Norwegians were the earliest and most numerous of the Scandinavian peoples to settle in Wisconsin. In 1840, there were already two sizable communities, Rock Prairie and Jefferson Prairie, in Rock County.In the nineteenth century, ethnicity was a critical element in Wisconsin’s social fabric; more likely than not, ethnicity determined one’s religion, politics, and even such mundane aspects of life as dress or diet. Wisconsin became a favored location for hundreds of thousands of immigrants because it offered abundant, inexpensive land (first in the south and later in the cutover), industrial jobs, and a free political climate. For these immigrants, ethnicity was a key factor in choosing a place to live, as settlers of different ethnicities tended to cluster together. Our speaker, Dr. Michael E. Stevens, Wisconsin State Historian Emeritus, is the author of 15 books and more than 30 articles, including the newly published The Making of Pioneer Wisconsin: Voices of Early Settlers. Stevens worked 26 years at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Since retiring, he continues to research and write history and currently serves on the Fitchburg Landmarks Commission and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.