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On Wisconsin! as performed by the University of Wisconsin Marching Band.

On Wisconsin sheet music

Badgers! It’s time to brush up on your UW-Madison trivia. On Wisconsin! Learn it. Live it. Love it! 

Did you know:

  • On Wisconsin was composed in 1909 by W.T. Purdy, who had never actually been to Wisconsin. In fact, he wrote the song with the intention of entering it in a $100 contest for a new University of Minnesota song. However, former UW student Carl Beck heard the song, wrote lyrics, and convinced Purdy to sell the song to Wisconsin instead.
  • The song was first performed by the Glee Club on November 10, 1909, and was performed by Purdy at a pep rally on November 13, 1909, prior to the football game against Minnesota.
  • In 1917, Purdy sold his share of the copyright for less than $100.
  • On Wisconsin was made the official state song in 1959.
  • John Philip Sousa called the song “the finest of college marching songs”.
  • In 1915, On Wisconsin was performed in San Francisco at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition World’s Fair.
  • Arthur MacArthur, Jr. used the slogan “On Wisconsin” during the Civil War to lead the 24th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment up Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863, during the Battle of Chattanooga.

For more information about this song or UW-Madison campus history, visit

A special “100 Years of On Wisconsin” collection is also available online.

Posted by Molly Temple for UW Archives.

Filed under On Wisconsin UW-Madison band fight song university music Carl Beck history US history Wisconsin

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    ugh the pride i have
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