The Wisconsin Historical Society Press book, Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, early chronicler of plants, rocks, rivers, mounds and all things Wisconsin, is the 2014 Milwaukee County Historical Society’s Gambrinus Prize winner. The MCHS awards the honor each year for the best book-length contribution to Milwaukee historiography. The award will formally be presented at the Gambrinus Prize Awards Banquet May 18 in Milwaukee.
“Recognition from the historical society in our own city and Increase Lapham’s own city is sweet and significant. We are honored to receive such a prestigious award for our writing and research on the exemplary life of Increase Lapham,” said Martha Bergland, coauthor with Paul G. Hayes of the biography.
The Gambrinus Prize is the second honor bestowed upon “Studying Wisconsin” this month. The Independent Booksellers Association announced the book had received its highest national honor as a Gold Winner in the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards. The book won in the national contest’s Regional Nonfiction category.
The book is also a finalist (Biography) in the Midwest Book Awards along with other Wisconsin Historical Society Press titles, including: Little Hawk and the Lone Wolf (Autobiography/Memoir),Perimeter (Midwest Regional, Illustration), Seventh Generation Earth Ethics (Culture), Blaze Orange (Midwest Regional, Illustration), and Banning DDT (Nature). Winners will be announced May 13, 2015 at the Midwest Book Awards Gala in St. Paul, Minn.
“Studying Wisconsin” explores the remarkable life and achievements of Increase Lapham, the father of the National Weather Service and a self-taught master of botany, geology, archaeology, limnology, mineralogy, engineering, meteorology, and cartography. A prolific writer, his 1844 guide to the territory was the first book published in Wisconsin. A “founding father” figure in the City of Milwaukee, for University of Wisconsin-Madison science programs, and of the Wisconsin Historical Society, Lapham’s ability to observe, understand, and meticulously catalog the natural world marked all of his work, from his days as a teenage surveyor on the Erie Canal to his last great contribution as state geologist.