Pulitzer Prize Centennial

Happy 100th anniversary to the Pulitzer Prize!

We are celebrating with a handful of special programs to recognize Wisconsin’s unique winners and to encourage our next generation of writers.


Thornton Wilder, Edna Ferber, Zona Gale, Hamlin Garland, and Frederick Jackson Turner of Wisconsin are all past winners of the Pulitzer Prize. Wisconsin Life producer Erika Janik shares their stories as part of this special radio series on Wisconsin Public Radio to accompany her essay On Remembering.

Edna Ferber

Wisconsin Life radio essay produced by Erika Janik

Wisconsin connection: Graduated from high school and attended Lawrence University in Appleton 

Age when she won the Pulitzer for fiction: 39

Winning Title: So Big

Why read it now? The book broke all sorts of taboos in the 1920s and still today you’ll be drawn into the life of  Selina Peake De Jong, a woman who maintains her appreciation for art and beauty over money even as she lives a back-breaking life of poverty. 

Hamlin Garland

Wisconsin Life radio essay produced by Erika Janik

Wisconsin connection: Born in West Salem

Age when he won the Pulitzer for biography/autobiography: 62

Winning Title: A Daughter of the Middle Border

Why read it now? If you have ever felt like, as a Midwesterner, you are misunderstood, then you will appreciate the way Garland portrays this timeless identity struggle to a national audience. Have things changed that much?

Thornton Wilder

Wisconsin Life radio essay produced by Erika Janik

Wisconsin connection: Born in West Salem

Ages when he won his Pulitzer Prizes: 30, 41, & 45

Winning Titles: The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Fiction 1928), Our Town (Drama 1938), The Skin of Our Teeth (Drama 1943)

Why read them now? This classic still sparks deeply personal and philosophical debates. The question raised is timeless: Is our fate random or planned by a higher power? Read a book review from our former board member Steve Myck here if you still need convincing.

Zona Gale
Frederick Jackson Turner

Wisconsin Life radio essay produced by Erika Janik

Wisconsin connection: Born in Portage

Age when he won the Pulitzer in history: 72

Winning Title: The Significance of Sections in American History

Why read it now? As we struggle with ideas of The Other and what distinguishes us as Americans, Frederick Jackson Turner’s influential work provides the history and thesis that defined what is now understood to be the unique and rugged American identity.

Celebrating Excellence in Wisconsin

Joseph Pulitzer was an American journalist whose standards for excellence established him among his peers in the late 19th century. Not only a pioneering  newspaper editor and publisher, he was also an advocate for university-level training for journalists, and a visionary whose legacy has endowed the professions of journalism, photography, literature, poetry, music, and drama for the last century. The Pulitzer Prize Board annually awards 21 prizes for excellence.

The WHC’s Pulitzer Centennial projects were funded with a generous award from the Pulitzer Prize Board to raise awareness of the state’s past and present journalistic and literary stars, and their accomplishments.

Journalists in the Community

Kathleen Gallagher, Mark Johnson, Gary Porter and Allison Sherwood are sharing their stories as presenters for our ShopTalk program. This team of journalists won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a story called ‘One In A Billion: A boy’s life, a medical mystery.’ They are giving free talks throughout the year.

Thoughts On Excellence & Writing

In these two special issues of our print publication, you’ll find special essays by two of Wisconsin’s finest journalists, David Maraniss and Erika Janik. On Excellence and On Remembering point to the vagaries of our collective cultural memory and the unchanging values for which the Pulitzer Prize stands.

Public Service Reporting Training for High School Students

High School journalists at 50 schools in northeast Wisconsin are spending the year studying Pulitzer Prize-winning news stories and writing their own stories on a related local topic. Three student stories will be chosen for cash awards from Northeast Wisconsin Scholastic Press Association (NEWSPA), the project co-sponsor and creator of the new high school journalism curriculum.


This program is part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative, a joint venture of the Pulitzer Prizes Board and the Federation of State Humanities Council in celebration of the centennial of the Prizes. The initiative seeks to illuminate the impact of journalism and the humanities on American life today, to imagine their future and to inspire new generations to consider the values represented by the body of Pulitzer Prize-winning work.