history

Milwaukee County Historical Society

On this week’s Bubbler Talk, question asker Craig Steitz wanted to know about the history of music stores in Milwaukee.

Holocaust Museum Los Angeles

Erich Lichtblau-Leskly was one of around 140,000 Jewish people forced into Theresienstadt, a ghetto-labor and transit camp, by the Nazis during the Holocaust. While facing the horrors of imprisonment and working as a slave in the camp, Leskly created art to document life in Theresienstadt.

Pabst Mansion

  

In 2005, long-lost letters from the famed Pabst and Best families, written from 1841 to 1887, were found at Pabst Farms in Oconomowoc. Once discovered, they were moved to the basement of the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee and the content of those letters wouldn’t be known until 15 years later.

In the 19th century, Wisconsin’s Territorial Legislature divided Milwaukee County into seven townships. Five of them eventually became municipalities: Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Greenfield, Franklin, and Oak Creek.

Wikimedia Commons

Milwaukee is known for being a city of neighborhoods. From Bay View on the south side and Washington Heights to the west, each neighborhood has a story — including the Borchert Field neighborhood on the city’s north side. The neighborhood got its name from an athletic field that spanned 8th Street to the west, 7th Street to the east, Chambers to the south and Burleigh to the north. I-43 now runs through the middle of what used to be.

COURTESY OF CHERENE SHERRARD

In 2021, Black women are still fighting a historic battle — challenging racism and misogyny, and demanding equality and justice.

Poet Cherene Sherrard digs into these themes through creative writing. Sherrard is a professor of 19th and 20th century American and African American literature at UW-Madison. Her latest collection of poems is titled "Grimoire."

NPR

  

In the NPR podcast Throughline, co-hosts Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah take listeners back in time to understand news stories of the present.

While neither of the hosts are historians, they say that's the point of the podcast.

“It’s much more relatable," says Arablouei. "It’s not that we’ve studied these issues for years, it’s that we’ve gone on this journey and we want you to come with us and along the way we hear from people who have studied these issues for many years.”

Paul Haubrich / Forest Home Cemetery

Cemeteries are not just for dead bodies; they contain a wide range of art meant to symbolize both the feeling of mourning and grief but also to create a space for those who have died to be remembered for what they did in their lives.

This genre of art exploded in popularity in the United States during the Victorian Era from the 1870s to the 1910s. During this time many of the popular symbols in cemetery art were created. For example, the use of leaves like oak leaves to describe upstanding citizens or lilies for those who were pure of heart.

Tom Parker / Wikimedia Commons

The internment of Americans with Japanese ancestry during World War II is part of this nation’s dark history of racial discrimination. These stories have often been hidden, both by the country that committed the injustices and the people who were forced to endure them.

Courtesy of Milwaukee County Historical Society

Parades are an essential part of the holiday season. Whether it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a local parade full of friends and neighbors, parades allow communities to celebrate through music, costumes and over the top floats.

For many years in Milwaukee, Schuster's Holiday Parade was the pinnacle of the season. From 1927 through 1961, the parade drew hundreds of thousands of people in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods and featured live reindeer at the head of Santa’s sleigh.

Jennie Augusta Brownscombe / Wikimedia Commons

Even though Thanksgiving will be different for many us because of the pandemic, we can still appreciate the history behind the meal — so long as it’s accurate. Culinary historian Kyle Cherek talks about some of the historical misconceptions we have about Thanksgiving, and why it’s important to set the record straight.

“[Thanksgiving] has become part of our national mythology but the early beginnings of it are not what children sing,” he says.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Magazine

During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” sought to ease the pain of many Americans and put them back to work. His Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed millions of Americans to rebuild essential infrastructure like parks, roads, and housing.

But the vast majority of these jobs went to unskilled men and most opportunities for women required an education. A program here in Milwaukee worked to change that. The Milwaukee Handicrafts Project hired unskilled women to mend text books, build furniture and sew dolls, among other things.

Courtesy of Globe Pequot

History can sometimes feel like a dry topic. A world made up of men in white wigs and pressed coats making important and dispassionate decisions.

In reality, there have always been scandals that have shaped our collective history – including here in Wisconsin. Author Anna Lardinois writes about many of these defining moments in her new book, “Storied & Scandalous Wisconsin: A History of Mischief and Menace, Hero and Heartbreak”.

Courtesy of Dick Wagner's collection

It’s a common misconception that most LGBTQ history and activism occurred on the east and west coasts. But Wisconsin has actually been a national leader with its pioneering set of legislative victories.

Church History Library / The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Teacher, lawyer, editor, prophet, pirate, state legislator, historian, and "King of Earth and Heaven." These titles all belonged to one man: James Strang. 

In 1843, the young lawyer and avowed atheist Strang fled rural New York and reappeared in what is now Burlington, Wis. While in the Midwest he converted to a new religious movement called Mormonism. Following the murder of church founder Joesph Smith, Strang claimed that the prophet named him the successor.

Sara Tomilin

As we continue to look for things to do outdoors during the pandemic, one of Milwaukee’s first parks, Forest Home Cemetery, hopes to become a place for safe and socially distant leisure. The idea of going to a cemetery for recreation may seem odd, but in its peak popularity, Forest Home attracted thousands of visitors a day to picnic or walk around the gardens, fountains, and monuments.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Tuesday marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which grants women the right to vote in the United States. Images of older, white women in victorian dress marching in the streets may come to mind, but there were many more women involved in securing the right to vote.

Courtesy of the H.H. Bennett Studio and Museum

What comes to mind when you think of the Wisconsin Dells? Among the water parks and the pancakes at the Paul Bunyan restaurant, you may think of the Dells’ unique landscape with narrow gorges defined by steep, sandstone bluffs.

Before the Dells became a tourist destination, it was known as Kilbourn City. But H.H. Bennett opened a photography studio there in 1865, and soon his landscape photography of the area helped make it into a top tourist destination.

Netflix

June is Pride month in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Greenwich Village, New York. The riots against police brutality and oppression were largely led by LGBTQ people of color. One of those leaders was Marsha P. Johnson, a gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen.

>> Stonewall: The Hidden History Of Gay Rights

Courtesy of Gothic Milwaukee

As businesses continue to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, there are still concerns about how to do it safely. For most places, that means limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time, spacing out tables, and taping down socially distant spots to stand in line. But that can be a bit tricky when your business model depends on going in and out of other businesses, surrounded by a crowd of people. 

Austin Public Library / Public domain

For many Americans, when they mention Independence Day, they’re talking about July 4, which commemorates the Declaration of Independence. But for African Americans, a different date signifies independence: June 19, 1865.

The date has been referred to as Freedom Day, Black Independence Day, or most commonly, Juneteenth. 

Wisconsin is one of at least 40 states that observe Juneteenth Day. Milwaukee was one of the first cities in the north to celebrate it; there's been an annual festival for over 40 years.

Courtesy of Milwaukee Journal

The recent protests in Milwaukee have drawn a lot of comparisons with the Civil Rights protests in the 1960s. Most notably, activists marched for 200 consecutive nights from 1967 to 1968 to protest the city’s fair housing standards.

Milwaukee County Historical Society

Throughout United States history, Milwaukee and Wisconsin have been politically significant. And Milwaukee has an interesting political past you may not know about: socialists ran the city for nearly half of the 20th century. One of the most notable was Mayor Daniel Hoan, who served for a consecutive 24 years — the longest socialist administration in U.S. history.

Wikimedia Commons

"Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs!"

Even if it's been years since you’ve tasted SpaghettiOs, the jingle is probably ingrained in your brain. It was 55 years ago this month that the famous “neat, round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon” hit the shelves. And it’s all thanks to Donald Goerke, a Waukesha native and UW-Madison graduate.

The Story Of The First Black-Owned Home In Wauwatosa

Feb 24, 2020
Gerald Williamson

All Zeddie Hyler wanted to do in 1955 was build a home in Wauwatosa, Wis. But that wasn’t easy for a black man to do at the time. 

Hyler had to overcome many obstacles — like angry neighbors concerned about property values, and vandals. He even had to get a white friend to buy the property for him before he could even begin to build. Once the building began that’s when the vandals and arsonists hit.     

But his persistence paid off: Hyler became the first black man to build a home in Wauwatosa. When he died in 2004 he left the home to his nephew, Gerald Williamson.

Screenshot / YouTube / "Shipwrecks Of Milwaukee" / Milwaukee PBS

There are more than 750 shipwrecks in Wisconsin waters and each is its own time capsule. The new documentary Shipwrecks Of Milwaukee, presented by 10ThirtySix, explores some of these sunken vessels. The short film follows divers into the deep to explore what can be learned from these disasters frozen in time. 

"One thing that makes Milwaukee unique is that whether you're from here, or whether you're from somewhere else, there's this intrigue and this love of Lake Michigan that really brings everyone together," says producer Traci Neuman. 

Baker & Godwin / Wikimedia Commons

In 1850, a magazine declared John C. Frémont as one of the three most important world historical figures since Jesus Christ.

Wait, John who?

Most of us don’t recall the name Frémont from our history lessons even though you can find a “Frémont” village, river, hotel, or school throughout the country. But John Frémont was very much a part of westward expansion, mapping America, the Civil War, and the origins of the Republican Party.

Galicia Jewish Museum

Seventy-five years ago, Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland was liberated by the Russian Army. The days that followed were filled with chaos, as liberators grappled with how to care for those still alive in the camp. There were warehouses full of stolen goods, like shoes, glasses, and other personal items. And somewhere, in all of the turmoil, there was a small school book: a diary belonging to Rywka Lipsyzc.

Olivia Richardson

Larissa Sevick was driving when she noticed that a lot of houses in certain Milwaukee neighborhoods have a flight of stairs leading up to the front entrance. Instead of being at street level, the houses are on hills. Why? That's what we explore in our latest Bubbler Talk.

The subject also intrigues Jonathan Bohrer — he even created a history podcast episode on the homes that caught Larissa's attention. Jonathan is a UWM master's degree candidate in public history and gives tours of the historic Brady Street neighborhood.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr

When you look at a map of Wisconsin, it’s covered in names that remind us of this country’s original inhabitants. Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, Kinnickinnic — all words derived from Native American languages.

Another is Oconomowoc, about 30 miles west of Milwaukee. This week’s Bubbler Talk questioner, Jeff Dittel, moved there about two and a half years ago.

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