Wisconsin Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups
A description of the ethnic diversity in Wisconsin, along with historical maps can be found in:
- Zaniewski, Kazimierz J. and Carol J Rosen. The Atlas of Ethnic Diversity in Wisconsin. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.
The Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures holds resources and publishes works on the ethnic and regional cultures in Wisconsin.
Many African Americans settled in Wisconsin. They were trappers and boatmen in the 1700s. Settlers from the Southern states brought slaves with them. There were many free African-Americans in Wisconsin also. For more information, you may wish to contact:
Wisconsin Black Historical Society
2620 West Center Street
Milwaukee, WI 53206
A helpful source for learning about African-Americans in Wisconsin is: Zachary Cooper, Black Settlers in Rural Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1997; Family History Library book 977.5 A1 no. 51).
Cooper, Zachary. Black Settlers in Rural Wisconsin. - Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 1977. - E185.93.W58 C66 FHL book 977.5 Al #51
Negro Business Directory of the State of Wisconsin. - [Milwaukee: S.n., 1950/51-1953.54] 2 vol. E185.93W58 N4
See Indians of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has been the home to the Chippewa, Fox, Kickapoo, Menominee, Potawatomi, Sauk, Sioux, Winnebago, and other Indian tribes. After the early 1800s, white settlers occupied most of these lands, but several reservations were created and still exist.
The Family History Library has some copies of Bureau of Indian Affairs records from Wisconsin. Most of these records are at the National Archives Great Lakes Region (Chicago). You will find several special censuses listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under WISCONSIN - CENSUS. The catalog lists Indian censuses taken as early as 1836, and annuity rolls as early as 1849.
Also listed are Bureau of Indian Affairs Indian census rolls, which were taken during the years 1885–1940. The FamilySearch Catalog lists some records of the various tribes under WISCONSIN - NATIVE RACES and others in the Subject Search under the name of the tribe.
For the very early period, be sure to check the Roman Catholic mission records. One collection of these is:
- Draper, Lyman Copeland, ed. Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1855–. (Family History Library book 977.5 B2wc; on films beginning with film 924580; digital copy online.) This series has the registers of baptisms 1695–1821 (vol. 19), marriages 1725–1821 (vol. 18), and burials 1743–1806 (vol. 19) of the Mission of St. Ignace de Michilimakinak.
Several helpful books are:
- Lurie, Nancy Oestreich. Wisconsin Indians. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1980. (Family History Library book 970.1 A1 no. 179) Contains a helpful bibliography.
- Mason, Carol I. Introduction to Wisconsin Indians: Prehistory to Statehood. Salem, Wisconsin: Sheffield Publishing, 1988. (Family History Library book 970.1 M381i.)
In the 1830s, many German settlers began arriving in Wisconsin. There are helpful indexes to the German immigrants mentioned in United States passenger lists. One set of volumes is:
- Glazier, Ira A. ed. Germans to America: Lists of Passengers Arriving at U. S. Ports. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1988–. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 W2ger. This set is a partial list of those who arrived from 1850 to 1897.
Other helpful books about Germans in Wisconsin include:
- Lacher, John Henry A. The German Element in Wisconsin. Milwaukee: Steuben Society of America, 1925.
- Ostergren, Robert Clifford, Cora Lee Kluge and Heike Bungert. Wisconsin German Land and Life. Madison: Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies, 2006.
- Zeitlin, Richard. Germans in Wisconsin. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 2000.
The Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies also holds resources on German-Americans in Wisconsin.
Original homeland - Southeast Asia - Laos
In an article by Vincent Her we learn: [Hmong American Three Decades in Wisconsin. by Vincent Her. Voyageur Northeast Wisconsin's Historical Review Summer/Fall 2009. vol. 26 no. pp. 89.]
Hmong individuals and families became displace by war torn Southeast Asia during the 1960's - 1980's. In the 1980's more than 60,000 Hmong refugees lived in Thailand later they emigrated to areas around the world.
"More than 35,000 Hmong-Americans call Wisconsin home." The first Hmong immigrants arrived in Wisconsin in the late 1970s. The article reviews: Refugee Years 1976-1986, Transition Years 1987-1997, and Integration and Assimilation 1998-present.
Groups that gave aid and assisted with relocation included: the U.S. Catholic Conference, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and other groups.
A large number of Norwegians settled in Wisconsin as early as 1839. An important repository is:
Vesterheim Genealogical Center
415 West Main Street
Madison, WI 53703
The center has family histories for Norway and the U.S., and Norwegian and U.S. censuses, church records, passenger lists, local histories, and maps.
Other helpful resources include:
- Fapso, Richard J. Norwegians in Wisconsin. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 2001.