Newspaper Highlights: Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois and Iowa!

This month we’re excited to highlight a few of our papers by publisher Lee Enterprises. If you have roots in Wisconsin, North Dakota, or the quad cities of northwest Illinois and southeast Iowa, these newspaper archives are a valuable resource!

Special Midnight Fire Edition - October 16, 1908
Wisconsin State Journal: In 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state. That same year, printer turned publisher David Atwood purchased a small paper called the Wisconsin Express that would later become the Wisconsin State Journal. We have issues of the State Journal dating back to 1852! The State Journal has chronicled news, births, deaths, anniversaries and community news from the greater Madison area for more than 175 years!

One story that shocked the nation happened in 1914. Noted architect and Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright built his famous home Taliesin outside Madison in Spring Green. The home was the scene of a brutal mass murder when a deranged servant murdered Wright’s companion Mamah Borthwick, her two children, and four others at Taliesin by setting fire to the house and then killing the occupants with an ax as they tried to escape.

Bismarck Tribune: In the 1870s, railroads were given land grants to expand the rail system into the Dakota territory. In June 1873, the first train rolled into Bismarck carrying a hand-set press. Within a month, the first edition of the Bismarck Tribune was published. In this introduction in the first issue, the paper urged citizens to support it and help bring prosperity to the tiny settlement. The Bismarck Tribune is the oldest paper still published in North Dakota. It advocated for the relocation of the Territorial Capital from Yankton to Bismarck, and then lobbied aggressively for statehood. The paper recorded notable events like the fire of 1898 when flames raced through downtown buildings constructed of wood; or the floods in 1952 when snowmelt and ice backed up causing major damage in the city.

The Rock Island Argus and The Dispatch: The archives for these two papers (that later combined to form the Dispatch-Argus) are a great resource for anyone with roots along the Mississippi River in the quad cities of Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline, Illinois; and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa. The Rock Island Argus gets its name from the largest island in the Mississippi River (now known as Arsenal Island) and is one of Illinois’ oldest papers. We have issues that date back to 1855, about the time the railroad expanded to the island. This clipping from 1859, urges residents to play an active role in bringing industry to town. The island housed a fort, and later an arsenal, and was a hub of activity during the World Wars. Clippings like this one from 1863 listing citizens who have a letter to claim at the Post Office are a great way to research ancestors who lived on Rock Island.

A few miles from Rock Island lies Moline, Illinois – home to The Dispatch with papers dating back to 1894. The paper recorded the dramatic fire that ignited in the psychiatric ward of Mercy Hospital, known as St. Elizabeth’s, in 1950. Frantic patients trapped behind windows locked shut by rusty bars fought to escape. Before it was over, 41 lost their lives.

To see these newspapers and other titles, search our archives at!

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15 thoughts on “Newspaper Highlights: Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois and Iowa!

  1. I can’t call up the Bradenton Herald, also the Evening Herald early on, do you not gave it, and will you be able to get it?

  2. I’m sorry Nancy, we don’t have either of those papers. We are always adding more content, so hopefully in the future!

  3. I would like to speak to someone about our libraries old newspapers on microfilm being uploaded to

    Do you have a phone number and name of a person to whom I could speak?

    Cass District Library
    Local History Branch
    319 M-62
    Cassopolis, MI

  4. Are you going to have San Diego and San Diego papers? Maybe early 1900’s??

  5. Are all of your “new” offerings going to continue to be visible and available only if an additional annual fee from the one paid through the world explorer pkg. purchased through is agreed upon?

  6. Hoping you will get more of the Peoria Illinois papers and
    would love the paper from Chillicothe, Illinois.

  7. I always find it fascinating and enlightening to read the news accounts given in local papers from the past. Talk about gossip! But it truly shows the comings and goings of people of the past. It also can make sense of the family stories handed down from generation to generation. Stories about a dead man coming to life and going crazy at the internet’s parlor before embalming, family “riches” stolen by the Catholic church, and other such family rumors, can either be confirmed or disproved. The dead man story was true. He was judged insane and sent to the state mental hospital in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The family’s riches? No. I wonder how many rounds of Irish whiskey it took to turn $7.00 into $7,000,000. And the kicker was that the man who left the $7.00 wasn’t a family member! He was a stranger who was taken in to a friend of the family’s home. But it was interesting to see how the rumor was added to the reasons why part of my left the Catholic church. The real reason was because my Grandmother eloped with a Protestant and refused to have her kids baptized by the church.

  8. I hate the automatic spell check on my Kindle. Internet parlor was supposed to read undertaker’s parlor. It makes a person look uneducated at times.

  9. So many of us are anxious for specific newspapers to be added on (me included)! The best way to get your paper on the list is to send us a message at We keep a catalog of all of your requests and do what we can to honor them. If you can do a little legwork that helps too (Is there an archive? Has the collection been digitized? Where are the archives located, etc.) I think we’ll do an upcoming blog post with more details on how the process works. Thanks for your patience!

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