Intellectual currents at UW-Madison gave rise to two prominent “Wisconsin Schools” of thought—and action—in the twentieth century.
The first “Wisconsin School”—of labor history and industrial relations more generally—coalesced in the 1920s and 1930s, centered around John R. Commons. An institutional economist who had studied with Richard T. Ely at Johns Hopkins, he is widely credited with a raft of progressive Wisconsin and New Deal legislation.
Deeply steeped in history, Commons and his colleagues published a foundational, ten-volume collection entitled A Documentary History of American Industrial Society (1910-1911, vol. 1), followed by a four-volume History of Labour in the United States (1918-1935, vol. 1).
The Wisconsin Historical Society’s collections relating to labor history are simply unparalled.
Source: John R. Commons, 1862-1945: The Spiritual Father of Social Security, WHS