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The Korean Language and Culture School of Milwaukee has held a Lunar New Year celebration annually since 2003. Members of Milwaukee's Korean community, as well as families with children adopted from Korea, attend.
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… Read More


The Milwaukee Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Holy Trinity Church, located in Wauwatosa, is housed in a church originally built in 1888 for the First Baptist Church of Wauwatosa.
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… Read More


Entrance sign to the Luxembourg American Cultural Center located in the town of Belgium.
Milwaukee’s population from Luxembourg played important roles in the development of several towns in the metropolitan area. Like the Germans, from whom their language descended, the Luxembourgers settled along Lake Michigan from Chicago through Milwaukee and northward through Ozaukee County and into Sturgeon Bay in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the nineteenth century,… Read More


Photograph of Esperanza Unida, or "Mural of Peace," painted by Reynaldo Hernandez on the side of a building on W. National Avenue in the Walker's Point neighborhood.
Many of the earliest Mexicans to settle in Midwestern cities of the United States arrived from Mexico in the late 19th century to work maintaining the tracks for U.S. railroads. In Milwaukee, the earliest known Mexican resident was Rafael Baez, a musician who arrived from Puebla, Mexico in 1884 and was the organist and music… Read More

Native Milwaukee

Before Milwaukee became a city, the western shore of Lake Michigan and what we know now as Southeast Wisconsin was Indian Country.  In 1829, the Menominee Indians ceded the land in the pink area to the U.S.  The Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi ceded the land in green area  to the U.S. in 1832.  Together, these land cessions reshaped the geography of the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, and made the area we now call the Milwaukee metropolitan area United States land.
The Indigenous Peoples of North America have always claimed Milwaukee as their own. Known as the “gathering place by the waters,” the “good earth” (or good land), or simply the “gathering place,” Indigenous groups such as the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Odawa (Ottawa), Fox, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sauk, and Oneida have all called Milwaukee their home at some… Read More


1894 photograph of the Norwegian Lutheran Church established in Muskego in 1843.
In 1839, the Milwaukee area’s earliest Norwegian settlers arrived at Muskego Lake in search of better economic prospects and freedom from the doctrinal strictures of the State Church of Norway (Lutheran). While some settled in Milwaukee, most used the city as an entry point into Wisconsin and Illinois’ larger Norwegian communities. Still, Norwegian-Americans living in… Read More


A large crowd of people fills bleachers to celebrate Milwaukee's 100th birthday. Centurama activities lasted an entire month.
People have inhabited the geographic area that is the scope of this encyclopedia, what we now call the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area, for many millennia. Burial mounds, once quite common, but now mostly covered or leveled by later inhabitants, provide archaeological testimony to the thousands of years of human life in the area. The mound builders… Read More


1920 photograph of attendees at the Silver Jubilee Banquet of the Association of Poles in America Banquet.
People of Polish immigrant origins and ancestry have made up the second largest European origin and ancestry grouping in Milwaukee since the 1880s, after the far greater population of German immigrants and their descendants. Millions of Poles wound up emigrating from every region of their country from the 1850s onward in quest of work opportunities… Read More

Puerto Ricans

Pascual Romero, pictured here in 1954, was one of the first Puerto Ricans to permanently settle in Milwaukee.
The Puerto Rican community in Milwaukee dates from the early 1950s when workers were recruited to the city’s foundries and tanneries through the Chicago office of the Puerto Rican Department of Labor. As the economy in Puerto Rico shifted from agriculture to manufacturing in the 1940s, thousands of farm workers were displaced. Island political leaders… Read More


Towards the end of the twentieth century, many Russians settled and established businesses in Shorewood. Russian Food & Gifts, which features traditional Russian groceries and gifts, is located on Oakland Avenue just south of Menlo Boulevard.
Immigrants from the part of the world that was the Russian Empire until 1917, the Soviet Union until 1989, and the Russian Federation today, arrived in two waves, at two different bookends of the twentieth century. In 1910 some 15,000 people reported that they were born in “Russia” in the Milwaukee metro area. Of those,… Read More


1973 photograph of the Billy Mitchell Scottish Pipe Band performing at Summerfest, showcasing the historic connection between Milwaukee's Scottish community and modern culture.
The first Scots came to Milwaukee in the 1810s as fur traders. James Murray arrived in 1835 and became the first permanent Scottish settler in the city. A renaissance man of sorts, Murray was a painter, glazier, and real estate broker. As a Presbyterian, he played a role in founding the First Presbyterian Church in… Read More


Photograph of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral taken in 2016. Completed in 1958, the church is a key aspect of Milwaukee's Serbian community and includes a school and other cultural organizations.
Milwaukee’s Serb population dates to the late nineteenth century, when Serbs seeking industrial employment immigrated to Milwaukee and other cities along Lake Michigan’s waterfront, including Racine, Kenosha, and Chicago. This early Serb population arrived in Milwaukee as part of a larger movement of peoples from the Austro-Hungarian controlled areas of the Balkans, such as Slavonia,… Read More


Photograph of a group of young men and women part of a Sokols gymnastics group, taken in 1931.
The Milwaukee area’s Slovak population dates from the 1880s, when economic dislocation at home and nationalist resistance to the Magyarization policies of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prompted immigrants to come to the United States in search of jobs and a better life. At the time, labor agents from American industrial plants, including southeast Wisconsin’s Patrick Cudahy… Read More


This photograph showcases Harmonie Hall, a social gathering space for Milwaukee's Slovenian community. The building was built in 1894 and razed in 1962.
Living in tight-knit communities in southern Milwaukee, West Allis, and Cudahy, Milwaukee Slovenian immigrants constructed an assortment of churches, fraternal orders, and cultural institutions that preserved their traditions while they also adapted to America. The earliest Slovenes arrived in Wisconsin in the 1870s when Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the migration continued… Read More


Portrait of Gustav Unonius, Episcopal minister and leader of the 19th century Swedish settlement once located in present-day Waukesha County.
According to the 2009-2013 American Community Survey, some 27,000 people in the Milwaukee metropolitan area identify themselves as of Swedish ancestry. Despite these numbers, the state’s and Milwaukee’s Swedish population, arriving in their largest numbers in the late nineteenth century, never represented a substantial portion of the population either in the city or outstate, and… Read More


Portrait of John Martin Henni, circa 1880. Henni was a Swiss immigrant who became a leading figure in Milwaukee's Catholic community.
The Swiss population in Milwaukee has not been a large one over the years, but Swiss immigrants and their descendants have contributed to Milwaukee’s political, religious, and cultural climates in critical ways. In 1930, some 4,000 people in the metro area reported their father’s birthplace as Switzerland. In the early twenty first century, some 8,000… Read More


Members of Milwaukee's Syrian community pose for a photograph in 1918.
Milwaukee’s Syrian population dates to the late nineteenth century, when villagers from Ain Bordai, near present-day Baalbek in Lebanon, arrived in Chicago for the World’s Fair. At the time, Syria was a province in the Ottoman Empire. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the region came under… Read More


Built in 1874, St. Michael's was originally known as the Salem Evangelical Church (Lutheran). It became home to St. Michael's, Wisconsin's only Ukrainian Catholic Church, in 1953. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The small Ukrainian-American community in Milwaukee began with immigrants in the early twentieth century and received additional migrants after World War II and the fall of the Soviet Union. For over a century, religious institutions, affiliated either with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church or the Ukrainian Catholic Church, have provided a place to sustain and maintain… Read More


In 2018, Vietnamese Catholics celebrated their 40th anniversary as part of the Milwaukee community with a special mass at St. Martin of Tours in Franklin.
Vietnamese refugees arrived in Milwaukee in several “waves” during and after the Vietnam War. In the years following, the Vietnamese who arrived in Milwaukee assimilated into American society. “First wave” refugees, with medical educations and middle- or upper-class backgrounds, came to America before 1975. These refugees used their connections to former American military officers they… Read More


The North Presbyterian Church was built in 1851 at the corner of what is today E. State and N. Milwaukee Streets. In 1871, a Welsh congregation purchased the building, and it operated as the Welsh Presbyterian Church until 1954.
The Milwaukee area’s Welsh population generally left their homes in Wales in southwestern Great Britain in the mid-nineteenth century due to the paucity of available land for farming. There is evidence that many people in Wales were aware of the 1841 American preemption laws, which allowed for the purchase of 160 acres for $1.25 per… Read More