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Aerial shot of Menomonee Valley in grayscale tone. The image shows a busy industrial area. Visible from afar are two long highways, crossing over two large sets of railroad tracks partially occupied by trains. Different kinds of industrial infrastructure appear in the foreground and background of the photograph. A portion of a residential area is visible on the bottom right of this photograph.
The Early Years In many ways Milwaukee is a metropolitan area typical of the industrial Midwest. The arc of its development and growth mirrors the arc of other cities in the region, including Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit. Milwaukee had its beginnings in the 1830s when a few settlers established residence on the western banks of… Read More

Educational Segregation and Desegregation

Grayscale full shot of a woman holding a child's hand in their warm clothes as they walk the sidewalk with protest signs hanging from their necks. The sign reads, "Stop School Segregation Now! CORE" The O in the word STOP is in the shape of a hexagon stop sign with the word STOP written in it.
The Milwaukee metropolitan area is often classified as the most racially segregated metropolitan area in the United States. This segregated residence pattern resulted in racially segregated schools in the Milwaukee area. African Americans began to settle in Milwaukee increasingly after 1900. Most rented homes in a nine-square block area north of downtown. They were employed… Read More

Effigy Mounds

Vintage map of Milwaukee displaying the location of ancient works, including effigy mounds. Black markings drawn on different areas on the map indicate the location of the mounds. Information written on the right side of the map says, "Ancient Works in the Vicinity of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Surveyed 1836-1852 by I. A. Lapham."
Milwaukee was Native American land until the 1830s. The Potawatomi lived in the area in the early 19th century but lost their lands as a result of coerced treaties that forced them to cede the territory to the United States for American settlers. Most of these people were removed west to a reservation in Kansas,… Read More

Eight-Hour Movement

Sepia-colored wide shot of Illinois Steel employees standing in front of the rolling mill building. Most of them carry a work tool while posing for this photograph.The building is a one story rectangular brick building with a peaked roof. The building has several windows, including a circular pane in the triangular peak above the main door, which stands ajar.
An eight-hour day movement flourished for several decades after the Civil War and united thousands of Milwaukee and other American workers who otherwise differed by skill, occupation, race, gender, and ethnicity. Often working ten or twelve hours a day, workers said they needed more time for rest and to be with their families, and insisted… Read More

Eldon Murray

Headshot of Eldon Murray smiling in formal attire and glasses, making eye contact with the camera lens. Murray wears a black suit, a red tie, and a white dress shirt.
Eldon Murray (1930-2007) was a nationally-recognized figure in the gay rights movement. Murray was born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana. He relocated to Chicago at age 18 and later served in the Korean War. He settled in Milwaukee in 1955, where he began a career as a stockbroker. Murray’s local activism began in 1969, after… Read More

Elmbrook Church

Exterior view of Elmbrook Church against a clear blue sky. The church's unique roof stands out in the distance. A group of trees hides a portion of the building's front side. The roofline heads to a peak that culminates in a giant cross. The church's monument signage sits on a green lawn that separates the church area from the roadway in the foreground.
With over 3,200 members and more than 5,500 people attending any one of four weekend services, non-denominational Elmbrook Church in suburban Brookfield is the largest unaffiliated religious congregation in the state of Wisconsin. What began in 1956 with five families gathering for prayer in hopes of starting “a gospel-preaching church,” initially operated as the First… Read More

Emil Seidel

A grayscale family portrait features Emil Seidel in a suit and bow tie standing between two people. The woman on the right sits in a gown. She lay her hands on a table next to her. A young girl in a dress stands on the left. Her left hand touches the tabletop. They all make eye contact with the camera lens.
The first socialist to govern a major American city, Emil Seidel (1864-1947) served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912. “Earnest, upright, and plain-spoken,” the former pattern-maker and alderman was a pragmatic politician who appealed to working-class voters. Seidel’s administration focused on efficiency and economy. Working closely with organized labor, the mayor and his… Read More


Grayscale photograph of a bridge standing tall above mountains of coal. The name sign of "Milwaukee Western Fuel" stretches horizontally on the far side of the bridge's structure.
Energy has many different forms. Over the years, businesses and homes in the Milwaukee region have relied on a broad variety of energy types to fuel daily activities, from illuminating, heating and cooling homes, for travel and transport, and for manufacturing and commercial activities. Energy has the remarkable quality that it can be neither created… Read More


Sepia-colored long shot of Episcopal Social Center's facade facing slightly to left on a street corner. The front section, which consists of two-and-a-half stories, features an entrance and multiple three-pointed arched windows. The Center's name signage hangs on top of the front door and on the exterior wall facing the other roadside. Cars are parked in the left foreground, next to the building.
The Episcopal Church traces its establishment in Wisconsin to the early 1820s, when the Oneida Indians of New York were relocated to a reservation at Duck Creek, Wisconsin—very near Green Bay. Accompanying the Indians was Eleazer Williams, who in 1826 was ordained a deacon in the church and who ministered to the Duck Creek community.… Read More

Eschweiler Buildings

Long shot of the former Milwaukee County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy building. The multiple-story abandoned structure has its windows and doors covered. A barren wide yard and leafless trees are set in front of the building.
The Eschweiler & Eschweiler architectural firm was one of the most prolific in Milwaukee’s history, designing everything from community spaces, private homes, and places of worship, to industrial factories and commercial buildings. Some of their most notable buildings include the MILWAUKEE GAS LIGHT BUILDING, the MILWAUKEE ARENA, the Wisconsin Telephone Co. Building, the Milwaukee County… Read More

Evangelical Deaconess Hospital

Postcard of the Evangelical Deaconess Hospital located on Wisconsin Avenue from the 1940s.
In 1909, the synod of the Evangelical Church, a predecessor of the United Church of Christ, founded a Deaconess Society in the German tradition that called on Christian Sisters to offer hospital care to Milwaukee’s sick and needy. The fifteen-bed unit established by the Society in 1910 on what is now West Wisconsin Avenue grew… Read More

Falk Corporation

High-angle shot of Falk Corporation's interior in a grayscale tone shows a group of employees working with molten metal. Fire sparks splash from under giant metal buckets that hang from overhead tracks.
Situated in the heart of the Menomonee Valley, the Falk Corporation has been a fixture of Milwaukee’s industrial landscape for over 120 years. Family-owned until the late 1960s, the company developed a reputation as both “a good name in industry” and a good place to work. Focusing on the production of gears, Falk helped modernize… Read More


Grayscale family portrait of the Uszlers and their 13 children in dresses and suits. Louis E. and Wanda Uszler and three small children sit in the middle. Older children stand side by side surrounding their parents. Everyone's clothes are elegant. Wanda Uszler wears a pearl necklace and Louis Uszler wears a boutonniere.
The “family” is a core institution of all known human societies. There are a variety of definitions, reflecting the complexity of the concept. At its simplest, the family is “a group of persons united by the ties of marriage, blood, or adoption,” who usually, but not necessarily, live together in a “household.” More expansive definitions… Read More

Festa Italiana

Grayscale high-angle shot of the 1980 Festa Italiana procession winding through a huge crowd of people. Some participants carry Italian and American flags, religious statues, and banners.
Festa Italiana, held annually since 1978, represented the first of Milwaukee’s modern ethnic festivals and an effort to recapture the spirit of a vanishing community. In the 1960s, Milwaukee’s urban renewal plans led to the demolition of Our Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. By the time the little pink church had… Read More


Grayscale long shot of three men in suits and ties standing beside a booth selling one-dollar festival buttons. The seller's face appears from behind the ticket window.
Festivals have long been a major part of the cultural, social, and economic fabric of Milwaukee. Early festivals were often celebrations of a shared ethnic heritage. As the turn of the century approached, city leaders recognized the potential of these events to draw visitors from across the nation, and Milwaukee began to emerge as a… Read More


A group of people in front of a row of lockers pose in yellow shirts. They make different hand gestures and smile.
The arrival of Filipinos in the Milwaukee metropolitan area took place after World War II. The Philippines were a United States colonial possession from the end of the Spanish American War in 1898 until the South Pacific nation gained its independence in 1946. Although the U.S. government denied naturalization rights to Filipino migrants during these… Read More


Long shot of a single-story Finnish log house featuring an enclosed entrance and rectangular windows. A brick chimney atop the roof releases soft grey smoke. A ladder lies on the roof's surface on the left. Another wooden ladder is positioned below it, leaning on the exterior wall. Green trees surround the sides and back of the cabin. A simple bench made of logs sits on the front green lawn.
Finns started to arrive in Wisconsin and Milwaukee in the final decade of the nineteenth century and the first two in the twentieth, though Milwaukee’s Finnish immigration increased most rapidly between 1910 and 1930. The Finnish ancestry population was small. In 1930, about 1,400 people in the Milwaukee metro area reported their father’s birthplace was… Read More

First Stage Children’s Theater

On-stage performance featuring a small group of actors in colorful clothes and expressive gestures. They act in standing position on an indoor stage filled with vintage properties and a huge mural painting in the background.
First Stage Children’s Theater was founded in 1987 when the Milwaukee Performing Arts Center formed a group to provide arts education to the children of Milwaukee and southern Wisconsin. According to its website, from a class of 350 in 1987, First Stage has grown into one of the largest youth theater groups in the nation… Read More

Fiserv Forum

Long-shot of the Fiserv Forum exterior showcases its front and side view and the swooping roof. The Milwaukee Bucks monument sign appears next to the facade. A concrete pedestrian area is visible in the foreground.
Opened in 2018, the Fiserv Forum is the home of the Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette University Men’s Basketball, and an array of other sports and entertainment events. It is located at 1111 Vel R. Phillips Avenue, directly north of the site of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, which it replaced as Milwaukee’s primary sports and entertainment… Read More

Florentine Opera Company

A group of male actors gathers in a semi-circle surrounding a man standing on a table in a bright red sweater. Members of the crowd show different facial expressions in their vintage clothes. Some gaze up at the actor in red. The background is pitch black, and the floors are in a checkerboard design.
As one of Wisconsin’s oldest professional music organizations, this company earned the city national recognition for over seventy years. Formed in 1933 as the Italian Chorus at the Jackson Street Social Center, according to one source, the group originally intended to attract immigrants to English language classes that would prepare them for American citizenship. Their… Read More
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