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175 Campaign | Wisconsin Historical Society

175 Campaign

Celebrate Wisconsin's Hmong Heritage!

History is a story with many voices, always growing and evolving—a story we tell together.

Throughout time and place, humans have looked to the past to inspire the future. We study the stories of those who came before us to define who we are today, and who we want to become tomorrow. We have a conversation with our past to build a better future. There are countless chapters in this story — achievements that inspire us to be better, and tragedies that remind us not to go down the wrong path. Follow along as we share fascinating and diverse stories of people and places from Wisconsin history.

In 2021, the Wisconsin Historical Society marks its 175th year of collecting, preserving, and sharing history. Join us in celebrating Wisconsin visionaries, changemakers, and storytellers. We hope you find these stories illuminating, powerful, and inspiring.

Celebrating Wisconsin's Hmong Community

This fall, we are honoring Wisconsin's vibrant Hmong community and the determination of those who overcame adversity as they fled war-torn Southeast Asia in the wake of the Vietnam War to establish a new life in Wisconsin. Together, this community has built support systems to preserve their traditions and to help one another as they enrolled in schools, started businesses, and strove for independence. While their shared experience and history of perilous journeys, refugee camps, and discrimination will never be forgotten, these tragedies do not define them. The Hmong story is a story of survival and hope as they have become an important part of Wisconsin communities. Celebrate by exploring fascinating stories of Hmong visionaries, changemakers, and storytellers with ties to Wisconsin.

A formal headshot of Pao Lor, head on smiling at the camera wearing a red and white checkered collard shirt under a black jacket. He smiles happily at the camera, his black hair cropped close.

Pao Lor

A formal headshot of Mai zong Vue, smiling at the camera, wearing glasses and a multi-color woven quarter length sleeve jacket. Her hands are clasped in front of her and she rests her cheek on her fingers. Her dark hair is partially pulled back and her bangs, dust her glasses.

Mai Zong Vue

In this formal portrait of Kristy Yang, she is seated in front of a bookshevles of law books. She smiles politely at the camera, her black hair draped across her shoulders. She wears a black shirt with a white edged black bow tied at the collar and her judge robes.

Kristy Yang

Headshot photo of Bouachao Xiong. Standing in font of a blurred background of the interior of a fire station, he's wearing his dark blue firefighter uniform with his hand resting on a nearby firetruck. He wears glass and smiles slightly at the camera.

Bouachao Xiong

Explore Related Press Books

 
Hmong in Wisconsin

As one of the most recent cultural groups to arrive in the Badger State, the Hmong have worked hard to establish a new life here, building support systems to preserve traditions and to help one another. Told with a mixture of scholarly research, interviews, and personal experience of the author, this latest addition to the People of Wisconsin series shares the Hmong’s varied stories of survival and hope as they have become an important part of Wisconsin communities.

Buy the Book
Modern Jungles: A Hmong Refugee's Childhood Story of Survival

After a difficult and perilous journey that neither of his parents survived, five-year-old Pao Lor reached the safety of Thailand, but the young refugee boy's challenges were only just beginning. In this book, Pao Lor shares his inspiring coming-of-age tale about perseverance, grit, and hope. Included are discussion questions for use by book clubs, in classrooms, or around the dinner table.

Buy the Book
Mai Ya's Long Journey

Designed for grades 3–5, this book tells the story of young Mai Ya Xiong and her family and their journey from the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand to a new life in Madison, Wisconsin. Their story is extraordinary, yet it is typical of the stories of the 200,000 Hmong people who left their homeland to ultimately make a new home in the United States

Buy the Book
Hand stitched journey quilt with a grey and periwinkley triangle border and straight borders. The interior depicts many brightly colored figures depicting the Secret War in Laos and the Hmong escape across the Mekong River and journeying to the U.S.A., made by Ge Yang.

Hmong In Wisconsin

Wisconsin Historical Museum Exhibit

Open through 2022

The Hmong came to the United States as refugees starting in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of these families found homes in Wisconsin, which now has the third-largest Hmong population in the country. As one of the most recent cultural groups to arrive in the Badger State, the Hmong have worked hard to establish a new life here, preserving traditions as they enrolled in schools and started businesses. In conjunction with the new Wisconsin Historical Society Press book of the same name, this exhibit shares how the Hmong people have become an important part of Wisconsin communities.

Learn More

Watch a Conversation with the Society

 

Visionaries

We celebrate these forward-looking innovators who charted new paths for others.

Ben Barkin rides in a vintage convertible waving happily to the crowd during a parade. His shirt is bright red and blue color block.

Ben Barkin

Studio portrait of Benjamin Butts wearing bow tie and suit circa 1930. He looks earnestly at the camera, mustache full and eyes twinkling.

Benjamin Butts

Billy Schultz wears a black and white suit with no jacket. His hands are on his hips and he squints with a slight grimace at something off camera. He's facing profile and to the right.

William Schultz

C. Latham Sholes in his later years. Looking away from the camera in this formal studio portrait, he stares hard to the left his hair and beard full and white, in a smart suit and bowtie.

C. Latham Sholes

Carl Eliason, inventor of the modern day snowmobile, stands next a snowmobile and the historic marker in Sayner during winter with his fur lined winter clothes.

Carl Eliason

Debra Amesqua wearing a black cowboy hat and a toothy smile holds a small guitar as though she's about to start playing.

Debra Amesqua

Manonia Evans (left) and Donna Burkett, 1971. Manonia Evans wears a wide labeled dress with short almost capped sleeves, her hair is curly and short, a small smile plays across her lips. Donna Burkett wearing a pork pie hat with a light ribbon, set at a jaunty angle and casual light suit. They stand close together with Evans' arm wrapped around one of Burkett's.

Donna Burkett & Manonia Evans

Edwin Farber examines a large light fixture looking focused and wearing a smart suit and glasses.

Edward R. Farber

Head and shoulders portrait of Ezekiel Gillespie. He looks slightly to the left away from the camera, looking serious and austere. A small pair of spectacles sit on his nose and he wears a smart suit in this grainy old studio portrait.

Ezekiel Gillespie

Laurel Clark in her astronaut uniform smiling at the camera with the american flag behind her.

Laurel Clark

Michael Vang plays soccer, running hard and fast towards the camera eye on the ball out of frame, another play close behind over his shoulder.

Michael Vang

Longtime Sauk County resident Milly Zantow (1923-2014) sits in front of a wall of plastic, crushed into cubes ready to be recycled. She smiles slightly at the camera, wearing glasses, a white tank top, and a blue apron.

Milly Zantow

Miriam Frank and Charlotte Partridge stand in front of a car, smiling slightly in this informal portrait. They are both wearing long black skirts, and lighter colored blouses. Bespeckled with round frames and both wear hats.

Miriam Frink & Charlotte Partridge

Ralph Kerwineo in a formal portrait, looking slightly away from camera, no hat, and a sharp collar.

Ralph Kerwineo

Ralph Warner, looks almost temptingly at the camera, chin tilted down, hat on.

Ralph Warner

Reverend John W. Carhart, ca. 1880, looks at the camera darkly in this formal studio portrait. His beard is full, and his hair is coiffed longer on top short on the sides. His eyes are overcast but there is a slight smile on his lips.

Reverend John W. Carhart

Tom Blake (shown in 1922) a handsome young man wears a swiming costume in front of a wire fence around a swimming pool. He looks steelily at the camera, a bit of a challenge in his eyes hair messy from swimming.

Thomas Blake

Hayward native Tony Wise shown in this undated photo in front of the Telemark Lodge looks off to the right away from the camera while wearing warm winter clothes for the snowy world around him. He's older, a bit rotund, with a slight squint and frown from the glare off the snow.

Tony Wise

Changemakers

We celebrate these changemakers who were pivotal in our state's history.

Ada Deer, 2007. A middle aged woman looking confidently at the camera while smiling. Her shirt is black and she wears beaded necklace pendant.

Ada Deer
Menominee

Portrait of Professor Ephraim “Eph” Williams looking a bit mysterious with his bowler hat and cane.

Ephraim Williams

In this atmospheric black and white photo, Ingrid Washinawatok looks down and off to the left away from the camera, her hair in main thin braids draped over her shoulders, and hand placed on her neck.

Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa
Menominee

Judy Greenspan smiles happily at the camera in this outdoor photograph, wearing a leather jacket and a cowl neck like sweater. She used this photo in her campaign for School board.

Judy Greenspan

Jesus Salas, leader of Obreros Unidos (United Workers), Wisconsin's migrant farm worker union looks away from the camera and down, completely in profile his expression serious. En Espanol: Jesús Salas, líder de Obreros Unidos, un sindicato para trabajadores emigrantes en Wisconsin. Mira lejos de la cámara y hacia abajo, completamente de perfil su expresión seria

Jesús Salas

Lloyd Barbee in a somber crowd at a memorial gathering for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Looking off to the left his expression serious.

Lloyd Barbee

This amazing woman, dressed in Edwardian period dark clothing, sits and looks comfortably at her giant python that is draped across her lap and onto the floor. She has a feathered cap.

Lou Ringling

Lou Sullivan sits dramatically, and somewhat seriously, in a tuxedo with his hair slicked back behind his ears, stylishly. Lou Sullivan pictured in 1974 before attending the GPU’s drag ball.

Lou Sullivan

A formal portrait of Lucia Nunez, her curly hair tousled and slightly two toned, she wears a black turtle neck and a gray sweater jacket.

Lucía Nuñez

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes smiles proudly at the camera in this portrait in front of the Wisconsin & US Flags.

Mandela Barnes

Margaret Farrow, Wisconsin’s first female lieutenant governor, at her home in Pewaukee. She looks off to the left away from the camera her hand on her chin smiling and looking as though she might be remembering the past, photos spread before her.

Margaret A. Farrow

Maria Luis Morales speaking at a demonstration for peace. She's wearing a blue shirt for the demonstration and her dark hair pulled back into a ponytail, scales of justice are visible behind her.

Maria Luisa Morales

An austere woman stands facing to the right, but looking left. She holds writing implements and wears a long black robe.

Mathilde Anneke

Looking austere and serious, she looks away slightly to the left of the camera her hair pulled tight to her head.

Mildred Fish-Harnack

Steve Gunderson gestures animatedly in front of chalkboard with equations behind him. Wearing a suit and fun tie he seems excited and engaged.

Steve Gunderson

Women workers pose outside Fairbanks Morse, 1943-1945. Teresa is highlighted in the above image in the second row, third from left. A slight smile can be seen on her face, despite the blurriness of the old image.

Teresa Kuykendall

Storytellers

We celebrate these storytellers who played a role in sharing history.

Allie Crumble working on a quilt, 1987. Throwing some serious side eye.

Allie Crumble

Chef Carson Gulley, University of Wisconsin-Madison residence hall chef, chopping vegetables.

Carson Gulley

David Carter informal portrait, smiling, medium short hair, a burdundy knit sweater with a plaid collar from a button up poking out.

David Carter

Earlene Fuller, smiles happily while holding her bowling ball. From the collection of Earlene Fuller bowling league photographs, 1963-1995.

Earlene Fuller

Helen Farnsworth Mears sitting on a ladder and resting her head against her hand.

Helen Farnsworth Mears

Jerome looking seriously off into the distance while in a canoe. Photograph was taken in 1942 on the Bad River Reservation, probably in the Kakagon sloughs.  He captioned it, The Hunter. You can see his rifle so we know he's out hunting. Based on that and how the rice beds behind him look, likely taken in autumn.

Jerome Arbuckle
Bad River Ojibwe

Undated studio portrait of Lavinia Goodell. She looks directly at the camera and her lips tilted up slightly in a smile.

Lavinia Goodell

Elizabeth Fentress wears a bright magenta floor length satin gown. She smiles proudly in her top hat directly facing the camera in front of the big top.

Liz Fentress

Portrait of Lutie Eugenia Stearns looking directly at the camera and seeming serious.

Lutie Stearns

Marin Denning looking at the camera wearing a tradionally beaded neck piece over a paisley print tie and a teal shirt in a black suit jacket. The background is a brightly printed tapestry, with primarily triangle motifies.

Marin Denning
Oneida

Marjorie Engleman looks away from the camera laughing and looking joyous

Marjorie Engelman

Robert Albert Bloch, author of Psycho, surrounded by tall bookshelves full of books, is sitting in front of a typewriter with an open cigarette case full of cigarettes, a bottle of Wing Fhung Hong, and a pile of papers.

Robert Albert Bloch

Robert Doyle emerges from a captured Japanese pillbox at Buna, New Guinea, (present day Papua New Guinea). The pillbox is built of dirt, logs and foliage.

Robert Doyle

Holocaust survivor Rosa Goldberg Katz in her residence looking quite happy as she sits at her table.

Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Rosa Katz

Check out our unique products, books, and upcoming events that continue the celebration of Wisconsin visionaries, changemakers, and storytellers.

Learn More About Wisconsin's History

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