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A. Gettelman Brewing Company

Advertisement featuring the A. Gettelman Brewing Company plant.
The A. Gettelman Brewing Company (1856-1961) was one of Milwaukee’s major industrial brewers. Although remaining a mid-sized brewer among the city’s giants, Gettelman was an important innovator of beer packaging and advertising and a significant acquisition in the expansion of the Miller Brewing Company. The Gettelman Brewing Company originated as George Schweickhart’s Menomonee Brewery, established…
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A.O. Smith Corporation

Photograph of the interior of A.O. Smith assembly facilities taken in 1965.
While it is currently recognized as a leader in the production of water heaters, over its history A.O. Smith Corporation has dabbled in a complex inventory of products. Following in his father’s footsteps, company founder Arthur Smith and his successors constantly adapted to market demand and, for the better part of a century, the company…
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African American Churches

1983 photograph of the Lovell Johnson Quality of Life Center on W. Atkinson Avenue, operated by the St. Mark A.M.E. Church. It offers a wide variety of social services to the community.
  In Milwaukee, there is a heavy concentration of African American churches in the northwest corner of the central city, in an area roughly bounded by Locust and Brown streets on the north and south, and 7th and 29th streets on the east and west. The creation of this religious landscape is indelibly linked to…
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African Americans

A group of African American construction workers, along with some Caucasian men, pose for a photograph as they work on Milwaukee's City Hall in 1896.
The African American community in Milwaukee dates from the earliest days of the city’s settlement, though the main story is found in the Great Migration—the mass exodus of black southerners to northern, industrial, urban centers through the twentieth century. The black population in Milwaukee remained very small throughout the nineteenth century and into the World…
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African Methodist Episcopalians

Photograph of a young Ezekiel Gillespie, prominent activist and founder of the AME church in Milwaukee.
Founded in 1869, St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is the oldest historically black congregation in Milwaukee. Originally named the First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Milwaukee, St. Mark remained the largest African American congregation in the region for decades. Church members played significant roles in the Civil Rights movement and leadership of Milwaukee’s…
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African World Festival

A drummer and dancer perform at the first African World Festival held in 1983 on the Summerfest Grounds.
African World Festival celebrated the development of African culture and heritage in Africa as well as the Americas, from the age of the Atlantic slave trade to the modern era. Attendees could learn about African history through performances of traditional African dance, drumming, and storytelling. A replica of an African village was also constructed on…
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African-American Media

Milwaukee has had newspapers and media catering to the Wisconsin black community since the 1890s. From the beginning these media outlets sought to increase both the appeal of Milwaukee as a destination for African Americans and as an avenue of racial progress. In April of 1892, two white men, George A. Brown and Thomas Jones,…
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Agriculture

Surplus hay from local farmers is sold at Market Square (now, appropriately, the Haymarket Square area) to in-town users such as the fire department, milk dairies, and vegetable vendors.
Throughout its history, Milwaukee has gone from manufacturing center for a myriad of products to a “post-industrial” city struggling to adapt to the realities of deindustrialization. Often overlooked in such a narrative is the role that agriculture has played in the development of the city and the broader metropolitan region. For more than 150 years,…
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Airports and Air Transportation

Aviator Charles K. Hamilton landed the first airplane in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin State Fair in 1906.
Since the early 1900s, airports have served as a site for recreation, commercial travel, and the transportation of goods. Today, General Mitchell International dominates Milwaukee air travel, but other small airports serve the area as well. The first flight in Milwaukee is believed to have been made at the Wisconsin State Fair on September 10,…
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Alexander Mitchell

Portrait of Alexander Mitchell, 1817-1887.
Milwaukee’s leading financier and railroad magnate in the mid-nineteenth century, Alexander Mitchell was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on October 18, 1817. Twenty-two years later, he immigrated to the U.S., settling in Chicago. That same year, Mitchell moved to Milwaukee to serve as secretary for a marine and fire insurance company owned by a fellow Scotsman,…
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Allan Huber “Bud” Selig

Allan Huber “Bud” Selig began serving as Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1992, but his baseball roots were established in Milwaukee decades earlier. Born in Milwaukee on July 30, 1934, Selig grew up watching the minor league Milwaukee Brewers at Borchert Field. After graduating from UW-Madison and serving in the U.S. Army for two…
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Allen-Bradley (Rockwell Automation)

The Allen-Bradley Company building towers behind a row of residential homes in this 1974 photograph. Today the company is part of Rockwell Automation.
Founded by Lynde Bradley in 1903 with the financial backing of investor Dr. Stanton Allen, what became the Allen-Bradley Company has served the Milwaukee community for over one hundred years, specializing in the design and manufacturing of various electrical products. During the twentieth century Lynde and his brother Harry built the company into one of…
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Allen-Bradley Clock Tower

The Allen-Bradley clock, also known as Milwaukee's Polish Moon, glows in this photograph from the summer of 1963.
The Allen-Bradley Clock Tower is a four-sided clock that sits on top of the ALLEN-BRADLEY Building (now Rockwell Automation) on the South Side of Milwaukee. Local ARCHITECT Fitzhugh Scott designed the tower. The clockworks were built by Allen-Bradley, which specialized in electrical controls, while the clock faces were created by Super Sky Products in MEQUON.…
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Alleys

A 1970 photograph of an alley near Park Place and Bartlett Avenue showing parked automobiles and utility wires.
Alleys have been part of the infrastructure of the City of Milwaukee and several of its surrounding towns from their founding. The 1846 Charter of the City of Milwaukee gave it authority “to lay out new highways, streets, alleys[,] and public walks.” Milwaukee developed a grid pattern of city streets already common in other eastern…
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Allis-Chalmers Corporation

Photograph of an Allis-Chalmers work bay taken in 1930.
Operating from 1847 to 1999, the Allis-Chalmers Corporation was one of Milwaukee’s key manufacturing giants and for a time the city’s largest employer, producing what one historian describes as “the ‘big stuff’ for America’s expanding urban and industrial markets.” Allis-Chalmers originated in James Seville and Charles Decker’s Reliance Works, a pioneer iron foundry and machine…
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Alternative Medicine

Located in Waukesha, Bethesda Springs was a popular destination for people seeking to try hydropathy as a cure for their ailments.
The history of alternative medicine in Milwaukee and elsewhere is intrinsically linked to the practice of mainstream medicine. Early medicine in Milwaukee was often a gruesome affair, with bleedings and purges that offered little in the way of relief. The horrors and inadequacies of these treatments bred public distrust in the mainstream medical community. Alternative…
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Alverno College

In November 1963, this group of Alverno College students attended a Student Leadership Conference on Race and Religion.
Alverno College, a Catholic women’s liberal arts college on Milwaukee’s South Side, is most recognized for its role as an international leader in non-graded, ability-based education. That distinction is closely tied to its founding order, the School Sisters of St. Francis (SSSF), and this order’s dedication to the education of all women across Milwaukee. Alverno…
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Amateur Sports

Group photograph of the Maple Leaf amateur football team, champions of the 1914 Milwaukee League.
Participation in amateur organized sports, played for fun or pride, has long been a staple of both recreation and entertainment in Milwaukee. The first formal organized amateur sports clubs in the city were cricket teams. Then-congressman Abraham Lincoln reportedly watched a Milwaukee cricket team play a Chicago club in 1849. By 1852, newspapers were carrying…
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America’s Black Holocaust Museum

America’s Black Holocaust Museum is a one-of-its kind institution dedicated to documenting the history of violence against African-Americans. It was founded on Juneteenth Day, 1988, by Dr. James Cameron, who as a teenager in 1930 narrowly escaped being lynched in Marion, Indiana. The museum initially was located at 317 West Wright Street, but later moved…
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American Indian Movement

In August 1971, members of the American Indian Movement in Milwaukee occupied an abandoned Coast Guard station along the lakefront, pictured here. It became the first site of the Indian Community School.
On August 14, 1971, Native American activists in Milwaukee staged a takeover of an abandoned Coast Guard station along the lakefront (at 1600 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive). Inspired by the Alcatraz occupation of 1969, these local members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) demanded, according to the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, that abandoned…
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