), whose family controlled the crucial portage on the Fox River at present-day Kaukauna from 1805 to 1835. From this place, Grignon met and was involved in some way with every important event that touched the Fox-Wisconsin waterway. His narrative touches on his own experiences and those of his forebears, from the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s uprising to the invention of the railroad and the great waves of European immigrants.”
– from the article webpage summary by the Society. Wisconsin biographies, Wisconsin pioneers, Wisconsin memoirs.

Grignon, Augustin (1780-1860)

Family correspondence, 1838, 1855-1874 (Transcriptions)

Hastings, Lucy A.
Madison: State of Wisconsin Collection

Family correspondence of 25 letters to and from Lucy A. Hastings and her husband David; including letters from relatives in Dexter, Michigan, and an 1855 description of moving from Massachusetts to Oxford, Wisconsin, and information on Indians around Oxford, moving to Eau Claire in 1857, and an Indian panic there in 1862. Wisconsin biographies, Wisconsin pioneers.

Hastings, Lucy A. (?-?)

The Woodchopper’s Ball: the Autobiography of Woody HermanCelebrities in Wisconsin

Herman, Woody
E.P. Dutton 1990

This is the bittersweet life story of a beloved bandleader who rose to fame and fortune, then spent the last 20 years of his life working to pay $1.6 million in back taxes. Written with Troup, jazz critic for New York Newsday, the book is a straightforward account of a successful career gone awry because of bad business judgment and misplaced trust. Long passages in which friends and band members reminisce about Herman add another dimension, for he was a humorous and compassionate man who helped a great number of musicians in their careers. Famous Wisconsin musicians, Wisconsin celebrities, life of Woody Herman, biographies of band leaders.

Herman, Woody (1913-1987)

Leader of the Band: The Life of Woody Herman – Wisconsin Famous People

Lees, Gene
Oxford University Press 1995

“Now comes the book that jazz lovers (and Lees’s fans) have been waiting for – Leader of the Band, a vivid, full-scale biography of Woody Herman. Asked by Herman in 1986 to write his biography, Gene Lees has spent close to a decade working on it, interviewing many of Herman’s childhood friends and lifelong acquaintances as well as numerous musicians.” – Publisher. Famous Wisconsin musicians, Wisconsin celebrities, biography of Woody Herman.

Herman, Woody (1913-1987)

Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss – Celebrities in Wisconsin

Silverman, Kenneth
HarperCollins 1996

In the most comprehensive biography written about the great illusionist yet, author Ken Silverman, who has won both a Pulitzer and a Bancroft prize, draws on never-before-used scrapbooks, personal diaries, court transcripts and hundreds of unpublished notes and letters collected from around the world to reveal a far richer, more personal view of Houdini than ever before. While Silverman focuses on the magic and miraculous escapes that made Houdini a legend and the most celebrated, highest-paid performer of his day, he also delves deeply into Houdini’s fascinating personal life. He explores Houdini’s many friendships with politicians and celebrities like Jack Dempsey, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, Jack London, the Astors and others. He looks into his traumatic encounters with anti-Semitism; his close-knit family; his strange and troubled relationship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and his bitter war against spiritualism. He also uncovers new revelations about Houdini’s secret affair with the widow of a famous American writer. Wisconsin celebrities, Famous people from Wisconsin, WI biographies, life of Harry Houdini, biography of Houdini free.

Houdini, Harry (1874-1926)

Scroll to Top