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The Socialists' ardent support for the labor movement is evidenced here by Mayor Daniel Hoan's speech before hundreds of strikers at the Seaman Auto Body plant.
Many German immigrants came to Milwaukee in the mid-nineteenth century influenced by the doctrines of Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, and Ferdinand Lassalle. And in the process, they came to form the core of Milwaukee socialists. Holding their early meetings in German, this informal socialist Vereinigung (or association) initially did not expand to the wider community.… Read More

Society of Friends

The Milwaukee Friends Meeting place of worship is located on the Anita and Jacob Koenen Land Preserve along the Milwaukee River.
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

Solomon Juneau

Portrait of Milwaukee founder Solomon Juneau at age 60, originally from an oil painting.
Milwaukee co-founder Laurent Solomon Juneau was born on August 9, 1793 at Repentigny, a small farming village near Montreal. Juneau entered the fur trade as a teenager, working (perhaps) for the Hudson’s Bay Company before becoming an independent agent based in Prairie du Chien. In 1818 the young voyageur met Jacques Vieau, a well-established trader… Read More

Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

This map of the Milwaukee area's growth since 1850 suggests the challenge SEWRPC faces in the twenty-first century of checking urban sprawl and encouraging the preservation of the region's natural environment.
Since 1960, the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) has prepared and published long-range, comprehensive plans to guide physical development in Wisconsin’s southeastern counties of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha. SEWRPC was authorized by an executive order from Governor Gaylord Nelson, recognizing that “problems of physical and economic development and of environmental… Read More

Spanish-Language Media

Roberto Hernandez (left), along with Esequiel Guzman (center) and another man work to set the layout of an issue of the "La Guardia" newspaper.
As Latinos (mostly Mexicans) began to settle in Milwaukee in the 1920s, they developed newspapers to disseminate news and information about their community in their native Spanish language. The earliest known newspapers were the Boletín Informativo and Sancho Panza, which was named after the fictional character in Cervantes’ novel Don Quijote. In 1930, several Latino… Read More

Special Schools

Opened in 1939 as a school for children with polio, Gaenslen School continues to serve students with special education needs.
Perspectives on disabilities and how to incorporate individuals with disabilities into mainstream society have evolved over the past couple of centuries. People with disabilities were viewed as less than human and treated as such. The views of individuals with disabilities in the 1800s reflected the assessment of value and worth in society. For example, people… Read More


This 1889 photograph features the Morris Pratt Institute, the only Spiritualist college in the United States, at its original location in Whitewater. The institute still exists today and is now located in Wauwatosa.
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

This photograph, looking north on 10th Street just south of State Street, captures three elements of the St. Benedict the Moor Mission in the 1930s: on the far right a sliver of the church (with cupola along roofpeak), St. Anthony Hospital (right of center), and the boarding school (on the left, for decades the original home of Marquette College).
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. Catherine’s Residence

This postcard of St. Catherine's Residence for Young Women from between 1966 and 1980 illustrates both the building's exterior and its interior facilities.
St. Catherine’s Residence was established in 1894 to provide temporary housing to the large numbers of young women moving from rural areas to Milwaukee for jobs or schooling. The home, originally located at 1131 Sycamore Street (later West Michigan St.), was first known as St. Catherine’s Home for Working Girls. It was administered by the… Read More

St. Francis de Sales Seminary

Photograph of Henni Hall, the main building of St. Francis de Sales Seminary, dedicated in 1856.
This institution is the major training facility for Roman Catholic priests who serve in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It also forms young clergy who serve in other parts of Wisconsin and sections of the Midwest. Moreover, some of its graduates are found in Rome and Africa. Although it currently does not support an accredited academic… Read More

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral

Completed in 1958, St. Sava remains a centerpiece of Milwaukee's Serbian Orthodox community.
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

St. Stanislaus Parish

2015 photograph of the front entrance to St. Stanislaus Parish in the historic Mitchell Street District of downtown Milwaukee.
Founded in 1866 as the first Polish parish in Milwaukee (and, perhaps, the first urban Polish church in the United States), St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr served as “the mother church for more than twenty Polish parishes” across the area. A towering, twin-spire church topped by golden domes arose at 5th and Mitchell Street in… Read More

State Forests, Parks, and Trails

This colorful mural on Pierce Street marks an entry point to the Hank Aaron Trail.
Despite its urban location, Milwaukee is a beneficiary of Wisconsin’s investment in protecting natural areas. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manages the state’s forests, parks, and trails. Three are housed in Milwaukee County: Hank Aaron State Trail, Havenwoods State Forest, and Lakeshore State Park. Winding through an area once home to Native Americans and,… Read More

Story Hill

This 1934 photograph displays houses in Story Hill neighborhood, as well as the recently improved intersection of North Story Parkway and West Wisconsin Avenue.
The Story Hill neighborhood is on the west side of the City of Milwaukee. The neighborhood’s boundaries are roughly the Menomonee River to the north, Frederick Miller Way to the south, Hawley Road to the west, and US Highway 41/Miller Park Way to the east. But parts of it extend along Blue Mound Road to… Read More

Street Naming and Numbering

In 1984, the City of Milwaukee renamed different sections of 3rd Street as Old World Third Street and Martin Luther King Drive, reversing a simplification of street name rationalization initiated earlier in the 20th century.
The city of Milwaukee combined three formerly competing villages when it incorporated in 1846. Because the villages had been striving to be unique, each had its own street layout and street-naming scheme. Juneautown, east of the Milwaukee River, was named for its French Canadian fur-trading founder, SOLOMON JUNEAU. Many of its streets were given the… Read More


Picketers try to prevent a car from entering the Allis-Chalmers factory, November 25, 1946.  United Auto Workers Local 248 waged a 13-month strike against the company from April 1946 to May 1947.  This picture was in company testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, February 24, 1947, alleging the union was dominated by Communists.
The U.S. Department of Labor defines a labor strike as “a temporary stoppage of work by a group of workers (not necessarily union members) to express a grievance or enforce a demand.” The prevalence of strike action has waxed and waned over the course of Milwaukee and the nation’s history, as particular industries have grown… Read More

Structure of Local Government

This map of Wisconsin from 1846, two years before it became a state, illustrates how large some counties originally were. Note the absence of Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Kenosha counties.
Any conversation regarding local government in Wisconsin must begin—and ultimately conclude—with mention of the State (or, to be more precise, of the territories of Michigan or Wisconsin, succeeded in time by the State of Wisconsin). In essence, either the state constitution or its statutes determine the purposes, powers, and prerogatives of local governments, down to… Read More

Subcontinental Divide

This map from the U.S. Geological Survey illustrates where the Subcontinental Divide runs through southeastern Wisconsin.
A ridge created by the thawing Wisconsin glacier 10,000 years ago traverses eastern Waukesha County from north to south near the Milwaukee County line. It is a small segment of the Great Lakes Basin boundary, which encompasses all of Michigan and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and the Canadian… Read More


This 1892 map provides a bird's-eye illustration of Wauwatosa and Milwaukee's western suburbs looking east toward the city and Lake Michigan.
In the United States context, suburbs typically are low-rise, residential municipalities beyond the commercial and industrial cores of central cities, sprinkled as they are with denser, older, multi-family housing stock. In the greater Milwaukee area, the processes and motivations for decades of suburbanization were varied and multifaceted. Some suburbs developed as enclaves of professionals and… Read More


This photograph shows the Summerfest grounds as seen from on top the double ferris wheel at the midway, taken in 1972.
Launched in 1968, Summerfest is a multi-day event held in June and July featuring music, food, shopping, and family activities that bring more than 800,000 people to the Henry W. Maier Festival Park on the Milwaukee lakefront. Billed as “The World’s Largest Music Festival” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999, fans of… Read More
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