Wisconsin State Study

Wisconsin map

Join us for a Wisconsin State Study.  It’s nicknamed the Badger State and is the dairy capital of our entire country.  Yep, more milk is produced in Wisconsin than any other state.  It also boasts being the true home of Barbie dolls, the ice cream sundae, and Harley Davidson motorcycles.  Wisconsin was also the host of the very first Ringling Brothers Circus.

History of Wisconsin

Wisconsin was covered by glaciers in the far distant past, probably about 10,000 years ago or so.  Archaeological evidence suggests that people began to live in the area towards the end of the ice age.  But there are no written records until Europeans arrived in the very recent past to find Ojibwa, Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Pottawatomie and others.  But those tribes had only migrated to the area perhaps a hundred years earlier or even less.  The more ancient tribes had already died out or moved on for the most part before Europeans ever began the fur trade with the Great Lakes tribes.

The French trappers and Catholic missionaries were the first in the region.  The British took control of the area after the French and Indian War ended in 1763, but it was still mostly French trappers who actually worked and lived in the area.  In 1783 the Americans took control by treaty after the British were beat in the American War for Independence.

“Trappers Resting” by Winslow Homer, 1874

The first American industry in the future state was mining though and not trapping, which had already begun to die out as animal populations were reduced drastically.  The second population boom came with the railroads as towns were established to service the rail lines.  In 1848 Wisconsin became a state.

Photo by B Garrett from Kenosha, Wi, United States, CC license, Wikimedia.


After statehood Wisconsin became known for its farmland, huge fields of glowing wheat and corn, perfect meadows for dairy cows and up north timber harvesting, huge log jams being sent by way of the Great Lakes to far off cities.  Wisconsin also became known for its politics, being a center of the abolitionist movement, and the birthplace of the Republican Party, which was founded with the express aim of ending slavery.

That’s right, the world’s largest talking cow is in Wisconsin. Does America ROCK or what? CC license, Wikimedia

Later Wisconsin politics took an entirely different turn at the University of Wisconsin, a center of Progressive political thought, the home of John Dewey and Robert M. La Follette.  You can thank the profs at this U for the state income tax, workplace comp, compulsory education laws, and the primary election system, some of these ideas being more attractive than others.  Oddly the Progressive movement, so attractive to modern Democrats, started in the Republican party . . .

Madison, Wisconsin skyline. Photo by Archbob, released to the public domain, Wikimedia

Wisconsin Geography

Here is a Wisconsin Map to print, label, and color.  Use a student atlas to complete the map.


Additional Layers

  • Learn more about how and why the Republican party was started.
  • Wisconsin is known for its dairy products.  Find out how much wealth is produced by the dairy industry in Wisconsin.  Do you have butter, milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt or other dairy products made in Wisconsin in your grocery store?  And also how would you feel about being called a cheesehead?

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