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Alternative Medicine

Wide shot of a portion of Bethesda Springs featuring a small pond at the image's center. A landscaping plant is placed on an island in the middle of the water body. Inscribed on the grass by the pond is "1868-Bethesda." A gazebo with a domed roof stands at the right back of the pond. Tall trees surround the area and hide a grand building in the right background.
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… Read More

Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital

High-angle long shot of Columbia and St. Mary's Hospital complex between a number of other buildings and the iconic North Point Water Tower. This image shows the hospital's height and unique structure with mostly white exterior walls. The old logo of the Columbia and St. Mary's Hospital is visible on top right corner of the building.
Columbia St. Mary’s is really the history of two institutions: the Catholic St. Mary’s, Wisconsin’s first hospital, and Columbia, a non-sectarian hospital focused on research and teaching. Their developments reflected the maturation of the health care industry, including the search for cost savings in the 1980s and 90s that brought them together under one roof… Read More

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Long shot of the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's facade. The image shows its new eleven-story structure. The hospital's logo and name sign sit on the building's top front.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin traces its history from a little house on Brady Street offering free pediatric care in the late nineteenth century to its current manifestation on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa, where it is part of the Regional Medical Center. Unique among the state’s hospitals with its exclusive focus on child care, Children’s… Read More

Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center

Aerial shot of Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center and its surrounding area partly covered by snow. The tall structure of the building stands out among other buildings in the neighborhood. Glowing in the distance is the name sign of the building that appears above a large American flag.
The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center is the direct descendant of the Northwestern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS), established by Congress in 1865 to care for Union soldiers who had suffered disabling wounds or illnesses due to their service in the Civil War. The home was funded partly by… Read More


Medium shot of Barbara Franke ladling boiled water from a stock pot into a pitcher inside Miss Katie's Diner's kitchen. She wears glasses standing next to a stove with two stock pots on it. Steam rises from the pitcher.
In the spring of 1993, approximately 400,000 people fell victim to what Milwaukeeans have since referred to as “Crypto.” At least sixty-nine people—mostly people suffering from AIDS—died in this Cryptosporidium outbreak, which would become the country’s largest waterborne disease epidemic on record. These numbers do not include those who visited Milwaukee and drank the water… Read More


Postcard illustrating the Sacred Heart Sanitarium grand facade. The four-story building features a tower with a pyramidal roof on its central structure. A cross is set atop the red-colored roof.
For much of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, care for mentally or physically disabled individuals in the United States fell largely on the immediate family. In cases where families were unable to care for disabled members, the local community sometimes provided care. In some burgeoning cities of the early nineteenth century, charitable organizations coordinated… Read More

Evangelical Deaconess Hospital

Postcard of the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital located on Wisconsin Avenue from the 1940s.
In 1909, the synod of the Evangelical Church, a predecessor of the United Church of Christ, founded a Deaconess Society in the German tradition that called on Christian Sisters to offer hospital care to Milwaukee’s sick and needy. The fifteen-bed unit established by the Society in 1910 on what is now West Wisconsin Avenue grew… Read More

Froedtert Hospital

The multiple-story Froedtert Hospital building stands on the right, near the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin on the left. Above is a clear blue sky. The hospital's name signage is installed on top of the building's rounded corner. An intersection and a traffic light appear in the foreground.
The centerpiece of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center, Froedtert Hospital serves as the teaching affiliate of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Froedtert opened in 1980 after nearly three decades of often halting planning that revolved around the trust left by Milwaukee malt baron Kurtis R. Froedtert. A latecomer to Milwaukee’s health care scene, Froedtert Hospital,… Read More

Health Care Delivery

One of the pages of a homeopathic guidebook. The document is titled "Practical Homeopathy, For the People." The bottom portion of the page displays the name of the author, J.S. Douglas, A.M., M.D., and their short biography.
The integrated health care systems that currently dominate health care provision in Milwaukee were created in the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. Before the many mergers and acquisitions that formed them, health care was provided by many small independent providers. In 1988, there were twenty distinctive community… Read More

Johnston Emergency Hospital

Sepia-colored of the Johnston Emergency Hospital facade by a street. The structure has five dormer windows. The facade's second floor has five rectangular windows. The ground floor features arched structures adorning the windows beneath that flank the central entrance.
Johnston Emergency Hospital, established by the city of Milwaukee, opened in its permanent location on the corner of Third and Sycamore (now Michigan) Street in 1894. It provided emergency medical care in a twenty-four-bed facility. The hospital earned a place in history on October 14, 1912, when a would-be assassin shot presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt… Read More

Milwaukee County General Hospital

Long shot of the grand Milwaukee County General Hospital standing in the distance. A large pond separates the lawn in the foreground from the one in the background. Some trees grow on the pond's edge, hiding the view of a portion of the hospital's facade. The shadow of a large tree on the right is visible in the foreground.
For over 130 years, Milwaukee County provided health care at the county grounds in Wauwatosa. What began as poor relief for the area’s growing population in the nineteenth century developed into Milwaukee County General Hospital, a core institution within the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center. In 1995 rising costs and other challenges led to its privatization.… Read More

Mount Sinai Hospital

A painted postcard illustrates the exterior view of Mount Sinai Hospital in the distance. The rectangular multi-story building sits on a street corner. The ground floor has a cream-colored exterior wall, while the floors above feature a brown color. Several vintage cars line the street next to the hospital. Tall trees with sparse foliage grow on the lawn around the building. A green space appears in the left foreground. A portion of an empty street is on the right front. The blue sky is depicted above.
The only Wisconsin Jewish hospital opened in Milwaukee in June 1903. It was founded as a nonsectarian hospital at a time when most private religious hospitals established hospitals for their religious communities. Although the Jewish community in Milwaukee opened the hospital to treat the large Jewish immigrant population, many of whom arrived with very little… Read More

Nursing Education

Full shot of five recent graduates of the St. Joseph's Hospital nursing program posing together with their rolled diplomas in a semi-circle. They wear the same nurse uniform. The school's banners decorated with roses are placed between the graduates in the center of this image.
Formal nursing education in the United States had its beginnings in the late 1800s, after Florence Nightingale suggested a model for schools in England. Schools proliferated as hospitals needed nurses to care for the patients. Milwaukee was no different. The first Milwaukee schools were established in 1888 as the Wisconsin Training School for Nurses and… Read More

Public Health

A grayscale photograph shows seven children lining up from the left background to the right foreground. The youngest girl in a dress stands in the front. Her little body faces to the left. Her eyes look at a syringe held by a woman who crouches in the image's left foreground. The woman smiles as she holds a syringe with her right hand and makes eye contact with the boy standing number two from the front. Books inside and atop a shelf are visible in the background.
Milwaukee has proven exceptional in its reform-minded approach to public health since it established a Board of Health in 1867. Later efforts to improve public health began after the city’s rapid population growth in the late nineteenth century (by 1910 Milwaukee was the twelfth largest city in the United States, with a population of 373,857).… Read More

Wisconsin Soldiers’ Aid Fair

Sepia-colored long shot of a wooden building facing to the right. The building's elongated wings are visible. A large banner hanging over the street in front of the building reads "Soldiers of the Union, Welcome Home." The street spans from the right background to the left foreground. Text at the top right reads "West Side of Broadway, Extending Across Huron St. 1865, The Great Fair."
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