A brief history of . . .Wisconsin Demographics



Immgrant departure from their own countries. (Frank Leslie's Illustrate Newspaper, Jan.12,1856)

The Enigration Agent's office--The Passage Money Paid. (Frank Leslie's Illustrate Newspaper, Jan. 12,1856)

Milwaukee, Wis, about 1885. Courtesy State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Copy negative, WHi (x28) 2939

Madison, Wis, about 1890. Courtesy State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Copy negative no. WHi (x22) 4491

The Life Sketch in the Metropolis- Saturday Evening Among the Germans at one of their Favorite Places of resort in the Bowery. Courtesy State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Copy negative no. WHi (x3)23554 (From Frank Leslie's illistrated newspaper, Jan 6, 1872).

First Dutch settlers of Grand Rapid, Wis?. Courtesy State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Copy negative no WHi (x3) 22829

Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, Wis. 1895-1900 (?). This is Isham family. Courtesy State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Copy negative no.WHi (X32) 5232

America is a nation of immigrated people. The population of Wisconsin also composed by a lot of immigrants. Many immigrants came to America with their dreams to this new land by ship. After Wisconsin became one state of the United States since 1848, the population of the state continued to grow with the arrival of a lot of immigrants both American and European. The Federal government made a census every ten years. These censuses could reflect some data of every state of the United States.

In 1850, The census showed 305,391 people.

In 1860, the population of Wisconsin reached 775,881.

In 1870, the census showed that the figure had gone up to more a million- 1,054,670 in Wisconsin. The population of the state had grown by near 36 per cent.

In 1880, the census showed 1,315,457 in Wisconsin.

In 1890, the population of Wisconsin had reached 1,693,330.

In 1990, the figures has gone up to more two million-2,069,042.

The Urbanize of the Population of Wisconsin
Before 1870, the majority of the people in Wisconsin lived in an essentially rural environment, either on farms or in small towns and villages. Less 20 per cent of the population as a whole was clustered in towns of 2500 or more. By 1870, there were twenty-seven towns of over 2500 population.

The biggest city was Milwaukee. Madison was also a big city.

The movement into the cities was apparent already in the 1870's. In 1877, the Christian Statesman, published in Milwaukee, was urging farm boys to stay home and not come to the city. In 1880, 24 per cent of the population had moved into urban. In 1880, 33.2 per cent of the population had moved into urban. The number of urban place has nearly doubled to forty-eight. Eleven of them had over 10,000 population. Twenty-four urban had population under 5000. In 1900, 38.2 per cent has moved into urban.

The Ethnic Group of Wisconsin
In 1850, 36.2 per cent (106,000) of the total population of Wisconsin was foreign-born, the largest number having come from the British Isles.

Irish, English, Welsh and Scotch constituted English speaking foreigners group as immigrants. But the group number began to decrease after 1850's

No-English speaking group of immigrant included German, Scandinavians, British-Americans (French-Canadians), Swiss, Dutch and Poles. In 1860, the foreign-born number had risen to 277,000, constituted only 35.7 per cent of the total. The Life Sketchs in the Metropolic- Saturday Evening Among the Germans at one of their Favorite Places of resort in the Bowery.Copy Neg. WHI (x3)23554. (From Frank Leslie's illistrated newspaper, Jan 6, 1872).

The largest number (123,879) had come from Germany. German had been the predominant element of the foreign stock in this state in 1860. The great share of the Germans (52,983) came from Prussia. The first great wave of German settlement, which reached its crest in 1854, brought with it a large number of German intellectuals and liberals, including the notable Carl Schurz.

A second great wave of immigration, from 1881 to 1884, brought the largest number of Germans, who ever entered the state. Milwaukee in 1860 contained a larger proportion of foreign-born inhabitants than did any other city in the nation except St. Louis. Of foreign-born inhabitants, more than two-thirds were Germans. In 1890, about one-half of Wisconsin's 519,199 immigrants were native of German.

The second big number came from Scandinavians group including Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes. Between 1840-1860, a large number of Norwegian also came into this state. During the 1850's and 1860's they moved into western and northwestern Wisconsin. By 1870, their areas of settle such as Dane County, Crawford County and Polk County were fairly well marked out.

The third big number was British-Americans (French-Canadians).

Other smaller groups were Swiss and Dutch immigrants.

After 1863, Pole began to come to Wisconsin, settle in some place around Marinetle Stevens Points, Berlin, Menasha, Manitowoc, Beaver Dam and La Crosse.

African American (link) and Indians (link) were two small elements of the population who found less than ready accept. According to 1860 census, Wisconsinites of African descent numbered only 1171. They constituted less than two-tenths of 1 per cent of the state's population. In 1900, the number had increased only to 2486.

In 1860, the census enumerated a total of 1017 Indians. In 1870, 1206; In 1880, 3161; In 1890, 3835. The census only accounted "civilized Indians", which means those living among the general population who were generally recognized as Indians. It did not include Indians on reservations and Winnebago and Potawatomi which were classified neither as civilized nor as reservation Indian. In 1870, the number of indians on reservation is 10,115; in 1880, the number declined to 7637. In 1890, the number was 6095.

Gara, Larry. A Short History of Wisconsin. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1962.

Thompson, William Fletcher, eds. The History of Wisconsin, vol.2, 3, 4. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1973-1998.

Thwaites, Reuben Gold (1853-1913). Stories of the Badger State, New York : American Book Co., c1900.

Further resources

Created on: April 17, 2000