Browse by Subject

Showing 41-60 of 69 Entries

Milwaukee County Institutions

A painted postcard illustrates the grand building of the Milwaukee County Alms House grand building. The multiple-story building features gable and valley roofs. A green landscape spans the foreground.
The Milwaukee County Institutions are a collection of programs, facilities, and complexes that have met a wide variety of county health and quality of life needs. Beginning in Milwaukee’s territorial phase (1835), the county’s care for the poor took the form of outdoor relief. Aid distribution was based on personal situation and overseen by two… Read More

Milwaukee Fire Department

Sepia-colored long shot of firefighters battling a blaze at adjacent multiple-story buildings on the left. Ladders are attached to the buildings. Some firefighters climb on the ladders toward the upper stories of the Hartman Furniture store. Some stand below. Smoke emerges from the store dormer windows, fogging the image's background. Several fire engines are parked on the street. Fire hoses lay on the ground.
For most of the city’s history, the citizens of Milwaukee have relied upon the professionalism of municipal firefighters. And these thousands of dedicated members of the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) have had their traditions, literally, forged in fire. Like most major cities in America, the MFD evolved from a volunteer force organized by concerned citizens.… Read More

Milwaukee Fourteen

Long shot of fourteen men standing arm-in-arm on the center-to-right in grayscale. A blazing fire from burned draft cards is on lower ground in the image's foreground. Milwaukee's buildings soar in the far background.
There were not many selective service protests in Milwaukee during the Vietnam War. However, one of the protests that did take place here became famous throughout the country. On September 24, 1968, fourteen men stole tens of thousands of draft cards from the Brumder Building (now the Germania Building) on West Wells Street. They took… Read More

Milwaukee Mayors


Milwaukee Police Department

Grayscale panoramic view of officers of the Milwaukee Police Department's motorcycle squad posing in a long row. Each is in uniform, standing next to their respective motorbike. A portion of a building's exterior wall is visible in the background.
As of 2013, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is the fifteenth largest in the United States, with nearly 2,000 sworn personnel and over eight hundred civilian employees. Operationally, the MPD is currently organized geographically into three bureaus (South, Central, and North) subdivided into seven patrol districts. Criminal investigations are conducted out of these bureaus, supported… Read More

Nike Anti-Aircraft Missiles

A newspaper clipping showcases a frame containing a simple map with the Nike rocket symbols scattered in eight spots in different regions in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. A caption is written on the bottom of the clipping, outside the frame.
Milwaukee was one of a handful of Midwestern cities equipped with launching stations for Nike anti-aircraft missiles during the 1950s and 1960s. Milwaukee’s defense ring consisted of eight sites, including the lakefront Maitland airstrip. Each site housed up to twelve radar-controlled rockets capable of shooting down planes traveling at supersonic speeds. Beginning in 1958, the… Read More

Non-Partisan Elections

A copy of a rectangular shape campaign poster for Peter Kaminski as a Milwaukee alderman. The poster is divided into three portions. The upper part reads "For a Clean NON-PARTISAN Administration," separated from the central portion by a bold black line. The main portion is the largest. It contains Kaminski's headshot on the left and the text promoting the candidate on the right. The bottom part has a sentence in a small font that reads, "Authorized and paid for by Peter P. Kaminski, 683 Hayes Ave."
The impetus for non-partisan elections at the local level in Wisconsin originated with a fear among Milwaukee Republicans and Democrats that their Socialist competitors might become a sustained political alternative following the election of Emil Seidel in the 1910 mayoral election. Two years later, during the next campaign for mayor, Republicans and Democrats united behind… Read More

Oak Creek Law

A map of Milwaukee County shows the areas of the suburban municipalities that surround the city of Milwaukee. Each area is marked by the municipalities' names written in large fonts. The map also displays lines symbolizing various types of roadways, railroads, public facilities, and the state, county, and civil town boundaries, among others.
The Oak Creek Law narrowly passed the Wisconsin State Legislature in 1955. It dramatically reduced population density requirements for “fourth class city” status within any county containing a “first-class city” (exclusively Milwaukee County in 1955), thereby making it much easier for towns bordering the City of Milwaukee (such as Oak Creek) to incorporate. Residents in… Read More


Photograph of a forest path that runs through Greenfield Park. The trail stretches down at the image's center. Fallen leaves partially cover the ground. The forest is filled with tall trees of different sizes and other low plants. The green color of tree leaves and plants appears prominently in the background.
Milwaukee, like many cities in the United States, grew rapidly throughout the nineteenth century. Civic attention was generally focused on how to accommodate industry and manufacturing. The competition over urban space resulted in high concentrations of industry, followed by densely populated neighborhoods of workers and their families. Parks were not seen as a valuable use… Read More


Grayscale high-angle shot of a massive anti-war crowd gathering in an outdoor space at UWM. Two people sit on the right near the camera lens. Several trees appear among the crowd. Buildings are visible in the far background.
Peace. A word considered by both religious and secular society as an ideal condition for human well-being. Too often, the concept of peace itself is linked to war or stopping war, with less focus on how societies achieve well-being. Peace scholars define peace as an absence: of war and physical or institutional violence. People who… Read More


A sepia-colored photograph of numerous political posters that cover the bottom part of a building's brick wall. Some posters show the candidate's photo. Some are pasted on top of the opponent's posters. The street that stretches next to the building is visible. A wooden post stands in the image's foreground.
Over the course of its political history, Milwaukee has experienced four distinct “party systems,” lasting approximately forty years apiece. During each system, two or more opposing parties have competed, with core constituencies based upon personal identity, ideology, and reactions to state, national, and international developments. Each period began and ended with a “realigning election,” differentiating… Read More

Public Policy

A grayscale photograph of the Milwaukee Common Council chambers interior shows a man speaking at a podium in the right-center to a crowd that fills the room. The crowd in formal attire mostly sits at desks while looking at the speaker. Some stand in the far background. A group of people sits at a long table in the right background. A vintage movie camera, glowing lamps, and the building's pillars are visible.
The term public policy describes decisions by government that affect you as a citizen. To use the contemporary jargon of strategic planning and performance measurement, public policy is the output of government, different from inputs and outcomes. So, we might talk about the Waukesha County Executive proposing to the County Board a new public policy… Read More

Public Policy Forum

Photograph of Milwaukee city landscape in the background and the Milwaukee Art Museum along with the lakefront area in the foreground. The text on the top center of the image reads, "Milwaukee County's Fiscal Condition, Crisis on the Horizon? An independent third-party analysis." The text at the bottom right corner reads "Public Policy Forum."
Milwaukee’s Public Policy Forum is a non-partisan, government watchdog group that since its 1913 founding has continuously provided independent, non-partisan research and analysis of local municipalities’ activities and public policy issues. From its founding until today, the group has wielded great influence with local governments and in the media. The Forum earned a reputation for… Read More

Public Works

An orange-colored Milwaukee public work truck disperses salt on Downer Avenue on a snowy day. The truck faces to the right. The salt is placed in the salt spreader attached to the truck's rear. Snow falls and covers parts of the truck and the street. An area with thicker snow is visible in the foreground. Cars are visible in the foggy background.
The Department of Public Works is one of the largest administrative divisions of Milwaukee’s city government, but this was not always so. Even after the city incorporated in 1846, officials only gradually expanded government services to meet the needs of citizens. By 1871, the city had no water works, few paved streets, and a very… Read More

Relief and Welfare

Grayscale high-angle shot of four women working around a long table full of crochet rugs. The faces of three women are visible in this image. The women on the left and right are sitting, and the one in the middle is standing. The fourth woman's back is partially visible in the image's foreground. Other tables with people working on rugs appear in the background.
Throughout its history Milwaukee has seen shifting and complex interplays among local, state, and federal government policies regarding support provided to needy families through work relief and financial aid welfare payments. Three periods in the last century highlight competing theories about work relief and welfare support that operated in Milwaukee. In the Great Depression years… Read More

Republican Party

Grayscale long shot of John Kleczka standing in suit and site on an elevated platform surrounded by wooden railings. Four men sit on benches set in the arena. Kleczka opens his arms while talking to audiene members in formal attire who stand in the image's foreground. The audience's rear bodies are visible. Several people stand with their backs to Kleczka, and their faces appear in this photo. Residential buildings and lush trees are in the far background.
The Milwaukee Republican Party (MRP) was founded during the tumultuous 1850s as the nation was careening headlong into the Civil War. In a bewildering sequence, the Great Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Kansas Civil War, and the Dred Scott decision cumulatively obliterated all federal control over the expansion of slavery. Restoring that authority was the… Read More

Social Development Commission

Entrance to the Social Development Commission building. The organization's name sign is placed above the door. Bricks and stones compose the exterior wall.
The Social Development Commission (SDC) is the largest of eighteen members of the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association, with responsibility to develop and oversee programs designed to improve the quality of life for low-income Milwaukeeans. Created in 1963 by state statute, the Commission involved the collaboration of civic organizations including the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee… Read More


Grayscale elevated shot of Mayor Daniel Hoan standing to the left in the image's center while giving a speech to a massive crowd of strikers in an outdoor space at the Seaman Auto Body plant. Mayor Hoan stands on a higher platform than the crowd who are looking up at him.
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

Solomon Juneau

A painted portrait of Solomon Juneau facing left in formal attire. Beneath the drawing reads "Solomon Juneau at the Age of 60 (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

Structure of Local Government

A map of Wisconsin inside a frame. The map illustrates regions in Wisconsin marked in different colors to show their borders. Each region's name is written inside its borderlines. The largest areas are "St Croix" in green, which borders Michigan, and "Crawford" in yellow, which borders Michigan and Iowa. Both are in Northern Wisconsin.
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