WISCONSIN 1900–WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP. The Economist language I just quoted is fanciful because we think–at least, I think–of Southern Ontario as a nice area where the people are nice. I think people idealize as well the American Midwest in about 1900. It was a shock when Michael Lesy published WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP in 1973. Lesy juxtaposed photographs from a Wisconsin town with newspaper stories from the same time period. The newspaper stories described tragedies and crimes. Diphtheria was a terrible killer. There was a wave of barn burnings. Here is a wikipedia article about the book and a film based on the book (narrated by Ian Holm). Here is a slide show about the book with a caution that “Photos of children in coffins–along with text chronicling murder, insanity, disease, and suicide–can be shocking to a 21st century audience.” The book and the slide show are heart-rending.

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  1. Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    We had a book of photos called Wisconsin Death Trip. When we had children, we got rid of it, not wanting them to come across it accidentally and have a horrible, permanent shock.

  2. Elmer says:

    When Wisconsin Death Trip, I mischievously gave a copy to my father, who grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin,. He skimmed through it and said, “That is the way it was. A lot of things like this happened.”

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