Almost one hundred years ago, on May 3, 1911, Wisconsin Gov. Francis E. McGovern (1911-15) signed America’s first constitutional workers’ compensation law. Wisconsin beat New York in the workers’ compensation race only because the law enacted by the Empire State in 1910 was found unconstitutional.

The 100th anniversary of workers’ compensation will not pass unnoticed. The Workers’ Compensation Centennial Commission (WCCC) was formed earlier this year to celebrate this milestone and to be a resource for those interested in the evolution of workers’ compensation in this country.

As part of its mission, the organization is gathering information on the past, present, and future of workers’ compensation and posting the resource material online. Included in its library is a notice that appeared in the Racine (Wis.) Daily Journal in 1911, describing the outcome of the first official workers’ compensation death claim, filed less than three weeks after the passage of the May 3, 1911, law. The decision, made by the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, marked the first workers’ compensation award in America.

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