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Showing 1-20 of 38 entries

Asian Indians

Scholars have described Asian Indian immigration to America as the “quiet migration.” Asian Indians began arriving in Milwaukee after the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. Asian Indian immigrants usually possessed advanced degrees and became professionals and entrepreneurs after settling in Milwaukee. Milwaukee and Waukesha became home to many of these immigrants due…
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Austrians

Illustrated portrait of Joseph Salzmann, a prominent Austrian priest who immigrated to Milwaukee in 1847.
From 1980-2010 about 10,000-15,000 people in the Milwaukee metropolitan area reported Austrian ancestry in the census. This number was quite similar to those who reported an Austrian birthplace in 1940, but quite a bit smaller than the 24,000 who reported their mother’s birthplace as Austria in 1910. The variability in these numbers reflects the assimilation…
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British

Portrait of Bishop Kemper, the first Episcopal missionary bishop in Wisconsin, taken in 1855. He was a prominent figure in establishing the Anglican religion in the midwest.
The territory that became Milwaukee fell under British imperial rule in 1763 when Great Britain defeated France in the French and Indian Wars. It became a territory of the United States after American independence. Neither the British nor Americans settled the area at the time. The small fur-trading community remained predominantly French and Indian until…
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Chinese

1932 photograph of the Toy Building, once located downtown at 736 N. 2nd Street. Built in 1913, the building was home to Charlie Toy’s Shanghai Chinese Restaurant.
Due to restrictive legislation, Chinese immigration to America remained very small in the late nineteenth century and remained so until the 1940s. Originally from Canton, China, the immigrants that arrived in Milwaukee migrated from the West Coast. The Chinese who came to Milwaukee usually were men who left behind their wives and children to find…
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Croatians

A group of Croatians in Milwaukee are gathered together in this photograph from December, 1933. Many people wear traditional clothing.
Milwaukee’s Croatian community dates to the first decade of the twentieth century. United States Census figures indicate that in 1910, over 3,000 Croatians and Serbs, identified by mother tongue and grouped together at that point, lived in the city. Despite their rural backgrounds, early Croatian Milwaukeeans worked in the city’s industrial sector in the city…
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Cubans

Cubans began to appear in the Milwaukee area in noticeable numbers several years after the triumph of the Castro Revolution on January 1959. When Castro began to align himself with the Soviet Union, many Cubans on the island began to make plans to send their children out of the country in the Operation Peter Pan…
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Czechs

Photograph of Bohemian Hall taken in June 1960. Opened in 1895 on the corner of 12th and Vine Streets, the hall served as a popular cultural gathering space for Milwaukee's Czech community.
Immigrants from Bohemia and Moravia, called the “Czech Homelands” by the key scholar of Milwaukee’s Czech community, were one of the first ethnic groups to settle in the Milwaukee area in the middle of the nineteenth century. Then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today these lands form the Czech Republic, the western-most Slavic nation in…
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Dutch

Milwaukee’s Dutch population first appeared in the records of the 1860 United States Census when some 500 people reported their birthplace as the Netherlands. There is ample evidence, though, that they arrived considerably earlier. One account of the early Dutch suggests that, by 1832, a printer by the name of Lukwilder had moved to Milwaukee…
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Filipinos

The arrival of Filipinos in the Milwaukee metropolitan area took place after World War II. The Philippines were a United States colonial possession from the end of the Spanish American War in 1898 until the South Pacific nation gained its independence in 1946. Although the U.S. Government denied naturalization rights to Filipino migrants during these…
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Finns

Finns started to arrive in Wisconsin and Milwaukee in the final decade of the nineteenth century and the first two in the twentieth, though Milwaukee’s Finnish immigration increased most rapidly between 1910 and 1930. The Finnish ancestry population was small. In 1930, about 1,400 people in the Milwaukee metro area reported their father’s birthplace was…
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French

Initially constructed in 1947 and restored in 2007, this replica of French fur trader and Milwaukee co-founder Solomon Juneau's cabin is located in Juneau Park.
The Milwaukee area’s French heritage predates the history of the city. For thousands of years, the area at which Milwaukee would be founded was populated by American Indian groups. During the seventeenth century, French missionaries and fur traders, representing both France and the French colony of New France, began to populate areas of northern Wisconsin.…
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Germans

August 1914 photograph of the men's chorus of the Milwaukee Musikverein at a song festival in Elkhart Lake. With the outbreak of World War I in August of 1914, the German-American community would soon face discrimination and be forced to prove their loyalty once the U.S. entered the war in April 1917.
Milwaukee is the most German of major American cities, and Germans have constituted Milwaukee’s largest immigrant group. The city’s brewing industry, tradition of ethnic festivals, built environment, and history of working-class politics all display the influence of the German immigrants who arrived in especially large numbers during the half-century following 1850. As the number of…
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Greeks

Photograph of the original Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, built over ten years from 1904-1914. The current Annunciation Church hosts Greek Fest annually.
Greek immigrants began arriving in Milwaukee in the final decade of the nineteenth century, with the 1900 United States Census registering the first Greek-born Milwaukeeans. Arriving to a large extent from the Peloponnesus peninsula in the southwest of Greece, they left for America for a number of economic reasons, including poor soil and crop failures,…
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Hmong

The Hmong came to the United States as political refugees from Laos beginning in the mid-1970s. As a result of their involvement with American military and humanitarian personnel during the war in Southeast Asia, more than 130,000 settled in the U.S. The 2010 census reported the U.S. Hmong population had risen to over 260,000. Almost…
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Hungarians

A group of of people from the U.S. American Hungarian Societies of Wisconsin stand in front of their float at the 1940 Midsummer Festival.
Hungarians migrated to Milwaukee in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and in a small refugee migration following World War II and the Hungarian revolt of 1956. In 1910, almost 8000 Milwaukeeans, or about 2 percent of the population, reported that their mother was born in Hungary. However, in the same census, only 1,306,…
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Irish

Irish and Irish-American residents have been an important part of southeastern Wisconsin since the 1830s, creating a distinctive subculture that combined engagement in civic and business affairs with attention to cultural and political concerns in Ireland. As early as 1839, Dublin-born lawyer, journalist and businessman Hans Crocker helped launch the Milwaukee Lyceum—the precursor to the…
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Italians

William Calvano, national president of UNICO, stands next to Dorothy Matranga, Milwaukee chapter secretary, and Joseph Bruno, Milwaukee chapter president, in 1950. UNICO is the Italian word for "unique."
Italian immigrants began to come to Milwaukee, especially from Sicily, in significant numbers in the 1890s. They settled primarily in the Third Ward after the 1892 fire that devastated the ward. The community grew over the next generation, building a close-knit neighborhood and vibrant cultural presence in the city. By 1920, a few years before…
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Japanese

Two young boys and their mother perform a traditional Japanese song for school children gathered at the International Institute for Ethnic Spring Festival. The Japanese American Civic League was a member organization of the International Institute.
The presence of Japanese immigrants and their descendants in the Milwaukee area has been a function of America’s complex political history with Japan. From the late nineteenth to the early 20th century, a small migration of Japanese settled on the West Coast and Hawaii. Racial restrictions to the naturalization of non-white immigrants made the immigrant…
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Koreans

Estimated at approximately 4,000 residents in 2014, the Korean American population in the greater Milwaukee area has grown by at least twofold since the 1980s, when the community was estimated at 1,200 to 2,000 members. Yet the number of Korean restaurants was the same then as it is now: two. While Seoul Korean Restaurant and…
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Latvians

The current Baltic state of Latvia became independent from the Russian Empire in 1918, was absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1940, was invaded by the Nazis in 1941, retaken by the Soviet Union in 1944, and was a Soviet Socialist Republic until the fall of Communism and independence in 1991. That political history served…
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