Leslie A. Bellais

Position title: Lecturer: History 401-002 – Wisconsin 101

Email: lbellais@wisc.edu

Advisor: John Hall
Office: 5265 Mosse Humanities Building
Mailbox: 5087 Mosse Humanities Building
Office Hours: Thursdays 11:00am-1:00pm

Leslie A. Bellais headshot


In January 2019, I retired after 28.5+ years as the Curator of Social History (formerly Curator of Costume & Textiles) at the Wisconsin Historical Society. My primary research interest has been in 19th century women’s clothing, especially underwear. Currently, my broader interest is in midwestern history, especially Wisconsin, with an emphasis on the World War I home front.


M.A., College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA, US History to 1815, museum management training
M.A., University of Wisconsin, US History, material culture minor
B.A., Mary Washington College, Fredericksburg, VA, historic preservation


  • U.S./North American History

MA Title

  • “Bringing Up the Rear: The History and Significance of Late 19th Century Bustles”

Working Dissertation Title

  • “‘Traitor State’: A Crisis of Loyalty in World War I Wisconsin”

Selected Publications

  • Book Chapter: “Lest We Forget”: Remembering World War I in Wisconsin, 1919-1945″ in Home Front in the American Heartland: Local Experiences and Legacies of WWI, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (2020)
  • Magazine Articles, all Wisconsin Magazine of History (available on the Wisconsin Historical Society website: wisconsinhistory.org):
    • “Broken Stars & Silk Dreams: Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin,” Autumn 2020
    • “Wisconsin Women of Style,” Spring 2013
    • “Civil War Memories and Mementos,” Summer 2012
    • “Every Boy a Champion: Madison’s Soap Box Derby Heyday in Photos and Artifacts,” Summer 2011
    • “The Rise and Fall of the Long White Baby Dress,” Spring 2006
    • “Cool Breezes: Handheld Fans in Fashion, Art & Advertising,” Autumn 2004
    • “No Idle Hands: A Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project,” Winter 2000-2001
  • Book Review, The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities by Richard Bushman, Autumn 1994

Professional Affiliations

  • Costume Society of America
  • Midwestern History Association

Courses Taught as TA

  • History 428: The American Military Experience Since 1899
  • HistSci 212: Bodies, Diseases and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine
  • ILS 202: Western Culture: Science, Technology, Philosophy II
  • Political Science 343: Theories of International Security (reader/grader)