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The State Historical Society of Wisconsin has an extensive Biography File created by the staff and volunteers. The biographies come from biographical sketches, local histories, and biographical compendia of the state that were published before 1940. The sketches are indexed in the historical society's card catalog.
The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society has published every-name indexes to about fifty of the published county histories for Wisconsin. The Family History Library has purchased most of these.
An important Wisconsin collection with biographical information about early settlers, traders, missionaries, etc., is:
Draper, Lyman Copeland. Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. 24 vols. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1855–. (FHL 977.5 B2wc; films beginning with 924580.) Volume 21 is an index to volumes 1–20. These volumes discuss various aspects of the early history of Wisconsin.
An interesting collection of biographical information about persons involved in circuses between 1793 and the present is at:
Circus World Museum
Attention: Library and Research Center
426 Water Street
Baraboo, WI 53913
This center has an index of 360,000 names, personal papers, newspaper ads, periodicals, and route books.
The Family History Library has collected biographical works on subjects such as soldiers, lawyers, women, and prominent citizens and pioneers of various regions of the state. Useful biographical encyclopedias include:
United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-made Men: Wisconsin Volume. Chicago, Illinois: American Biographical Pub., 1877. (FHL book 977.5 D3a; film 1000800 item 3; fiche 6051214.) An index is included.
Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography. Madison, Wisconsin: State Historical Society, 1960. (FHL book 977.5 D3w.) The biographies are in alphabetical order.
Nelke, David I. Columbian Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery. . . . Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Co., 1895. (FHL book 977.5 D3n; film 1036216.) An index is included.
Usher, Ellis B. Wisconsin: Its Story and Biography, 1848-1913. 8 vols. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Co., 1914. (FHL book 977.5 H2u; films 1036685-86.) Volume one has an index to the persons for whom there are biographical sketches in volumes 1–8.
Waterstreet, Darlene E. Biography Index to the Wisconsin Blue Books. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Badger Infosearch, 1974. (FHL book 977.5 N2b index.) This indexes the Wisconsin Blue Books, which list 5,000 prominent persons who lived during the period 1870–1973. The Blue Books have biographical information.