PART I. 1902 – 1929: Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Mildred Fish Harnack

1902: Beginnings

Mildred Fish Harnack was born on September 16, 1902 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 5:30am to Georgina and William Fish. The birth certificate found on microfilm at the Milwakee Public Library has her name written in as Matie, with no middle name, instead of Mildred Elizabeth. The birth itself was officially registered a month later (not uncommon in those days), which explains the October 31, 1902 date stamped on the document.

[Microfilm: photocopy] Microfilm #130 R929.3-M661R c001, Milwaukee County (Wis.) Registrar of Deeds/Registrar of Births, vol. 345-347, 1902.   Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI

Harnack’s Birth Certificate

[Microfilm: photocopy] Microfilm #130 R929.3-M661R c001, Milwaukee County (Wis.) Registrar of Deeds/Registrar of Births, vol. 345-347, 1902. Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1921: Back in Wisconsin

Mildred Fish was born and raised in Wisconsin. She attended West High school in Milwaukee, but finished up her last year in Washington D.C. at Western High School. It was not until she made the transfer to the University of Wisconsin – Madison after her first year at George Washington University, that she once again resided in her native Wisconsin.

The documents displayed below are credit transfer requests, filled out in 1921, in order to continue her studies at the UW (Madison).

credit transfer request

credits transfer request

credits estimate

credits estimate

credits awarded

credits awarded

Part of Mildred’s admission documentation contained a letter asking the University to waive the out-of-state tuition fee. In the letter, residency status is asked for based on the fact that her mother had kept their house in Milwaukee even after moving to Washington D.C., therefore in retaining residency in Wisconsin. Mildred’s admission document to the University of Wisconsin for the 1921-1922 is also displayed.

UW admission

UW admission

uw non-resident waiver

UW non-resident waiver

1922-1924: Wisconsin Literary Magazine

The Wisconsin Literary Magazine was a forum for UW (Madison) students to publish writings. It provided a chance to become active in the editing and publishing of a student-run literary journal. Mildred Fish made contributions to the magazine both as a writer and an Assistant editor. The documents displayed here represent Mildred’s work, published in volume 22 and 23 of The Wisconsin Literary Magazine.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  22:3 (December): 72.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 22:3 (December): 72.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 22:3 (December): 88.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 22:3 (December): 88.

This short story, titled “Gold and Silver”, was published in the February 1923 issue of The Wisconsin Literary Magazine.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  22:4 (February): 112-113.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 22:4 (February): 112-113.

In this volume (June 1923, volume 22), Mildred Fish is both assistant editor and contributor to the magazine. The editor’s commentary lambastes the loss or sellout of college literary magazines and ends with a curious list of “literary Who’s Who”, which includes Mildred as “The arch laughter of a Y.W. secretary at a Blackhand soiree”.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  22:7 (June): 191-192.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 22:7 (June): 191-192.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  22:7 (June): 203.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 22:7 (June): 203.

In the October 1923 issue, Mildred wrote and submitted short stories and poems as well as participating, once again, as an assistant editor. The photo was taken during this same period.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  23:1 (October): 3.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 23:1 (October): 3.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  23:1 (October): 19.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 23:1 (October): 19.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  23:1 (October): 25.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 23:1 (October): 25.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  23:1 (October): table of contents.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 23:1 (October)

MIldred Fish Harnack, 1923. UW (Madison). #UW.MFH0021

MIldred Fish Harnack, 1923. UW (Madison). #MFH0021

Wisconsin Literary Magazine  23:1 (October): 10.

Wisconsin Literary Magazine 23:1 (October): 10.

1921-1925: UW (Madison) life

Besides being involved in a group called the “Friday-nighters”, she was a member of the French club (1924 Badger Yearbook). She became friends with Clara Leiser, who would later head the unsuccessful fight for a memorial to Mildred, as well as begin a poem in salute to Mildred and Arvid Harnack which has remained unfinished to this day.

[Photograph] Clara Leiser, (year unknown)

Clara Leiser, (year unknown)

French Club yearbook picture: Mildred Fish (top row, second from right) Badger Yearbook  1924, page 548.

French Club: Mildred Fish
(top row, second from right) Badger Yearbook 1924, 548.

College of Letters and Science yearbook picture: Mildred Fish (second row, second from right) Badger Yearbook  1925, page 55.

College of Letters and Science: Mildred Fish (second row, second from right) Badger Yearbook 1925, 55.

1926-1927: Lifestyle changes

After Mildred graduated in 1925, she applied and was accepted into the University of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Letters and Science. During her graduate studies, she taught literature at the University. Shown here are her UW (Madison) employment records, as well as those of her future husband, Arvid Harnack.

UW graduate school

UW graduate school

UW employment records

UW employment records

During her time at UW-Madison, Mildred met, fell in love with, and married Arvid Harnack, a German man on fellowship at the University. The photo, taken in more recent years, shows the house in which the Harnacks lived while working at the University between the years of 1926 and 1927.

Mildred Fish (1926)

Mildred Fish (1926)

The Harnack's Home in Madison, Wisconsin, 1926 - 1927

The Harnack’s Home
in Madison, Wisconsin,
1926 – 1927

Arvid Harnack (year unknown)

Arvid Harnack (year unknown)

PART II. 1929 – 1943: Germany