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Author: WisContext

Number of women elected to Wisconsin’s legislature lags far behind other midwestern states

Women vying for public office made historic waves across the United States in the 2018 midterm elections. Wisconsin, however, didn’t quite follow that national trend. Additionally, while voters elected more women to the state Assembly in 2018, the state finds itself lagging behind its Midwest neighbors. More than a few national political observers hailed 2018 as another “Year of the Woman” following a previous declaration about the 1992 elections. While it may be simple to make such generalizations in national terms, determining how women fare in state-level elections is a different story. Over the past three decades in Wisconsin,...

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Christmas Tree Ship: The final voyage of the Rouse Simmons on Lake Michigan

Decorating Christmas trees often evokes sentimental memories of years gone by. The business behind this holiday custom has deep roots in Wisconsin’s history. One story that stands out is an early 20th Century shipwreck that serves as a reminder of the often-dangerous conditions faced by those who have plied the waters of the Great Lakes. Hoping to cash in on the seasonal tradition, Captain Herman Schuenemann purchased a 42-year-old lumber schooner named Rouse Simmons in 1910 to ship Christmas trees from Thompson, Michigan to Chicago. By this point in time, most of his competitors had discontinued the practice of...

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WWI Remembered: Anti-German sentiment targeted Milwaukee brewers and fueled Prohibition

Wisconsin may be known as the Dairy State, but its status as a bastion of beer is just as legendary. When the United States entered World War I, though, the German roots of the state’s brewing industry centered in Milwaukee fueled the efforts of prohibitionists looking to ban the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. “As German immigrants flocked into the United States, especially during the second half of the 19th century, they transformed the American brewing industry and triggered what I call the lager beer revolution,” said Jana Weiss, an associate professor of North American history at the...

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WWI Remembered: Wisconsin seen as a “Traitor State” gave rise to “Hyper-Patriots”

World War I was a defining moment for the United States. Soldiers shipped out to the Western Front, many more people took on unconventional roles at home, and Americans across the board were forced to make compromises in daily life. Wisconsin stood out in a few ways as the nation entered the war in 1917. It was anecdotally known as the “traitor state,” as nine of the state’s 11 U.S. representatives voted against going to war. One city in particular illustrated how much views on the war could be polarized: Milwaukee. Wisconsin’s most populous city had long been home...

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Wisconsin’s “last generation” farmers face tough choices for land usage

For land-owning farmers facing tough economic circumstances, the decision to forgo another year’s crop or to liquidate their livestock is not an easy one. Some may choose to retire from farming, selling their equipment and land. Others, however, pursue a somewhat different route, renting out their property with an eye towards a brighter financial future. “The commodity prices are such that several people have decided to discontinue their livestock operations, but that doesn’t mean they move into town,” said Arlin Brannstrom, faculty associate at the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability. “They still live on the farmstead, and...

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Offering a “Taste Of Place” puts Farmers Markets in competition over locally sourced food

Farmers markets provide many benefits for communities of all sizes. They offer a physical location for people to connect with their neighbors, access farm-fresh and healthy foods, and learn more about how food is grown. In addition, farmers’ markets help generate economic activity at local businesses and may attract tourists looking for a special “taste of place.” Perhaps most importantly, farmers’ markets provide an opportunity for small and medium-sized farms to reach consumers directly and retain a larger share of profit from their products’ sales. Around the nation, farmers’ markets are on the rise. The U.S. Department of Agriculture...

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