Wisconsin Biographies

The Biographies

Community Builders

Meet big-hearted Wisconsinites from history who created communities and helped those around them to thrive.
Illustration of Elizabeth Baird

Elizabeth Baird

Life in Territorial Wisconsin

1810–1890

The words this strong and determined pioneer put to paper about her life in what would become Wisconsin opened a window into the past.

Illustration of Charles Clark

Charles Clark

From Rags to Riches

1842–1891

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.

Illustration of Carrie Frost

Carrie Frost

Fly Fishing Boss

1868–1937

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.

Illustration of Belle Case La Follette

Belle Case La Follette

Ballots and Bloomers

1859–1931

This activist and advisor didn’t let limiting ideas about what women could do —or uncomfortable corsets—confine her in her quest to get access to the ballot box and foster greater peace in the world.

Illustration of Kate Pelham Newcomb

Kate Pelham Newcomb

Doctor of the Northwoods

1885–1956

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.

Illustration of Chief Oshkosh

Chief Oshkosh

Leader in Troubled Times

1795–1858

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.

Illustration of Vel Phillips and James Groppi

Vel Phillips & James Groppi

The Fight for Fair Housing

1924-2018
1930-1985

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.

Embroidered illustration of Joe Bee Xiong from animated biography

Joe Bee Xiong

War to Peace

1961–2007

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.

Illustration of Milly Zantow

Milly Zantow

Recycling Revolutionary

1923–2014

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.