100 Years of “On, Wisconsin!”

Original "On Wisconsin" sheet music
Original “On Wisconsin” sheet music

At few other universities is the history of the state as deeply entangled with the history of the institution as it is at the University of Wisconsin.

Traditions of the University often transcend the bounds of the campus and extend to the state as a whole, in fulfillment of the “Wisconsin Idea.”

In 2009, we celebrated the centennial of one of these traditions. The song “On, Wisconsin!” is instantly identifiable. Though introduced as a football fight song in 1909, the tune with altered lyrics was adopted as the official Wisconsin state song in 1959.

We invite you to continue “Forward!” and learn the history of the tune that the “March King” himself, John Phillip Sousa, called “the finest college marching song ever written” and “the most stirring, enthusiastic college melody I have ever heard.”

Compiled by Tyler C. Kennedy & David Null.

All photographs from the University Archives or the University Communications Photo Library.