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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… Read More


This issue of the UWM Post from 1970 features an announcement for an upcoming march and festival  in support of "workers of the world who are trying to overthrow Amerikan imperialism."
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anarchism as “a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.” In the early twentieth century, and again in the late 1960s and early 1970s, though little remembered today, advocates of… Read More

Bennett Law

The German-English Academy (left), founded in 1851 as a private school whose curriculum emphasized the German language, came under government regulation with passage of the Bennett Law.
The conflict over the Bennett Law of 1889 reveals the social forces acting on Milwaukee’s schools in the late-nineteenth century. Immigrant culture, nativism, and the push for “Americanization” were all at issue in this contest over the instructional language to be used in education. The roots of the Bennett Law lie in a speech by… Read More

Bridge War

This sketch illustrates the Chestnut Street bridge that connected the east and west sides of early Milwaukee and stood at the center of the city's bridge war.
The Milwaukee Bridge War of 1845 was the culmination of a decade-long sectional struggle for preeminence among the city’s early settlements. In 1818, Solomon Juneau initiated what would become, years later, Juneautown, in what is now the eastern part of downtown Milwaukee. Sixteen years later, Byron Kilbourn founded Kilbourntown to the west of the Milwaukee… Read More

Byron Kilbourn

A 2005 photograph of Byron Kilbourn's tombstone, located in Milwaukee's Forest Home Cemetery.
Of the three individuals considered Milwaukee’s founders, Byron Kilbourn could arguably rank first among these icons. Certainly in terms of a metropolitan vision, Kilbourn had the most ambitious and comprehensive dreams of not only what could happen in this part of Southeastern Wisconsin but also, importantly, what it would take to realize such dreams. Foremost,… Read More

Charles Whitnall

Charles Whitnall was a prominent Milwaukee conservationist and regional planner during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is considered the foundational mind behind the Milwaukee County Parks System.
Charles B. Whitnall, planner and conservationist, is considered the main inspiration for Milwaukee County’s system of public parks and also an influential advocate of regional planning in early twentieth century Milwaukee. Whitnall was born in 1859, four miles north of downtown, in present day Riverwest. Charles’s father, Frank Whitnall, was an English immigrant and gardener… Read More

City Beautiful Movement

The grand staircase at Lake Park was designed by Alfred C. Clas, Milwaukee's strongest supporter of the City Beautiful movement, and completed in 1908.
The City Beautiful Movement was a turn of the twentieth century national movement focused on creating attractive, well-designed urban landscapes. While the City Beautiful crusade is typically associated with places such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver, Milwaukee also experienced a push for beautification during this period. Influenced by the municipal reform movement and inspired… Read More

Civil Defense

Published by the Milwaukee County Office of Civil Defense in 1956, this map shows evacuation routes in the event of a nuclear attack.
Civil defense was adopted as an important policy in postwar Milwaukee by Mayor Frank Zeidler. In 1948, fearing atomic warfare, Zeidler helped create the Civil Defense and Disaster Committee, and in 1952, city officials created the Department of Civil Defense. Milwaukee gained notoriety for comprehensive civil defense efforts which included over 3,000 volunteer “block wardens,”… Read More

Civil Disorder of 1967

A crowd of people walk past the Badger Paint store on Teutonia Avenue where Clifford McKissick was shot and killed during the civil disorder of 1967.
The Milwaukee civil disorder of 1967, often referred to as a riot, began on the evening of Sunday, July 30. By the following morning, confrontations on the city’s streets had essentially ended. Its brevity was the result of rapid, muscular responses by Milwaukee police, Mayor Henry Maier, and Wisconsin governor Warren Knowles, who sent in… Read More

Civil Rights

A group of protestors, led by Father James Groppi, participate in a welfare march from Milwaukee to Madison in 1969.
Milwaukee’s Civil Rights Movement was the culmination of longstanding efforts by African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and their white allies to improve social, political, and economic prospects for non-white Milwaukeeans. During the 1860s, a small group of African Americans struggled to win the franchise. With the arrival of thousands of Southern migrants during the Great… Read More

Clement Zablocki

Representative Zablocki speaks with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House in this photograph from April 1968.
Clement J. Zablocki (1912-1983) represented Milwaukee’s South Side as a Democrat in the Wisconsin state senate from 1943 to 1948 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1949 to 1983. Of Polish ancestry, Zablocki was a lifelong devotee of his community and his Catholic faith. He attended St. Vincent DePaul Parish School, Marquette University… Read More

Common Council

In this photo, the 1898-1899 Common Council members gather in the council chambers. Until 1956, Milwaukee's Common Council members were all white males.
Milwaukee attained its official municipal status in 1846. As with many fundamental urban changes of the era, the catalyst for transformation from village to city was a series of social crises and territorial fights. In little more than a decade, Milwaukee had grown from a mere trading post to a community that would reach 20,000… Read More

County Executives

John Doyne (center) was Milwaukee's first county executive, elected in 1960. He is pictured here in 1967 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at General Mitchell International Airport.
Milwaukee’s county executives are to county government what presidents are to the federal government, governors to states, and mayors to cities. In other words, they are the chief elected executive officer of Milwaukee County government. It was not always that way. The most widely recognized American approach to government has three separate and equal branches… Read More


A Milwaukee judge gives a speech from behind a desk to a room of men and women.
Milwaukee’s court system has steadily changed since Wisconsin was first organized as a territory. During the territorial era (1836-48), the Milwaukee area was one of three Wisconsin judicial districts; it was served by Judge Andrew Miller, who was both a trial judge and a member of the Territorial Supreme Court. At statehood, Wisconsin was divided… Read More


In October 1912, John Schrank attempted to assassinate President Teddy Roosevelt during his visit to Milwaukee. Schrank was quickly arrested and institutionalized at a facility in Waupun, Wisconsin.
Ever since citizens of the United States began to legally settle the area in the 1830s, Milwaukee has had to address, in an ever-increasingly organized manner, different types of crime. Some of these illegal actions have been perpetuated by individuals and others involved incidents of collective criminal behavior. Some of this crime has been against… Read More

Daniel Bell

Portrait of Daniel Bell before he was killed by a Milwaukee police officer in 1958.
The “signal shot for the black freedom movement in Milwaukee” began as a routine traffic stop. On February 2, 1958, Daniel Bell, a twenty-two year old African American male, was pulled over for an inoperative taillight. Within moments he was fatally shot by Milwaukee patrolman Thomas Grady. The officer claimed that he chased and cornered… Read More

Daniel Webster Hoan

Portrait of Daniel Webster Hoan, who served as Milwaukee's mayor for over 20 years.
As mayor from 1916 to 1940, Daniel Webster Hoan transformed Milwaukee from a graft-ridden, ineffective municipality to a well-governed city that received national recognition for its high-quality services. Winning ten consecutive citywide elections as a Socialist, Hoan joined the Democrats during World War II and helped reshape the modern state party. Born in Waukesha in… Read More

David Rose

Campaign advertisement for Milwaukee's five-time mayor, David Rose. A deft politician and showman, his administration faced significant criticism.
Born in Darlington, Wisconsin on June 30, 1856, David Stuart Rose studied law and joined his father’s legal firm when he was twenty years old. In time, he served as mayor of Darlington and as a Lafayette County judge before moving to Milwaukee in 1888. There he spent years building up his own law practice… Read More

Democratic Party

This political poster encourages Milwaukee voters to elect Democratic candidate Anthony Szczerbinski to Congress in 1916.
The Milwaukee Democratic Party (MDP) has dominated the city’s politics during two very different chronological periods—separated by nearly a century. The first dated from the city’s 1846 incorporation through the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. MDP candidates handily bested their Whig opponents in virtually every mayoral, gubernatorial, and presidential contest. They also dominated the… Read More

Emil Seidel

Emil Seidel stands with his family in this portrait taken between 1910 and 1915.
The first socialist to govern a major American city, Emil Seidel (1864-1947) served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912. “Earnest, upright, and plain-spoken,” the former pattern-maker and alderman was a pragmatic politician who appealed to working-class voters. Seidel’s administration focused on efficiency and economy. Working closely with organized labor, the mayor and his… Read More
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