Wisconsin State Law Library

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November 27, 2019

County Highway History

A recent article from WPR answers the question, Why are Wisconsin's county highways lettered and not numbered?

It's a great article, but we thought we'd add to it by linking to some other sources. Did you know you can read many of Wisconsin's historical laws online?

1911 Wisconsin Act 337 created the State Highway Commission, which is credited for creating a uniform system of highways in the state. In 1917, the legislature created the state trunk highway system with 1917 Wisconsin Act 175. A county trunk system was set up with 1925 Wisconsin Act 263, although according to various sources (e.g. this summary from Wisconsin Highways) a system was already established between counties prior to the legislature passing a law.

For a thorough historical overview, read A history of Wisconsin highway development, 1835-1945. This book has been digitized with the help of libraries and is available to read online.

Read A history of Wisconsin highway development, 1835-1945
This book provides a historical survey of roads from Wisconsin's territorial days up through 1945, and maps, photos, and figures complement the report. You can read more about the creation of the county trunk highway system as well.
"In 1921, a movement developed wherin the county boards determined to restrict the improvement of the County Systems of Prospective State Highways to certain preferred roads, and many county boards laid out county Trunk Highway Systems without legislative authorization to establish such systems. In many cases the county boards determined to patrol only certain roads, and in other cases the boards assumed greater responsibility. Some roads designated county trunk highways by the county boards were not officially approved portions of the County Systems of Prospective State Highways. By 1924, every county in the state had laid out such a system, with the effect that each county had assumed responsibility for a system of preferred highways composed in general of portions of the County Systems of Prospective State Highways, which totaled approximately 11,000 miles." - page 58 (p. 90 of the file) of A history of Wisconsin highway development, 1835-1945

November 22, 2019

Thanksgiving holiday closures

All three library locations will be closed on Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 28. The Dane County Law Library and the Milwaukee County Law Library will remain closed on Friday, November 29. The David T. Prosser Jr. State Law Library will be open on Friday, November 29th.

Call the Reference Desk at 608-267-9696 and leave a voicemail, or Ask a Librarian online while we are closed. We will respond to you the next business day.

November 19, 2019

New Wisconsin Briefs Database

For several years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has hosted an archive of Supreme Court and Court of Appeals briefs on their website. The Wisconsin Briefs database houses more than 100,000 appellate briefs and appendices filed in cases that were decided from around 1992-2009. The Wisconsin State Law Library scanned and compiled the original database, and partners with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law Library which hosts this database online.

This fall, the UW Law Library finished moving their briefs database to a new website, the UW Law Library Digital Repository collections. The new Wisconsin Briefs repository works similar to the old site. 

Researchers can search by the case citation or docket number. Follow the format of the search examples when doing a search. Click on an item in the search results list to see more details, and select the image or "Click to View" text to read or download the brief. 

Did you know that we maintain a Wisconsin appellate briefs archive that dates back to the inception of the Supreme Court in 1839? Learn more about the complete Wisconsin briefs archive on our website. 

November 12, 2019

New Lavinia Goodell Site a Testament to Her Legacy

Lavinia Goodell became Wisconsin's first woman lawyer in 1879, but her legacy is often obscured in history books. Supreme Court Commissioner Nancy Kopp and Attorney Colleen Ball want to change that. They spent the last year researching the life of Goodell and have created a website to share Lavinia's history with the world. http://www.laviniagoodell.com is an online biography, accessible to all, which will chronicle Lavinia's life and her contribution to the practice of law in Wisconsin.

In their introduction, they note:

"The first woman lawyer admitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court had to fight for that status, overcoming opposition from the most powerful legal figure in the state. Lavinia Goodell (1839-1880) was also one of the first female trial lawyers in the United States, a nationally-respected writer, a Vice President of the Association for the Advancement of Woman, a candidate for Janesville City Attorney, a successful lobbyist, a jail reformer, and a temperance advocate. "

Turn to this site for an introduction to Lavinia Goodell's history, and revisit often as more articles are added. Follow the blog, or keep up on Twitter or Facebook for updates.

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