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Early Madison: Reminiscences and Booklists

A bibliography of books about Madison's history, from the University of Wisconsin to Grace Episcopal Church to historical maps. Created by library staff in 1998.

Biographical DirectoriesBiographiesEducationHistorical BuildingsHistories | Libraries | Maps & AtlasesNewspapersPhotographsReligion

"The spectacle was a vision so glorious, that it painted itself on my memory with a vividness that has never left it. Just previous to reaching the elevation I had been overtaken by a gentleman also bound for Madison, and when we reached the summit, both stopped our horsess in involuntary surprise. Four Lakes lay spread out before us, brought out in strong relief by the declining sun just sinking in the west, shining like burnished mirrors. On all sides forest and prairie swept down in lines and patches unobstructed to their shores. Except the village, magnified a thousand fold as a central figure, there was no break in the scene-not a mark of human improvement. As this line of white beach sand glowing in the half an hour of twilight passed before our interest in the golden vision was satisfied."

H.A. Tenney, 1845
(Durrie, p.160-161)

Biographical Directories

Biographical Guide to Forest Hill Cemetery.
Historic Madison, 1996.
A history of Madison's cemeteries with biographical sketches of many Madisonians buried at Forest Hill.
*920.077583 B52b

Biographical Review of Dane County, Wisconsin.
Biographical Review Publishing, 1883.
"Biographical sketches of pioneer and leading citizens."
*977.58300922 B52b

History of Dane County, Biographical and Genealogical.
Western Historical Association, 1906.
An alphabetical collection of biographical sketches of Dane County residents. Many of their ancestors were Madison pioneers.
*977.583 H629.

The Madison City Directory and Business Mirror.
Smith, DuMoulin & Co., 1858.
This is the first issue of the Madison City Directory. An interesting source of early Madison history. The collection also includes the Madison City Directory from 1866 to the present.
*917.758 M26

Mandel, David.
Settlers of Dane County, The Photographs of Andreas Larsen Dahl.
Dane County Cultural Affairs Committee, 1985.
This collection of photographs and commentary illustrate everyday life in early Dane County.
*917.583041 M312s

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"We challenge the world to produce a location for a city whose position embraces so many practical advantages, combining beauty with utility, health with facilities of living, a climate free from changes that disturb the labor or impair the energies of our people, on shore of lakes of surpassing loveliness, the capital of the state and residence of her officers, the seat of her university."

Hon. J.C. Fairchild,
Inaugural Message, April 7, 1856 (Draper, p. 24)


Billington, Ray.
Frederick Jackson Turner. Oxford, 1973.
This University of Wisconsin professor and authority on the history of the West, arrived in Madison in 1878.
*901 T85b

Hesseltine, William
Pioneer's Mission, the Story of Lyman Copeland Draper.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1954.
Lyman Draper arrived in Madison in 1852. Four years later he became Secretary of the State Historical Society, a position he held until his retirement in 1886. It was during this time that the Society developed and flourished.
*901 D79

Jackson, Alice.
Three Hundred Years American, The Epic of a Family.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1951.
Biography of a young English physician who settle in Madison in 1854.
*901 J137

Jones, Burr.
Reminiscences of Nine Decades.
Antes Press, (1937?)
An autobiography of a Madison lawyer and politician. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1870 and later joined the law school faculty.
*901 J711r

LaFollette, Robert M.
LaFollette's Autobiography, A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences.
The Robert M. LaFollette Co., 1913.
This autobiography offers insight into the politics of early Madison.
*901 L135

Merrill, Horace S.
William Freeman Vilas, Doctrinaire Democrat.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1954.
A biography of a Madison lawyer and politician who, with his parents, settled here in 1850. *901 V71m

A Merry Briton in Pioneer Wisconsin.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1950.
Originally published in London in 1842, the author offers a brief account of his stay in Madison in the summer of 1841.
*977.5 M55

Ross, Sam.
The Empty Sleeve, Biography of Lucius Fairchild.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1964.
A biography of the son of Madison's first mayor. Lucius Fairchild was governor from 1866 to 1872.
*901 F161r

Smith, Alice E.
James Duane Doty, Frontier Promotor.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1954.
A detailed account of Doty's scheme that resulted in Madison being selected as the capital.
*901 D753s

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"For natural beauty of situation, Madison surpasses any Western town I have seen. It is built on a narrow isthmus between the Third and Fourth Lakes. On the summit this mound stands the State House, in the centre of a handsome square of fourteen acres, from which broad, smooth streets diverge with a gradual descent, on all sides. To the West, and about a mile distant, stand the University, on the summit of a hill, or mound, of about equal height. The Madisonians count seven hills, but I could not make them out, distinctly, nor do I think it necessary to the beauty of the place that it should have a forced resemblance to Rome. In one respect, it is equal-in a soft, beautiful, cream-colored stone, which furnishes the noblest building material. Many of the business blocks and private houses display some architectural taste."

Bayard Taylor.
N.Y. Weekly Tribune, May 5,1855
(Draper, p. 23)


Butterfield, C.W.
History of the University of Wisconsin.
University Press Co. 1879.
A year-by-year account of the University of Wisconsin's first thirty years.
*378.775 B98h

Curti, Merle.The University of Wisconsin, a History.
University of Wisconsin Press, 1949.
The first volume of this three-volume set is a detailed account of the very beginnings of the university.
*378.775 C94u

Thwaites, Rueben G.
Historical Sketch of the Public Schools of Madison, Wisconsin, 1839-1885.
Cantwell, 1886.
Prepared at the request of the Board of Education, the author portrays the early times of the Madison schools from interviews with pioneers, correspondence with former students and teachers, as well as researching school records.
*379.775 T42

Thwaites. Rueben G.
The University of Wisconsin, Its History, and Its Alumni.
Purcell, 1900.
This history of the university from 1839 to 1900 includes a history of each department, and biographical sketches of faculty members, regents and alumni.
*378.7 T42

"March 9 (1831) our journey this day led us past the first of the Four Lakes. Scattered alone its bank was a encampment of Winnebagoes........How beautiful the encampment looked in the morning sun.......I was sorry to leave."

Juliette Kinzie
Wau-bun p.102

Historic Buildings

Brock, Thomas D.
The Findley House.
Science Tech Publishers, 1993.
In this history of the Findley house the reader also learns about the development of a Madison neighborhood and the importance of the quarry industry.
*977.583 B782f

Feldman, Jim.
The Buildings of the University of Wisconsin. 1997.
This is a well-footnoted history of buildings on campus, with wonderful photographs.

Rankin, Katherine.
The Historic Resources of Downtown Madison.
Downtown HistoricPreservation Task Force, 1997.
This is a catalog of sorts with pictures of historic buildings in the downtown area. There are short description of the buildings and information about the first inhabitants, also includes brief descriptions of the neighborhoods.
*977.583 R176h

Tipler, Gary.
Mansion Hill, Glimpses at Madison's Silk Stocking District. 1981.
This is an architectural and social history of Big Bug Hill.
*977.584 T499

The following walking tours are complete with histories of Madison's early neighborhoods, photographs and descriptions of the historic buildings. (They are located in the Pamphlet File.)

Cartwright, Carol.
The Langdon Street Historic District: A Walking Tour.
City of Madison, 1986.

Gruber, John.
Madison's Pioneer Buildings: A Downtown Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1987.

Heggland, Timothy F.
The Greenbush-Vilas Neighborhood: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, l991.

Heggland, Timothy F.
The Old Marketplace Neighborhood: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1991.

Heggland, Timothy F.
The Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmark Commission, 1997.

Heggland, Timothy F.
The University Heights Historic District: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1987.

Hermolin, Joseph.Schenk's-Atwood Neighborhood: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1987.

Leuchter, Sara.The Third Lake Ridge Historic District: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1987.

Marx, Jill
Madison Houses, 1836-1915.
Taychopera Inc., n.d.

Mollenhoff, Leigh.
Sandstone and Buffalo Robes, Madison's Historic Buildings.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1975.

Tipler, Gary.The First Settlement Neighborhood: A Walking Tour.
Madison Landmarks Commission, 1988.

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"Madison has a most magnificent site of any inland town I ever saw, on a graceful swell of land........rising gently from the west bank of one of a chain of four lakes......Madison is growing very fast....... She has a glorous future before her."

Horace Greeley, March, 1855
(Draper, p22)


Birmingham, Robert.
Native American Mounds in Madison and Dane County.
City of Madison, 1994.
The booklet discusses mound building in Dane County and lists twenty sites accessible to the public. A map is included.
*977.58301 B537n

Butterfield, C. W.
History of Dane County.
Western Historical Co., 1880.
A richly-detailed history of Dane County with lengthy excerpts from diaries and recollections of Madison's early settlers. Another unique feature is the inclusion of the names of members of early social, business and governmental organizations. The volume concludes with biographical sketches.
*977.583 W52h

Cassidy. Frederic G.
Dane County Place Names.
University of Wisconsin Press, l968.
A small, fascinating volume. In addition to identifying place names, the author includes pronunciation, spelling variances and name changes, as well as tracing the appearance of the names on maps.
*977.583003 C27d

Draper, Lyman C.
"Michel St. Cyr, An Early Dane County Pioneer,"
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
The Society, l872. Vol. VI, p397-400.
The article is a discussion of the Canadian Indian trader and his role assisting Doty in surveying Madison..
*977.7 W75

Draper, Lyman C.
"Naming of Madison and Dane County and the Location of the Capital."
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
The Society, 1872. Vol VI, p.388-396.
An essay quoting several sources describing how Madison was selected as site of the state capital.
*977.7 W75

Draper, Lyman C.
Madison, the Capital of Wisconsin; Its Growth, Progress, Conditions,Wants and Capabilities.
Calkins & Proudfit, l857.This little work was prepared at the request of the Common Council. Its purpose was to portray the history, conditions and prospects of Madison as a "worthy political metropolis." Also includes reminiscences.
*977.584 D79m

Durrie, Daniel S.
A History of Madison, the Capital of Wisconsin: including the Four Lakes Country to July, l874.
Atwood & Culver, 1874.
A history of early Madison, detailing the contributions of innumerable Madison residents. Includes wonderful reminiscences.
*977.758 D93

Gregory, John (editor)
Southwestern Wisconsin, a History of Old Crawford County.
Chicago: Clarke, l932.
Volume two contains a cultural history of Dane County. The third and fourth volumes contain biographical sketches.
*977.5 G86

Hamel, Lynne.
A Taste of Old Madison.
Wisconsin Tales & Trails, 1974.
A wonderful collection of recipes, nostalgia, photographs and line drawings of early Madison.
*977.584 H17t

Historic Madison, Inc.
The Journal of Historic Madison.
1975-to date.
An annual journal devoted to articles about our city's history.
*977.584 H629j

Keyes, Elisha W.
History of Dane County.
Western Historical Association, 1906.
This Dane County history, edited by a prominent Madisonian, is a detailed description of the early days of Madison and its selection and development as the capital of a new state.
*977.583 K52h

Knapp, J. C.
"Reminiscences of Madison."
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
The Society, 1872. Vol. VI , p366-387.
This paper, which was read at the meeting for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in July, l866, portrays the early days of state government. The author came to Madison as a delegate to the Territorial Congressional Convention.
*977.7 W75

Madison, Dane County, the Surrounding Town: Being a History and Guide.
Wm. J. Park, 1877.
In addition to a history of Madison, this volume includes a sketch of each of the towns of Dane County. An index was added to the reprint edition.
*977.583 M265

Madison, Past and Present, 1852-1902.
Wisconsin State Journal, 1902.
This newspaper format volume identifies early Madison institutions, organizations and businesses. Contains many photographs.
*977.58 W75

Madison, Wis. and Its Points of Interest.
Commercial Publishing Co., 1899.
The flavor of Madison can easily be seen in this volume. Following a brief description of the city are photographs and articles about local businesses.
*917.758 M269

Mattern, Carolyn.
Soldiers When They Go, The Story of Camp Randall, l86l-l869.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, l981.
At Camp Randall the Wisconsin troops were trained for battle in the Civil War. The conditions at the camp are well-portrayed .
*973.7475 M429s

Mollenhoff, David
Madison, A History of the Formative Years.
Kendall/Hunt, l982.
This history of Madison is a fully documented social history from its beginnings to 1920. It has become the first source to consult regarding Madison history.
*917.7584 M736m

Peck, Roseline.
"First House and First Resident Family of Madison."
Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
The Society, 1872. Vol. VI, p343-365.
A wonderful essay refuting Feathstonhough's criticism of Madison's hospitality and of Roseline Peck herself. The essay also reveals the hardships endured by Madison's first settlers.
*977.5 W75

Quaife, Milo.
Constitutional Series.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1918-1928.
Not only does this four volume set include the proceedings of the legislature and Congress regarding statehood, but also selections on the topic from the Madison newspapers, the Madison Argus and the Madison Democrat.
*977.5 Q75

"Report on Picture Gallery". Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
The Society, 1859, Vol. IV, p88-93.
This article includes geologist G. W. Feathstonhaugh's graphic description of his Madison visit in May, 1837. It was published in London in 1847.
*977.5 W75

Salkin, Philip.
The Prehistory of Dane County, a View of 12,000 Years.
Dane County Regional Planning Commission, 1984.
Archaeological data is used to trace the history of Dane County's inhabitants from the earliest known occupation to l830.
*977.58301 Sa34p

Sandrock, Laura Mae.
Frontier Aspects of Early Madison.
University of Wisconsin. l9l9.
This thesis' purpose is to show the influences that affected the changing conditions as Madison grew from a village to a city.
*977.584 Sa57f

Thwaites, Reuben Gold
The Story of Madison.
Hunt, l973.
Originally written in 1900 by the distinguished Wisconsin historian Reuben Thwaites, this is a portrayal of early Madison which concludes with a chronology of events from 1879 to 1899.
*977.584 T45s

Wisconsin State Journal. Front Page, 1839 - 1988.
Wisconsin State Journal, l988.
This is a collection of selected front pages from the newspaper beginning in l839.
*070.1720977584 F928f

"Madison, county seat of Dane, and Capitol of the State, perhaps combines and overlooks more charming and diversified scenery, to please the eye of fancy, and promote health and pleasure than any other town in the West: and , in these respects, it surpasses any other State capital in the Union.............Nor is it less noteworthy for its business advantages and healthful positions. Situated on elevated ground amid delightful groves and productive lands, it must be healthy: while the abundance and convenience of fine streams and water-powers must facilitate a sound and rapid advancement in agricultural pursuits and mechanic arts."

Daniel S. Curtiss, 1851
(Draper, p23-24)


Efird, Kim.
The Genesis of the Madison Public Library. 1972
This is an interesting discussion of the beginning of the library movement in Madison. It began with the private collection of the Madison Institute, amd evolved into the public library.
*027.477583 Ef65g

Ela, Janet.
Free and Public, One Hundred Years with Madison Public Library. l975.
This is a discussion of the evolution of the Madison Public Library from a collection of books kept in temporary offices to the library as it is today.
*027.4775 EL11f

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Maps and Atlases

Foote, C. M.
1890 Plat Book of Dane County, Wisconsin.
This plat book was recently reprinted and includes a name index to the land ownership maps.
*912.77583 F739p1

Gay, Leonard W.
New Atlas of Dane County, Wisconsin.
Madison, l899.
This atlas shows land ownership. County Histories of the "Old Northwest" Series I
Wisconsin Microfilm Reel 19, #16

Greeley, Horace.
Map of Madison and the Four Lake Country, 1855.
The first published map of Madison. Reprint in A Brief History of Madison and the American Exchange Bank of Madison, 1971.
*332.1097 Am35b

Harrison and Warner.
Atlas of Dane County, Wisconsin.
Madison, 1873.
Land ownership and town grids are included in this early atlas. County Histories of the "Old Northwest" Series I Wisconsin.
Microfilm Reel 20,#73

Ligowsky, A.
Map of Dane County, Wisconsin, Cut and Mounted as an Atlas.
Madison. 1861.
This early atlas includes maps of Dane County towns and land ownership. County Histories of the "Old Northwest" Series I Wisconsin.
Microfilm Reel 32,#108

Sanborn Map Company.
Insurance Map of Madison. Sanborn Map Company.
Maps of Madison for 1885, 1892 and 1898. Microfilm
*917.758 Sa5 (1892 paper)


Stand, Roland.
Story of the Democrat.
Strand, 1948.
The third newspaper to be published in Madison, the Democrat was published from 1868 to 1920. This newspaper history includes headlines and excerpts from articles.
*017.7583 St81s

The Wisconsin State Journal, Sept. 30, 1852 to date.

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View of Madison, Wisconsin.
W. C. McFarland, (190?)
This collection of photographs includes the City Hall on Wisconsin Avenue and the fire at the Capitol.
*917.758 V679

Madison, Wisconsin.
Pickarts & Nicodemus, l900.
A panorama taken from the Capitol is just one of the many photographs included in the work.
*917.75840441 M264m


Doane, Gilbert.
Grace Episcopal Church. The Church, 1958.
A history of the church beginning when Rev. Jackson Kemper arrived in Madison in 1838.
*283.77583 D65g

The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the First Congregational Church of Madison, Wisconsin, 1840-1915.
The Church Publication Committee, (1916?)
A historical sketch of one of Madison's first churches.
*288.5 M26

Swarensky, Manfred.
From Generation to Generation. l955.
This a short history of the Madison Jewish community beginning in 1851.
*301.452 Swf2

"On the fourth of July, 1837, we had an impromptu celebration at Peck's Mansion...... We had refreshments, with champagne, lemonade, punch, toasts and some conversational speeches. It was quite enjoyable, the more so from the absence of the clap-trap and parade, and the noise of gunpowder usual upon such occasions. The day was fine and the country about the four lakes, to me at least, never looked more beautiful. A more enthusiastic company with 'great expectations' could rarely be found."

John Catlin
(Durrie p35-36)

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