Home / Arts / Books / Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, Early Chronicler of Plants, Rocks, Rivers, Mounds and All Things Wisconsin (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), by Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes
Friday, June 6, 2014

Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, Early Chronicler of Plants, Rocks, Rivers, Mounds and All Things Wisconsin (Wisconsin Historical Society Press), by Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes

Google+ Pinterest Print
His name says it all: Increase Lapham was determined to increase human knowledge and understanding and devoted his life to those tasks. The first biography of this important figure in local history follows Lapham from his Quaker roots in New York through his move to the Wisconsin Territory in 1836 and his death in 1875.

 

Life was eventful during the 40 years this self-taught Renaissance man dwelled in Wisconsin. Lapham studied and categorized the new state’s natural terrain, mapped its geography and examined its prehistory (especially the Indian mounds). Not just a joiner but a founder, Lapham established such enduring institutions as the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, founded schools for boys and girls and led the way toward the Milwaukee Public Museum and the city’s public library system. His concern with the meteorology of the Great Lakes helped spur the U.S. Weather Bureau. As a charter employee of that agency, he is credited with issuing America’s first weather forecast.

 

He also had his eye on the future beyond the next storm or shower, worrying about the reckless depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the environment.

 

Martha Begland and Paul Hayes will discuss Studying Wisconsin, 7 p.m. June 11 at Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust St.