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American Indian Movement

Wide shot of the facade of the McKinley Park Coast Guard Station. The two-story building has regularly spaced windows, light-colored walls, and a cupola on top. The station is surrounded by snow on the ground and on some parts of the roof. Some people appear outside the building, and one climbs the stairs to the station's entrance.
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

Anarchism

A full display of page 5 of the May 1, 1970 issue of UWM Post. The upper part of the page contains "The Letter to the Editor" article and a satirical cartoon by Phil Frank about the Vietnam War. The middle and bottom sections of the newspaper feature a letter to the editor and three articles. The first is entitled, "Fourth in a series: Public to Discuss Kelleth Proposals." The second, on the right side of the page, is titled "Viewpoint: If Precedent Ruled Progress." The third one, on the bottom left, is an announcement entitled, "March, Street Party in May Fest."
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

Sepia-colored exterior view of German-English Academy, a 3½-story building. The wing on the far left features three round-arched windows. Adjacent to the main building on the right is a 2½-story structure featuring a wide entrance and a the date "1892" inscribed on the second-floor exterior wall.
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

Sketch of the old Chestnut Street bridge connecting the east and west sides of the Milwaukee River. Two platforms in the middle of the bridge are open to let an incoming boat pass. A person with two cattle and an empty wagon is waiting on the side of one of the platforms.
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

A colored postcard of the Lake Park staircase set in the center of the picture surrounded by lush trees, landscaping flowers in various colors and green lawn. Blue sky emerges in the background. Text on the top of the image reads "Grand Stairway, Lake Park, Milwaukee, Wis."
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

Red lines on map of Milwaukee County shows routes radiating from the downtown toward the peripheral areas. The pathways follow diagonals, straight, and zig zag directions. Each route is stamped with a combination number and letter code. Written as a subheading on top of the map is the slogan "Knowing Your Evacuation Route Today Means Survival Tomorrow."
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

People of all ages in church attire walk the sidewalk past the Badger Paint shop. The women at the front have sad expressions on their faces. Cars are parked in the foreground of the photo.
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

Grayscale long shot of protesters marching on the sidewalk. A child in short pants and a jacket walks in the front row among a group of adults. In the background are trees, bus stop and restaurant signs, and cars parked on the side of the road.
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

Sepia-colored long shot of the council chambers interior where the 1898-1899 Common Council members pose in suits and ties. Some gaze up at the camera lens while sitting at their respective desks. In the far background a group of people stands on the gallery in the second floor.
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 stands among men in suits and ties, smiling as he holds a pair of scissors for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Another group of men appears in the background. A thick ribbon stretches horizontally in front of them.
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

Courts

Sepia-colored photograph of a courtroom interior showing a Milwaukee judge standing on the right, behind a raised desk while facing left. Men and women in formal attire sit in the background, listening to the judge. One man leans on a table on the far left taking notes. Another man sits cross-legged on the left side of the judge in the right foreground.
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

Crime

Grayscale photograph of John F. Schrank and a policeman smiling as they stand next to each other. Some policemen stand behind Schrank, who poses in a casual manner in this picture. Schrank and two of the policemen are smiling. The bottom of the image is inscribed "Schrank Under Arrest."
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

A blurry headshot of Daniel Bell from the chest up wearing a collared shirt, a jacket, and a round hat. His eyes make direct contact with the camera lens in this grayscale photograph.
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

A political poster in a square shape featuring Anthony Szczerbinski's photo surrounded by slogans promoting him as a candidate for Congress. The top of the poster reads "Wilson Will Need Him!!" The bottom part of the paper is inscribed "Democratic Ticket Primary Sept. 5th Elect. Nov. 7th."
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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