Browse by Subject

Showing 41-60 of 61 entries


1909 photograph of the R. Gumz & Company and the F.C. Gross Brothers Company meatpacking facilities located on the old intersection of N. Muskego Avenue and Canal Street.
Although now much smaller in scale, meatpacking was one of Milwaukee’s leading industries through much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the most prominent form of food processing in the city. The industry and city grew together as firms slaughtered, processed, and packaged livestock—particularly hogs and cattle—from hinterland farms, distributing products for regional, national,…
Read More

MGIC Investment Corporation

Photograph of the uniquely designed MGIC building taken in 2006. The building forms an upside down pyramid, with each floor constructed to be bigger than the one below it.
MGIC Investment Corporation is the publicly traded parent company of the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC). With roughly 550 Milwaukee-based employees and offices throughout the country, MGIC is the one of the nation’s largest private mortgage insurers. Despite losses due to the subprime mortgage crisis of the early twenty-first century, MGIC has reemerged profitable. The…
Read More

Miller Brewing Company

Postcard advertising Miller Brewing Company's Miller High Life beer.
The Miller Brewing Company is one of Milwaukee’s historic brewing giants, operating in the city from 1855 to the present. A relatively late bloomer compared to other local rivals, Miller was an important innovator in national beer marketing, a significant developer of light beer, and the last of the city’s brewing giants remaining from the…
Read More

Milwaukee Area Labor Council

With the backing of the Milwaukee Labor Council, the Milwaukee 248 Meat Cutters Union went on strike against eight different meatpacking companies.
The Milwaukee Area Labor Council (MALC) traces its roots to the late nineteenth century and the affiliation of Milwaukee trade unions to the then newly-formed American Federation of Labor (AFL). As of 2015, 52,000 union members from over 140 Milwaukee locals in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Washington counties affiliate under the umbrella of the MALC. Waukesha…
Read More

North Chicago Rolling Mill and Illinois Steel

39 employees pose for a photograph at the Bay View Rolling Mill. This photo was taken in 1886, the year of the large and deadly workers' strike.
For just over sixty years, three companies, Milwaukee Iron Company, the North Chicago Rolling Mill, and the Illinois Steel Company operated successively at the same site in Bay View. Called colloquially the Bay View Rolling Mill, these companies produced iron and steel products for customers nationwide, played key roles in Milwaukee’s industrial growth, and employed…
Read More

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company

Photograph of the new Northwestern Mutual Insurance Tower and Commons, which opened in 2017.
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company is one of Milwaukee’s largest corporations, and among the largest life insurance providers, real estate investors, and financial services enterprises in the United States. Maintaining its headquarters in downtown Milwaukee since 1859, the company grew along with the city over time, becoming one of its largest employers and a significant…
Read More

Pabst Brewing Company

Postcard featuring the Pabst Brewing Company production plant.
The Pabst Brewing Company, an early innovator in national beer marketing and production, was one of Milwaukee’s industrial brewing giants, operating in Milwaukee from 1844 to 1996, and the largest brewer in the United States for a much of the late nineteenth century. The company originated as the pioneer brewery of Jacob Best, Sr. and…
Read More

Paul Grottkau

Drawing of Paul Grottkau, circa 1886, by Frederic Heath.
Though he spent less than ten years in Milwaukee, Paul Grottkau (b. 1846, Berlin [Germany], d. 1898, Milwaukee) may have had more impact on the early development of the Milwaukee labor movement than anyone. Employed as a mason in Germany, he became a union leader and outspoken Socialist and was arrested for his writings. In…
Read More

Pfister & Vogel Leather Company

Photograph of the Pfister & Vogel Tanning Company on Water Street taken in 1978.
Tanning magnates Guido Pfister and Frederick Vogel, Sr. migrated separately to the United States from the German Kingdom of Württemberg in the mid-1840s. Both worked briefly at the tannery of Vogel’s cousin in Buffalo, New York, before moving to Milwaukee in 1847. In Milwaukee, Pfister opened a leather retail store on Market Street Square and…
Read More

Printing Industry

Workers running presses at Milwaukee Journal in this 1947 photograph.
Tied largely to newspaper and magazine publishing, Milwaukee’s printing industry formed in the decade prior to the city’s charter and matured into one of the city’s largest industries, becoming a national industry center through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In 1836, Daniel Richards established Milwaukee’s first printing operation near the current corner of Old World…
Read More


Headquartered in Sussex, Quad/Graphics is an international printing giant, focused primarily on magazine and catalogue printing, with multiple plants in the Milwaukee area. Operating from 1971 to the present, Quad/Graphics was a relatively late-bloomer in Milwaukee’s printing industry but became a national industry leader in the late-twentieth century. After graduating from Columbia Law School, Harry…
Read More

Regal Ware Worldwide

Regal Ware employees are gathered together for a group photograph inside the Kewaskum factory.
A privately owned producer of aluminum and stainless steel cookware, Regal Ware Worldwide is headquartered in Washington County. The company employs about 300 workers at its corporate and manufacturing facilities in Kewaskum and West Bend. In 2014, over half of Regal Ware’s sales of its American-made products were in foreign markets. Founded by James O.…
Read More

Rexnord Corporation

The Rexnord Corporation came about due to a merger in the 1970 and over time has become a major supplier of power transmission machinery and water management systems. During the last four decades this company has undergone numerous ownership changes but has maintained its profitability by actively diversifying its product lines and cultivating a strong…
Read More

Robert “Bob” Schilling

Portrait of Robert Schilling, a prominent Milwaukee labor leader and politician in the late nineteenth century.
Robert Schilling (1843-1922) was a significant labor leader and reformist politician in Milwaukee in the late nineteenth century. Born in Osterburg, Saxony, Schilling migrated with his family to St. Louis in 1846. He began work as a cooper at thirteen, and, fluent in both German and English, quickly became a prominent leader of the Coopers’…
Read More

Schlitz Brewing Company

Postcard featuring the Schlitz Brewing company plant.
The Schlitz Brewing Company (1849-1982) was one of Milwaukee’s industrial brewing giants. Marketed as “the beer that made Milwaukee famous,” Schlitz was an important innovator in the national brewing industry and the largest brewery in the United States for a significant part of the twentieth century. The Schlitz Brewing Company originated in August Krug’s pioneer…
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

The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company (TMER&L)

An electric streetcar heads north on Holton Street near E. Garfield Avenue in the early half of the twentieth century.
TMER&L Co. was the first electric streetcar company in the city of Milwaukee. It commenced service in 1890 under the name “The Milwaukee Street Railway,” a business incorporated in New Jersey and owned by the North American Company of New Jersey (an umbrella entity with other municipal streetcar holdings). In that year, North American’s owner,…
Read More


In 1902, Prince Henry of Prussia visited the United States. The younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II is seen here in his carriage in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has hosted many visitors for organizational meetings, major conventions, and personal or business travel throughout its history. The city’s tourism industry grew along with the city, as an array of businesses, organizations, and civic leaders worked both independently and together to attract, accommodate, and ultimately profit from these guests. Milwaukee’s earliest visitors were often…
Read More

William George Bruce

Portrait of William George Bruce sitting at his desk during his tenure as president of the Milwaukee Harbor Board of Commissioners between 1920 and 1949.
William George Bruce (1856-1949), a publisher and civic activist from a largely German North Side ward, was born to Augustus F. and Apollonia (Becker) Bruce on March 17, 1856. Bruce’s paternal grandfather had moved to Milwaukee from New York in 1842, four years before cityhood. A hip ailment left young William an invalid at the…
Read More


1945 photograph of Allis-Chalmers employees assembling WC model tractors in West Allis, highlighting the importance of both heavy manufacturing and agriculture in the Milwaukee area.
“Milwaukee is a workingman’s city,” wrote Frank Flower in his massive 1881 History of Milwaukee. Flower described a community of tradesmen, machinists, and laborers where a typical worker could enjoy, even on wages of a dollar or two a day, “good air, good water, cheap living, and a chance to found a home of his…
Read More