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Jacques Marquette

Statue of Jacques Marquette in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. The sculpture stands on a base that is inscribed "Wisconsin's Tribute--James Marquette S.J., who, with Louis Jolliet, discovered the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien, Wis., June 17, 1673." On the left is a statue with a base that reads "New Jersey." A sturdy pillar stands behind Marquette's statue, another one is on the right.
Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) was a Jesuit missionary best known for exploring the upper Mississippi River with Louis Jolliet. Born in Laon, France, Marquette became a member of the Society of Jesus at the age of seventeen. He was assigned to the missionary outpost of Quebec in 1666. Having envisioned being a missionary since boyhood, Marquette… Read More

James Groppi

Grayscale full shot of Father James Groppi sitting with a group of young people in his glasses and clergy shirt. He sits in the middle while putting on his left shoe. Some of the marchers wear sweatshirts that read "Milwaukee N.A.A.C.P Youth Council."
James Groppi (1930-1985) was the most famous cleric in the history of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He was born November 16, 1930, raised in a home attached to his family’s grocery store in Bay View, and attended nearby Immaculate Conception Church as well as Boys Tech and Bay View high schools. Feeling a… Read More

Jehovah’s Witnesses

A high-angle long shot displays a speaker on stage in front of a large audience sitting in a big hall. People sit in stadium seats and on the floor of the arena. The speaker stands on a stage surrounded by flowers, behind a podium, in a suit.
In 2015, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society—the publishing arm of the Jehovah’s Witnesses—counted a monthly average of 1,195,081 actively preaching Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States. While the Society does not keep numbers for individual communities, a 2014 Pew Research Center survey estimated that roughly one percent of adult Wisconsinites self-identified as Witnesses. In… Read More


Facade of the home of Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun against the blue sky. The building features the Star of David symbol at the top front of the exterior wall.
Who is a Jew? The difficulties of definition were apparent in two recent publications. In 2011, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation commissioned a study which concluded that there were approximately 25,600 Jews in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. A 2013 Milwaukee Magazine article, using a measure of synagogue membership, said there were fewer than 9,000. Defining Jews… Read More


Long shot of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church facade in the distance sited in a street corner. It has two tall asymmetrical towers flanking the central section. The taller one on the right is a clock tower. The other on the left has an open belfry. The central section features an entrance and a large arched window above. A lower building stands in front of the church, on the left foreground. They are separated by a road. Green trees grow on the road verge visible on right foreground.
Lutherans have been part of Milwaukee’s fabric from its earliest years. But the American Lutheran controversy—the tension between Americanization and maintaining religious identity—is at the core of the Lutheran experience in Milwaukee. Historian Mark Noll described the attempt to maintain an inherited faith in the context of Americanizing as “steering between the Scylla of assimilation… Read More


Long shot of the Summerfield United Methodist Church by the street corner. The grand building has entrances on the left and right sides that are visible in this image. Both sides feature a large arched window and doors. A tower appears prominently on the left side of the church. A staircase connects the front section with the sidewalk. A junction road is in the foreground.
Since the 1830s, Methodists have been worshipping in Milwaukee. This faith tradition encompasses a variety of denominations, including many congregations that have traditionally served particular ethnic, racial, and linguistic groups. Some of these denominations exist today, including many historically black churches, while others have merged into larger communions. The largest Methodist denomination in the nation… Read More

MICAH (Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope )

Medium full shot of Rev. Willie Brisco in a suit standing on the right while giving a speech with his right hand holding a microphone. His body faces directionally to the camera. Two other mics owned by broadcasting companies are set in front of Rev. Brisco. A crowd of people stands behind him. Some hold protest signs. A woman in glasses on the farthest left claps her hands
Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH) was founded in 1988, launching locally a new generation of congregation-based community organizing. An affiliate of the national Gamaliel Foundation, MICAH draws its organizing principles from the tradition of Saul Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation. MICAH’s approach is to organize through member congregations (rather than the umbrella… Read More


A group of people gathers for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Four people in the center hold a giant scissors together, about to cut a red ribbon stretching from left to right. Other people around them hold the ribbon with one of their hands. Some women on the center-to-right are smiling in headcovers. Some on the left wear casual clothes. Behind them is a wall painted in various colors highlighting the words "Islamic Resource Center" and "MMW." Some people stand next to it in the right background.
Similar to the national demographics of Muslims in the United States of America, Muslims in Milwaukee are quite diverse ethnically and racially. Although still small in numbers, estimates in the Muslim community range from 10,000-15,000 individuals. Muslims in Milwaukee, despite being a religious minority, have an important presence in the city through active civic leadership… Read More

Old St. Mary Church

Grayscale long shot of the old St. Mary Church by a street corner. The facade faces slightly to the right, exposing its giant central clock tower that soars above other buildings in the area. A cross sits atop the tower's steep roof. Several trees grow next to the church. The road around the church is empty.
This popular Roman Catholic Church sits on the corner of Kilbourn and Broadway. It was the proto-German church of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Founded by the St. Ann’s Frauenverein, a group of German-speaking women, property for the church was purchased for $425 and a cornerstone laid on April 19, 1846. A spire was added to… Read More

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Grayscale long shot of three altars at the Holy Trinity Our Lady of Guadalupe church. Each altar stands in front of an arched structure on the wall. The central one has the largest structure. Rows of pews appear in the left and right foreground, flanking an aisle. Two ceiling lights glow on the left and right sides under the vaulted ceiling.
Mexican migration to Milwaukee in the early twentieth century was spurred in part by revolutionary turmoil and anti-Catholic persecution. Many Mexican Catholic immigrants to Milwaukee found work in the city’s tanneries and housing on the near South Side. Outreach toward Mexicans by the local Catholic Church was spurred by the Society of St. Vincent de… Read More


Grayscale photograph of the streetcorner entrance to the New Fellowship Church of God in Christ. The wooden frame one-story building has a hanging sign that reads "Church God Christ, Welcome to All." A small group of people gathers around the front stairs. Some sit on the steps, some lean on two concrete blocks that flank the stairs. One in a hat, shirt, long pants, and suspender belts stands on the sidewalk in the foreground facing the church. Another group of people in dresses appears on the sidewalk on the left back, next to tall trees and other buildings in the neighborhood. On the farthest left background is a parked car.
In 1906, the Azusa revival began within the holiness community of Los Angeles. Although this nearly three-year revival was not the first modern Pentecostal gathering, it was an important moment for the expansion of the movement. Known for its charismatic services, faith healings, and practice of speaking in tongues, the Pentecostal movement spread rapidly across… Read More


Grayscale photograph of the interior of Immanuel Presbyterian Church displaying its nave with an altar in the center background. A pointed-arched structure embellished the altar. Rows of pews appear on the left and right flanking a central aisle towards the altar. Four glowing ceiling lights hang above the pews. Two are on the left and two on the right. The ceiling is elaborate. An arched structure ornaments its center part. Slanted ceilings appear on the left and right sides.
Although Presbyterian churches counted only a little more than 8,000 members in the Milwaukee area as of 2010, Presbyterians have played a significant role in shaping the city. A Presbyterian congregation was among the earliest founded in Milwaukee, and famous early Milwaukee Presbyterians included meatpacking magnate John Plankinton, Mayor William Pitt Lynde, and mapmaker Silas… Read More

Roman Catholics

Elevated view of a congregation standing in pews in the Church of the Gesu. The altar is in the center background. The church's majestic interior features arched structures here and there, grand columns, and glowing chandeliers.
Roman Catholicism has been an important social and cultural force in the history of Milwaukee from the putative beginnings of white settlement in the area with Solomon Juneau. Juneau himself and his wife, Josette Vieau Juneau, were Catholics. Father Florimond Bonduel, an itinerant priest from Belgium, celebrated the Catholic Mass in their home. From this… Read More

Salvation Army

Two pages from the Salvation Army's 100th-anniversary booklet. Each has a black-colored background. The page on the left features a white text that reads "Today's Salvation Army is More Than...." and pictures of coins shown at different angles to simulate falling. The page on the right features white text that reads "...a drop in the bucket" and images of the same coins. This page also shows the Salvation Army logo and beneath this is inscribed "Serving Milwaukee 100 Years."
From its entry into Milwaukee in 1889, the Salvation Army has pursued its two-part mission to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Captain Samuel Neil, his wife, and four companions established Milwaukee’s first Salvation Army center on what is now North Plankinton Avenue. In 1893,… Read More

Seventh-day Adventists

Long shot of Central Seventh-day Adventist Church against the blue sky. Green lawns surround the multiple-story building. Some trees grow in the yard. Visible in the background are several buildings in the neighborhood.
In 2010, over 2,800 Seventh-day Adventists worshipped in the greater Milwaukee area. Known for keeping the Saturday Sabbath, the Adventist faithful meet in thirteen minister-led churches and lay companies in the metropolitan area. Among these congregations, Central Seventh-day Adventist, in Milwaukee’s North Point neighborhood, is notable for its location in an Alexander Eschweiler-designed mansion. Milwaukee… Read More


Long shot of the gurdwara building in Brookfield. The place's orange-colored monument sign appears in its yard. Several plants and green lawns embellish the yard in the foreground. Tall green trees are visible in the background. Above is the clear blue sky.
While there is no authoritative count of American Sikhs, the Pew Research Center concluded that in 2012 about 200,000 Sikhs (a conservative estimate), primarily of Indian descent, lived within the United States. As signs of faith and social solidarity, many Sikhs adopt the names “Singh” (lion) for men and “Kaur” (princess) for women. A monotheistic… Read More

Society of Friends

An entrance sign made of wood reads "Religious Society of Friends--Quakers--" On top of the wood structure is inscribed the place's address number "3224."
Members of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, were among the early Yankee-Yorker settlers in Southeastern Wisconsin in the 1830s. Over a century later, the current Milwaukee Monthly Meeting—the Society of Friends congregation in Milwaukee—was founded. The Milwaukee Friends Meeting, like its counterpart in Madison, arose from the pacifist movements of the 1920s… Read More


Long shot of facade and side of Morris Pratt Institute in grayscale tone. The two-and-a-half storybuilding has two entrances with stairs: one on the facade, one on the side. The facade features a balcony and a porch enclosed with ornamented balustrades and windows. The building's side has a decorated portico and regularly spaced rectangular windows. Dormer windows are set on the steep mansard roof. Text beneath the image reads "Morris Pratt Institute, Whitewater, WIS."
In 1848, the Fox sisters reported communicating with spirits through rappings in their Hydesville, New York home. Sparked by this revelation, Spiritualists began forming churches and spirit circles throughout the United States in hope of similarly contacting the dead. Wisconsin became a center for the Spiritualist movement, which counted among its followers such dignitaries as… Read More

St. Benedict the Moor Mission and Church

Grayscale wide shot of the St. Benedict the Moor Institute on the left and St. Anthony Hospital on the right. Both multiple-story buildings are separated by the long 10th Street, which stretches down in the middle. Other buildings that line the street sides are visible in the background. Next to the hospital, on the image's far right, appears a small portion of a church cupola.
Established in 1908, St. Benedict the Moor Mission was the principal focus of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s early ministry to African Americans. Its school was one of the few boarding schools for African American children in the country. While priests and sisters formed good Catholics, they also nurtured strong, knowledgeable, and confident individuals able to… Read More

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

Long shot of the facade and side of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. The building's side faces the left, while the facade is to the right. The side's design is elaborate. It features several arched windows and two small entrances with stairs. The facade has the main entrance, a triple-arched portico, and front stairs with handrailings. The stone building has several copper-clad domes with a cross atop each. Snow covers the ground around the church.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, located on 51st Street just south of Oklahoma Avenue, is currently the main place of worship for Milwaukee’s Serbian Orthodox community. The congregation has its roots in an influx of Serbian immigrants to Milwaukee in the early twentieth century, a migration that called for the creation of a new church.… Read More