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Spring 2004
No. 45


Digital Milwaukee: 100 Years of the City’s Neighborhoods Online
Archives Photo Collection Featured in New Book
Gay and Lesbian Business Association Records Saved
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Digital Milwaukee: 100 Years of the City’s Neighborhoods Online

Milwaukee River Downtown 1895The UWM Libraries have recently completed an extensive online digital collection titled Milwaukee Neighborhoods: Photos and Maps 1885-1992.The collection presents 638 images of Milwaukee's neighborhoods from the Far Northwest Side to the Far South Side, providing a visual documentation of the development of the city.

Drawn from the collections of the American Geographical Society Library and the Archives Department at the UWM Libraries, the project includes photographs of residential and industrial facilities, Milwaukee River Downtown 1989local businesses, historic buildings, churches, and numerous Milwaukee parks, as well as 12 historic maps. Judith Kenny, UWM associate professor of geography, contributed an article, "Picturing Milwaukee Neighborhoods," to the site.

Krystyna Matusiak, UWM Libraries Digital Collections Librarian, led the project, and was assisted by members of the Libraries staff and student workers. The site may be accessed at http://www.uwm.edu/Library/digilib/Milwaukee/index.html


Archives Photo Collection Featured in New Book

Christel MaassRoman B. J. Kwasniewski was a successful South Side commercial photographer who created a vast number of images between 1911 and 1947, mostly from his Park Studio on Lincoln Avenue.

But his work was largely forgotten until 1978 when UWM history faculty member Donald Pienkos and UWM Libraries staff--at the invitation of Kwasniewski's son-in-law--discovered more than 25,000 glass-plate negatives and 5,000 prints at the soon-to-be-sold Park Studio building.

Private financing was arranged and the collection, well-organized and in excellent condition, was transferred to the UWM Archives, where it has become one of the Libraries' most popular resources.

Now a book about the photographs Illuminating the Particular: Photographs of Milwaukee's Polish South Side has been published by UWM Archivist Christel Maass, who says she first encountered the collection in 1990 as a student worker in the Libraries.

In 1996, Maass began contributing a photo caption feature to the Small Business Times, often focusing on Kwasniewski's images. Her new book, she says, contains many of those business-related photos. St. Josaphat's Basilica

Illuminating the Particular includes an introduction by local historian John Gurda and an afterword by Pienkos, and contains over 100 black-and-white photographs, documenting the family, religious, social, and commercial life of the Polish neighborhood.

Created by Kwasniewski mostly on commission, the images range from a butcher shop interior to an ornate theater facade, from children in an orphanage to the Polish National Alliance bowling team. There is a formal studio portrait of a state senator and his wife, and an on-the-scene accident photo (probably taken for insurance purposes).

What makes the collection invaluable and unique, Maass says, is that "it really covered all aspects of Kwasniewski's South Side Polish neighborhood. That," she adds, "and the fact that it was saved."

For more information on the Kwasniewski Photographic Collection, call the UWM Archives at (414) 229-5402 or email archives@uwm.edu

More information on the book may be found at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/publications/books/illuminating.asp

Steven Burnham top

Gay and Lesbian Business Association Records Saved

Part of Milwaukee's gay and lesbian history was about to be destroyed. When UWM Archivist Michael Doylen first saw the records of the Cream City Business Association (CCBA) in November 2003, most were stuffed into black, plastic garbage bags, headed for a dumpster in the alley.

Don Schwamb and Michael DoylenCCBA was an affiliation of local LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) business owners and service providers that was active in the 1980s. The organization's records had been stored at the PrideFest offices on 1st and Walker, but were now in danger of being destroyed as PrideFest moved to a new, smaller location.

A last-minute tip came from the Milwaukee LGBT History Project, a volunteer organization committed to documenting the story of Milwaukee's LGBT community. The records needed a permanent home, and the UWM Archives was pleased to save them as a research resource documenting Milwaukee's LGBT history.

With the help of the History Project, the Archives also recently acquired these collections of LGBT-related records and artifacts:

  • ACT UP Milwaukee Records, 1990-1996. From 1989 to the mid-1990s, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) Milwaukee demonstrated to protect the rights of HIV+ individuals, promoted safe sex, raised awareness of AIDS, and advocated increased funding for AIDS services and education.
  • Cream City Foundation (CCF) Records, 1983-[ongoing]. For more than two decades, the Cream City Foundation has raised and distributed funds to LGBT groups located in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Milwaukee LGBT History Project Oral Interviews, 2003. Interviews conducted by the Milwaukee LGBT History Project with community activists, leaders, founders, and individuals from all walks of life.
  • LGBT Button and Pin Collection, 1990-ongoing.

The Special Collections department has also made significant additions to its library of gay and lesbian fiction, local newspapers such as InStep and Wisconsin Light, PrideFest guides, and other print publications.

All of these materials fill an immediate need for UWM faculty and students in the UWM Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program, and the History, Women's Studies, and Political Science departments. They are also available for use by members of the general public.

If you have materials relating to Milwaukee's LGBT community, please contact Michael Doylen, UWM Archives department head, at 229-6980, or Max Yela, Special Collections department head, at 229-4335.

Steven Burnham, Editor, sburnham@uwm.edu
Krystyna Matusiak, Newsletter designer

Copyright 2004 by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, All Rights Reserved.
Created: April 21, 2004
Page Contact: sburnham@uwm.edu