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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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Cardinal Stritch University

Cardinal Stritch University experienced significant growth and expansion toward the end of the 20th century. This modern aerial photograph provides a view of campus from the east.
Since 1937 Cardinal Stritch University has been dedicated to offering a liberal arts education and providing for the underserved. Stritch’s story began in the depths of the Great Depression when Milwaukee Archbishop Samuel A. Stritch urged the city’s women’s religious communities to establish teacher training schools for the nuns within their orders. The Sisters of…
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Carroll University

This photograph provides a view of Carroll University as it looked from the southeast in 1967, when it was still known as Carroll College.
Founded by territorial charter in 1846 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Carroll College grew out of the then five-year-old Prairieville Academy, a preparatory program to fit young men for entry into the state university or eastern colleges. Carroll’s official charter, signed on January 31, 1846 by Territorial Governor Henry Dodge (two days before he signed the Beloit…
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Charter Schools

One of Milwaukee's area charter schools, students at Tenor High School on N. Jackson Street can take classes through MATC for college credit.
The concept of a public charter school emerged as a response to calls for public school reform, with the first charter school law in the United States passed in 1991 and the first school charter awarded in 1992 in Minnesota. Since then, more than forty states and the District of Columbia have established charter school…
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Educational Segregation and Desegregation

A woman and small child carry signs calling for the end of Milwaukee school segregation in 1964.
The Milwaukee metropolitan area is often classified as the most racially segregated metropolitan area in the United States. This segregated residence pattern resulted in racially segregated schools in the Milwaukee area. African Americans began to settle in Milwaukee increasingly after 1900. Most rented homes in a nine-square block area north of downtown. They were employed…
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Indian Community School

In 1970, three Oneida women—Marjorie (Powless) Stevens, Marge Funmaker, and Darlene Neconish—took it upon themselves to offer an alternative education for disillusioned Native youth in Milwaukee. Born of their frustrations with the public school system, discrimination against Native American students, and a lack of cultural direction, the Oneida women opened their homes to indigenous children…
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Kindergarten Education

Kindergarten class at Henry Clay School, located in Whitefish Bay, in 1952.
Kindergarten is a preschool education approach designed to transition children from home to school. “Kindergarten” is a German word that means “garden for the children.” It traditionally emphasized learning through playing, singing, drawing, and social interaction. The first kindergarten was established in Blankenburg, Germany, in the late 1830s. In America kindergartens usually enroll five-year-old children,…
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Marquette University

Photograph overlooking the Marquette campus in spring 2007. The Alumni Memorial Union is seen at center.
John Martin Henni, the first Catholic bishop of Milwaukee, came to his adopted city in 1843 with several ambitions. Among them, he wanted to open a college. The biggest difficulty with this part of his plan was the absence of an intellectual culture in Milwaukee conducive to such an enterprise. The village—Milwaukee was not even…
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Medical College of Wisconsin

An aerial view of the Medical College of Wisconsin's Milwaukee campus as seen in 2018.
The Medical College of Wisconsin has its origins in private, for-profit Milwaukee medical colleges that opened in the late 1800s. One of these enterprises, the Milwaukee Medical College, became affiliated (educationally, though not financially) with Marquette College in 1907. Five years later, a group of local physicians urged the University to strengthen its oversight and…
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Milwaukee Area Technical College

As Milwaukee Area Technical College enters its second century as one of the Midwest’s largest two-year technical colleges, constant updates and changes continue to be the hallmark of the school, echoing the words of Robert L. Cooley, the institution’s founder, who proclaimed in 1912 that “the needs of the students shall determine the curriculum.” The…
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Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

Founded in 1974, the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD), a successor college to the well-respected Layton School of Art, has become an academic anchor in the city’s redevelopment of its Historic Third Ward, once a gritty manufacturing district. MIAD’s academic enterprise offers a career-oriented education in the arts that focuses on the needs…
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Milwaukee Public Schools

South Division High School was a landmark on Lapham Street from 1893 until its demolition in 1978. The school's signature domed cupola now serves as the roof over the entrance to Bluemel's Garden Center in Greenfield.
During most of the twentieth century, the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) fashioned a record of accomplishments of which most Milwaukeeans were proud. Over the last third of the century, demographic and economic changes produced daunting problems that weakened public trust and resulted in an educational landscape quite different from that of 1950. Creating a Public…
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Milwaukee School of Engineering

MSOE’s Grohmann Museum, fittingly, celebrates the evolution of work, both inside with its art collection and outside along the edge of its roofline.
The Milwaukee School of Engineering began as a technical institute in the fall of 1903. Its founder, Oscar Werwath, had arrived in Milwaukee from Germany only months earlier and immediately found work as an electrical engineer at the newly-merged Allis-Chalmers Company, under the guidance of Louis Allis. Milwaukee’s population was more than a third of…
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Milwaukee-Downer College and Seminary

Milwaukee-Downer College graduates gather outside to plant a tree as part of the commencement ceremony in 1922 .
Milwaukee-Downer College and Seminary represent some of the earliest attempts at women’s education in Wisconsin. Milwaukee Female Seminary, one of Milwaukee-Downer’s predecessor institutions, was founded in 1848 by Lucy Parsons, a progressive advocate for female education from New York. The school’s board of trustees drew representatives from Milwaukee’s prominent families, including Increase Lapham. Parsons’ connections…
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Montessori Schools

One of the eight public Montessori schools in the metro Milwaukee area, Craig Montessori School is located on W. Congress Street.
The term Montessori refers to the educational method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952). Montessori, an Italian physician, gained world-wide recognition for an academically focused program meeting “the needs of the young child” through multi-aged groupings, constructivist curriculum, and hands-on materials. A Montessori classroom is ideally an exploratory environment with young students developing self-chosen skills…
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Mount Mary University

Although its origins date back to 1872, Mount Mary University first opened its Milwaukee campus in 1929 and continues to educated students today.
Mount Mary University is a private women’s university located on the northwest side of the city of Milwaukee, directed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), a Catholic order of nuns dedicated to the principle of transformative education for women. Over its one hundred years, Mount Mary has committed itself to educating young women…
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Peace Education

Posted outside of UWM's Kimberly Hall, the students and faculty of the School of Education condemn the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in 1970.
Peace education provides the opportunity to examine values and attitudes, acquire knowledge, and develop skills useful for understanding wars and violence and promoting a culture of peace and global understanding. Anti-war education shaped the Civil War era, and continues today: people protested against slavery and war during the Civil War; German settlers pled for neutrality…
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Public Education

Kindergarten students are gathered together for a group photograph at Cumberland School in 1946. Today, Cumberland Elementary School is part of the Whitefish Bay School District.
Public education is the system in which states and localities own and operate schools. These schools are paid for at public expense and are open to all children in a school district or community. Each district is governed by an elected school board. The school board sets broad policies, appoints a superintendent and other administrators,…
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Special Schools

Opened in 1939 as a school for children with polio, Gaenslen School continues to serve students with special education needs.
Perspectives on disabilities and how to incorporate individuals with disabilities into mainstream society have evolved over the past couple of centuries. People with disabilities were viewed as less than human and treated as such. The views of individuals with disabilities in the 1800s reflected the assessment of value and worth in society. For example, people…
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St. Francis de Sales Seminary

Photograph of Henni Hall, the main building of St. Francis de Sales Seminary, dedicated in 1856.
This institution is the major training facility for Roman Catholic priests who serve in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It also forms young clergy who serve in other parts of Wisconsin and sections of the Midwest. Moreover, some of its graduates are found in Rome and Africa. Although it currently does not support an accredited academic…
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