The 138 books digitized for Pioneering the Upper Midwest, ca. 1820-1910 provide an in-depth study of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from the era of colonization and settlement, from 1585 to 1763, through the emergence of modern America, from 1890 to 1930. The collection, however, provides more than a parochial history by offering insight into pivotal periods and events of the nation's history. Furthermore, there is a variety of sources, from journals, letters, and autobiographies to regional historians' monographs, that will appeal to readers and present history through multiple perspectives.
1) Colonization and Settlement, 1585-1763
Although the English colonists had the greatest impact on North America, the French dominated parts of Canada and the upper Midwest of America until the French and Indian War (1756-1763). This collection documents the era of French expansion in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. You can search on the names of early explorers such as Nicolet, Radisson, Groseilliers, Joliet, Marquette, or Perrot for journal entries including the following in which Radisson describes the arrival of Boeuf Sioux:
The day following they arrived wth an incredible pomp. This made me thinke of ye Intrance yt ye Polanders did in Paris, saving that they had not so many Jewells, but instead of them they had so many feathers . . . Most of the men their faces weare all over dabbed wth severall collours. Their hair turned up like a Crowne, and weare curt very even, but rather so burned, for the fire is their cicers. They leave a tuff of haire upon their Crowne Of their heads, tye it, and putt att ye end of it some small pearles or some Turkey [turquoise] stones, to bind their heads. They have a role commonly made of a snake's skin, where they tye severall bears' paws, or give a forme to some bitts of buff's [buffalo] horns, and put it about the said role. They grease themselves wth very thick grease, & mingle it in reddish earth, wch they bourne, as we our breeks. Wth this stuffe they gett their haire to stand up. They curt some down of Swan or other fewle that hath a white feather, and cover wth it the crowne of their heads. Their ears are pierced in 5 places; the holes are so bigg that yor little finger might passe through. They have yallow waire that they make wth copper, made like a starr or a half moone, & there hang it. . . .
Make drawings based on one of the more descriptive journal entries. This will help you to pay attention to detail and use your imagination in conceptualizing and reading about history. Write descriptions of people you see or of images from newspapers and magazines.
The first footnote to Radisson's journal provides some background on the journal, its writer, the language, and plot. You may find it helpful to refer to this note on pages 80-84, or to the corresponding transcription before investigating the journal further. As you read, notice how many different names are used for each Native-American tribe and for geographical features. What does this suggest about the culture and history of America during the period of colonization and settlement?
Also browse the Tables of Content of the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin volumes 16, 17, and 18. They contain journals and letters written by the French about Jesuit missionary work, fur trade, and Native Americans that will allow enhance understanding of the variety of motivations behind colonization and settlement.