Roman Kwasniewski

Roman B.J. Kwasniewski was born June 10, 1886 in Chicago, Illinois to Jozef and Wanda (Dyniewicz) Kwasniewski. The family moved to Milwaukee in the 1890s. Roman was educated at Milwaukee public schools until he was ten years old. He attended St. Hyacinth’s parochial school (1898-1900), South Division High School (1900-1904), and Marquette University (1926-1928). In 1913, he opened Park Studio at 1024 West Lincoln Avenue; he closed the business in the mid-1940s. Kwasniewski married Mary Drozniakiewicz, and the couple had three children: Edward, Adele, and Roman. Roman B.J. Kwasniewski passed away in May 1980.

Roman Kwasniewski Photographs

From his studio on Lincoln Avenue, Roman Kwasniewski captured important events in the lives of thousands of Polish-Americans: First Communions, Confirmations, graduations, weddings, and anniversaries. He was widely regarded as his community’s premiere photographer. In addition to his commercial portrait work, Kwasniewski took thousands of pictures of the community in which he lived. His photos show Milwaukee’s Polish-American community during its most cohesive period. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries acquired the physical collection in February 1979 with the assistance of Polanki, the Polish Women’s Club of Milwaukee, and Kwasniewski’s daughter, Adele, and her husband, John Kaczmarowski. It includes over 29,000 negatives, 6,000 prints, as well as lantern slides, photographic postcards, and business documents. It was opened for research in May 1991.

Milwaukee Polonia Digital Collection

The scope of the Milwaukee Polonia digital collection includes all negatives and prints not matched to negatives. The project – from digitization to metadata description and finally, to website development – began in August 2012 and ended in June 2014. All 5×7 and 4×5 glass negatives were digitally captured using a Nikon D800 camera and an innovative “rail system.” (See Digitizing Milwaukee’s Polonia: the Digital Assembly Line.) TIFF images were captured as greyscale at a resolution of 600-900 dpi. Other size glass negatives, lantern slides, and photographic postcards and prints were imaged on a flatbed scanner. Kwasniewski sometimes wrote a job number or name in the margin of a glass negative on the emulsion side. Although this information would have cropped out when he printed the image, we have retained it in the digital collection. However, it appears in reverse because this is the way he would have printed the image. Metadata was largely taken from an in-house database created by archivists when the physical collection was processed in the early 1990s. Digitization project staff created additional metadata for the most frequently consulted images in the collection (about 20%). The collection was officially opened at Polish Fest in Milwaukee on June 13, 2014.

In 2015, the Polish American Congress–Wisconsin Division recognized the Milwaukee Polonia digital collection with its prestigious Congressman Clement J. Zablocki “Civic Achievement Award.”

Project Team Members

Michael DoylenAssistant Director of Libraries
Angella FlattGraduate Student
Allyse FreemanGraduate Student
Tracy GarvensGraduate Student
Anne GaynorProject Coordinator
Ann HanlonHead of Digital Collections & Initiatives
Anastasia HansonGraduate Student
Dan HauckProject Archivist
Nathan HumpalCatalog and Metadata Librarian
Molly KahnProject Coordinator
Elisabeth KauneGraduate Student
Catherine LoomisLibrary Services Assistant
Jim LowreyAssistant Director of Libraries
Ling MengDigitization Librarian
Charles TonelliGraduate Student


Gary Barczak
Jerome Barczak
Maxine Barczak Rappaport
Ewa Barczyk
Zofia and Victor Barczyk
Ada Dziewanowska
Mike Fojut
Teresa and Wieslaw Frankowski
Luz and Raul Hernandez
Kris Gerke Komes
Nancy and Dennis Jaeger, in memory of the Paradowski and Fabiszak families
Steve Janiszewski
Kris Jarantoski
Eugene L. Kaluzny
Jadwiga Krol
Thomas Krukowski
Maryann and Christopher Marowski
Susan Modder
Eileen K. Panacek
Donald E. Pienkos
Anita and Robert Pietrykowski
Helena Pycior
Thomas Radoszewski
Bianca H. Rogozinski
Irene and Barry Riggs, in memory of William Kowalkowski
Susan and Anthony Smyczek
Christine Vollmer
Michael Wabiszewski
Mary and Francis Wisielewski
Arlene Wroblewski
Dr. Nathaniel Zelazo
Henryka Ziolkowski
Boswell Book Company
Friends of the Golda Meir Library
The Herzfeld Foundation
Polanki: The Polish Women’s Cultural Club of Milwaukee

Faculty Advisors

Jasmine AlinderAssociate Professor, History
Rachel BuffAssociate Professor, History
Michael GordonAssociate Professor Emeritus, History
Gregory JayProfessor, English
Neal PeaseProfessor, History
Donald PienkosProfessor Emeritus, Political Science
Amanda SeligmanAssociate Professor, History