Why Wisconsin Biographies?
Our state is shaped by people who have made history. Some of these people are known to many, while others are unsung heroes whose experiences can help make sense of our lives today. With this collection you can:
- Spark student learning with engaging animated videos
- Create relevance with complimentary discussion questions
- Peek into the past with historical image galleries
- Read on for more details in the biography books (and support emerging readers with an optional read-along audio track)
- Guide learners into deeper explorations with extension activities (find these in the educator guides below)
All Wisconsin Biographies resources are developed with Wisconsin state Social Studies and English Language Arts standards in mind.
With so many ways to wander through the past, you may be wondering where to start. Use this quick-start chart to see how the featured stories map to themes, time periods, and standards.
Educator Guides for Featured Stories
Explore these guides developed with educators, for educators to find story stats and summaries, discussion questions, and extension activity ideas for each history maker.
Mahmoud Othman Atta: A Mosque for Milwaukee
This community builder made Milwaukee his home, and brought people together by building the first mosque in the area open to all.
Stephen Babcock: Agriculture’s MVP
This agricultural chemist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison made some all-star discoveries and scored major points with the Babcock Test, totally changing the dairy industry game.
Elizabeth Baird: Life in Territorial Wisconsin
The words this strong and determined pioneer put to paper about her life in what would become Wisconsin opened a window into the past.
Walter Bresette: Treaty Rights and Sovereignty
Not afraid to stand up for what he believed in, this member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa dedicated himself to protecting the rights and lands of First Nations people in Wisconsin.
Charles Clark: From Rags to Riches
From New York to Neenah, this industrious innovator’s journey to becoming a leader in the paper products world was marked by his commitment to serving his community and country.
Mildred Fish-Harnack: Germany’s Secret Hero
This courageous justice seeker’s path would take her from Milwaukee to Germany, where belief in equal rights would lead her to join the resistance working against Hitler and the Nazis.
Carrie Frost: Fly Fishing Boss
This fly fishing phenom didn’t let her line get tangled up in the stereotypes of women of her time. She used her passion for fly fishing to start a brilliant business that put Stevens Point on the map and gave women new work opportunities.
Joshua Glover: And the End of Slavery
This freedom seeker traveled from St. Louis, Missouri to Racine, Wisconsin, and later to Canada, aided by abolitionists and the Underground Railroad. His story is part of a series of events that led to the declaration of the end of slavery in the United States.
Bill Harley & Arthur Davidson: Innovation on Two Wheels
Sick of struggling up steep hills on their bikes, these two gear heads jumped on the opportunity to improve the motorcycle, creating a business that became big in Wisconsin and around the world.
Belle Case La Follette: Ballots and Bloomers
This activist and advisor didn’t let limiting ideas about what women could do —or uncomfortable corsets—constrict her quest to get access to the ballot box and foster greater peace in the world.
Gaylord Nelson: A Vision for the Earth
From outdoor adventures in Clear Lake, to representing his community and his state in government, this down-to-earth visionary always kept his eyes on the environment to make a better world for us all.
Kate Pelham Newcomb: Doctor of the Northwoods
Neither her dad’s disapproval, nor Northern Wisconsin weather would keep this determined doctor from practicing medicine. When a dream of building a hospital seemed out of reach, her community collected a million pennies to make it happen.
Chief Oshkosh: Leader in Troubled Times
When the United States Government’s land grabs put his people in harm’s way, this Menominee leader pushed back and proposed a new plan to protect their homeland and way of life.
Les Paul: The Search for the New Sound
Getting his start at an early age, this music industry innovator from Waukesha made some serious (sound) waves with his inventions.
Vel Phillips & James Groppi: The Fight for Fair Housing
Upon learning about the school and housing discrimination happening in their hometown, these Milwaukee movers and shakers took action, making their case on the campaign trail, in the courtroom, and on the streets of their city.
Geshe Lhundub Sopa: Carrying Teachings from Tibet
This educator carried teachings of Tibetan Buddhism with him from Tibet to the United States, and built a community for teaching and learning in southern Wisconsin.
Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace
From growing up in a mountain village in Laos, to leaving his home country after the Vietnam War, to making a new home in Eau Claire, this Hmong American leader became a cross-cultural connector in his community.
Milly Zantow: Recycling Revolutionary
When this problem-solver learned that a landfill in her Sauk County community was closing much earlier than it should, she got to work. Her activism and effort ended up making big changes in plastics recycling.
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“It's so cool to be able to show my students that a person from Wisconsin was able to affect the state and the country in a big way. These are people that my students can connect with.”