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Wildlife

Once driven away from the Milwaukee area, whitetail deer have become a more common sight in recent decades. These deer were spotted in Whitnall Park in Greendale.
The history of wildlife in the Milwaukee region is the story of the complex relationships between animals, humans, and the built and natural environments. The region is defined here by the four human-defined counties that encompass the Milwaukee River Basin and its three rivers, the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic. To the east is the shoreline… Read More

William Beck

William Beck was appointed Milwaukee’s first police chief in 1855 after a series of arsons, thefts, and murders. German-born, Beck migrated to New York, serving as a police officer before becoming a farmer in the Town of Granville outside of Milwaukee. He served as a deputy sheriff for two years before beginning an on-again/off-again span… Read More

William George Bruce

Portrait of William George Bruce sitting at his desk during his tenure as president of the Milwaukee Harbor Board of Commissioners between 1920 and 1949.
William George Bruce (1856-1949), a publisher and civic activist from a largely German North Side ward, was born to Augustus F. and Apollonia (Becker) Bruce on March 17, 1856. Bruce’s paternal grandfather had moved to Milwaukee from New York in 1842, four years before cityhood. A hip ailment left young William an invalid at the… Read More

Wisconsin Black Historical Museum

The Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum, located at 2620 West Center Street, is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Milwaukee’s African-American community. Founded in 1987, both the museum and its associated organization—the Wisconsin Black Historical Society—were formed by Clayborn Benson, III. Benson, an experienced video and photo-journalist, created the museum to gather together a… Read More

Wisconsin Center

A 2012 image of the downtown convention facility that began its life as the Midwest Express Center and is now the Wisconsin Center.
Hoping to revitalize downtown Milwaukee, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce spearheaded the drive in the 1990s to replace the outdated convention hall of the MILWAUKEE EXPOSITION CONVENTION CENTER AND ARENA with a larger meeting space. A team of six firms eventually developed the 189,000 square foot Flemish and German-inspired Midwest Express Center, which opened… Read More

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

Photograph of the McInstosh-Goodrich Mansion, home to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Designed in 1904, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Wisconsin Conservatory is among the nation’s oldest community-based arts schools. Founded by William Boeppler, Hugo Kaun, and Dr. Louis Frank in 1899, the institution provides music education to community members, both amateur and professional. While flourishing in the first half of the twentieth century, the conservatory suffered financial problems at mid-century, and again in… Read More

Wisconsin Gas Building

Postcard of the Milwaukee Gas Light Company Building in 1933. Note that its famous gas flame has not been added yet.
Designed by the local ESCHWEILER AND ESCHWEILER architectural firm, the Wisconsin Gas Building (also known as the Milwaukee Gas Light Building) opened in 1930. Located at 626 E. Wisconsin Ave., the Art Deco building originally served as headquarters for the Milwaukee Gas Light Company. It continued to do so through several rounds of corporate restructuring… Read More

Wisconsin Humane Society

Buffy the kitten had been thrown from a moving car before being adopted by Stacey, Sally, and Jim through the Wisconsin Humane Society and given a new lease on life.
When founded in 1879, the Wisconsin Humane Society (WHS) aimed to prevent cruelty to animals, children, criminals, and “defective and dependent people.” In 1880 the society appointed Richard Whitehead its first superintendent and shortly thereafter the state granted the society limited police powers. Although Whitehead vigorously investigated cases of cruelty to horses and livestock until… Read More

Wisconsin Lutheran College

Established in 1973, Wisconsin Lutheran College continues to expand its campus community located on the border of Wauwatosa and Milwaukee.
Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC) was founded in 1973 by a group of Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) members. The college is owned by a corporation of WELS congregations and governed by its Board of Regents. WLC has enjoyed an ever-growing and generally positive relationship with the Milwaukee metro area and the state of Wisconsin. WLC… Read More

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary

Founded in 1863, the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary has been located in Mequon since 1929. Its campus entrance is pictured here in 2007.
The training of pastors is vital to the life and theology of any church body. In the Lutheran tradition, each congregation calls a pastor to be its spiritual supervisor, advisor, and teacher. For more than a century Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary has been training pastors for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod and its worldwide mission and… Read More

Wisconsin Soldiers’ Aid Fair

Photograph of the wooden building constructed for the Wisconsin Soldiers' Aid Fair held in 1865.
Milwaukee was buzzing with activity in late June and July of 1865, as the month-long fair to raise money for the local soldiers’ home packed Main Street with crowds of fairgoers. The event was an extension of work undertaken early in the Civil War by women from the west side of the Milwaukee River who… Read More

Wisconsin State Fair

Eager fair attendees stand at the counter as bakers hold trays filled with cream puffs.
The Wisconsin State Fair is an annual, eleven-day festival that celebrates Wisconsin farming, livestock, and agricultural products. The first Wisconsin State Fair took place in 1851, along the Rock River in Janesville. The fair lasted only two days, and 13,000-18,000 patrons attended the festivities. Over the next forty years the fair moved to various locations… Read More

Wisconsin Visual Artists

Founded in 1900, Wisconsin Visual Artists continues to provide exhibition opportunities for its members around the state today.
Wisconsin Visual Artists (WVA) was formed in 1900 as the Society of Milwaukee Artists. Originally organized by painters and sculptors, the membership came to include visual artists who worked in numerous media. After the formation of the group, the members began to meet in the basement of Milwaukee born-artist Louis Mayer. The Society included numerous… Read More

Woman Suffrage

Members of the Political Equality League are seated in an early model Ford car draped with a banner that reads "Votes for Women."
In the 1840s, when settlers from the East and overseas were pouring into Milwaukee and Wisconsin, women did not have political rights to vote, run for public office, serve on juries, or participate in the formal political system. Advocates, however, of what came to be called the “woman movement” were voicing the first calls to… Read More

Women’s Clubs

This postcard illustrates the Athenaeum Building, located at 813 E. Kilbourn Avenue. It was built in 1887 and paid for by the Woman's Club of Wisconsin, which still has its headquarters in the building today.
The “Woman’s Club Movement” dates from the mid-nineteenth century in the United States, as women expanded earlier more modest organizational efforts, such as reading clubs, sewing circles, and reform groups. Women’s clubs were more permanent organizations, run by women, for their own educational goals, civic improvement, and sociability. In 1890, club leaders from around the… Read More

Woodland Pattern Book Center

A display inside the Woodland Pattern Book Center featuring pamphlets and booklets in 2010.
Woodland Pattern Book Center is Milwaukee’s hub for individuals who are passionate about non-mainstream poetry and literature. Founded by Karl Young, Karl Gartung, and Anne Kingsbury in 1979, it is located on 720 E. Locust Street in the city’s Riverwest neighborhood. It carries over 25,000 volumes, mostly works of avant-garde poetry from independent and small… Read More

Work

1945 photograph of Allis-Chalmers employees assembling WC model tractors in West Allis, highlighting the importance of both heavy manufacturing and agriculture in the Milwaukee area.
“Milwaukee is a workingman’s city,” wrote Frank Flower in his massive 1881 History of Milwaukee. Flower described a community of tradesmen, machinists, and laborers where a typical worker could enjoy, even on wages of a dollar or two a day, “good air, good water, cheap living, and a chance to found a home of his… Read More

Workers’ Movements

A group of workers from the Edwards Motor Company picket with strike signs on Wisconsin Avenue in 1937.
Throughout most of its history, the Milwaukee area has been characterized for its manufacturing and blue collar heritage that molded much of its character. The industrialization that began after the Civil War required the muscles and brains of thousands of working people; to fill the demands of production. Budding entrepreneurs encouraged workers to come to… Read More

Workforce

A group of men work to lay streetcar tracks along N. 8th Street in 1919.
A “workforce,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, encompasses the “People engaged in or available for work, either in a country or region or in a particular company or industry; workers or employees collectively.” For the purposes of this article, therefore, we consider the kinds of work people in the Milwaukee area have done for… Read More

Writers and Writing

Best known for his military career, Charles King was also a prolific writer. Pictured here is the title page of his 1905 novel "A Broken Sword."
Milwaukee is the birthplace of numerous writers and an inspiration for many others. Certain individuals are known primarily for their writing, whereas others made literary contributions in addition to the achievements in other walks of life for which they are best known. Some writers have achieved iconic status in the history of Milwaukee for their… Read More