The University of Wisconsin Press

Wisconsin / Photography / History


The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History,
Volume 1, 1856–1931
Stuart D. Levitan

See the Madison that was and the Madison that might have been

This engaging illustrated history, full of photographs, maps, and bird's-eye views, captures Madison's early history from its first days as a city to the Great Depression. Biographical vignettes tell the stories of early movers and shakers in the city. The volume includes many archival images of Madison that have never been published or have not been seen for a century or more.

"Every page and every illustration selection bears the stamp of Levitan's passionate and opinionated affection for his adopted hometown. Using a multitude of published and unpublished sources and the magnificent collections of photographs and illustrations available for Madison research, Levitan informs, entertains, engages, surprises, and, in some instances, will outrage. Historically informed Madison readers will have 'I never knew that' moments, and newcomers to the Madison area will be astounded to see the transformations wrought since Madison struggled into being in 1837 as a hamlet/capital. Madison historians who now refer offhandedly to Parks, Thwaites, and Mollenhoff have a new name to add to their list: Levitan."–Jack Holzhueter, historical consultant and retired editor, Wisconsin Magazine of History

2006 marks the 150th anniversary of the city of Madison.

Photo of Stuart Levitan shows him in with glasses and a distinguished beard.
Stuart Levitan has been a mainstay of Madison media and government since 1975. An award-winning print and broadcast journalist, he has written extensively for local and national programs on radio and television. A former county supervisor, he is the only person in Madison history to chair all three of the city's primary land use and housing committees. Since 1987, he has also been a labor mediator/arbitrator for the State of Wisconsin.


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Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

the cover of Madison, volume 1, is a deep red, with an arial view of historical Madison and a line of portrait of famous Madisonians from the period.

December 2006

LC: 2006024421 F
290 pp. 10 x 10
333 b/w illustrations

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Paper $34.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-21674-0
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“A fascinating ramble through the attic of Madison’s past.”

“More fun than a yearbook”
—The Capital Times

“It’s remarkable how hard Stuart worked. It’s great for the city, and it will be enduring for decades and decades to come.”
—Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin

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Updated July 17, 2013

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