Wisconsin Biographies

The Biographies

Innovators of Industry

Meet the experimenters, makers, and trailblazers from Wisconsin’s past who innovated solutions to real-world problems.
Illustration of Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock

Agriculture’s MVP

1843–1931

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.

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 Bill Harley and Arthur Davidson

Bill Harley & Arthur Davidson

Innovation on Two Wheels

1880–1843
1881–1950

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.

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 Les Paul

Les Paul

The Search for the New Sound

1915–2009

Getting his start at an early age, this music industry innovator from Waukesha made some serious (sound) waves with his inventions.

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.