The Milwaukee Neighborhoods collection presents images of Milwaukee neighborhoods from the Far Northwest Side to the Far South Side. The selection of images is limited by the current boundaries of the city of Milwaukee. The digital collection provides a visual documentation of the development of the city of Milwaukee from the mid-1880s to the early 1990s. It includes images of residential and industrial facilities, local businesses, historic buildings, churches, and numerous Milwaukee parks. 832 photographs were selected from the collections of the American Geographical Society Library, Special Collections, and the Archives Department at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Libraries. The photos of Milwaukee from 1885 and 1895 come from two rare books in the holdings of Special Collections: Milwaukee and Art Work of Milwaukee. The images of Milwaukee in the 20th century were selected from three extensive photograph collections: Roman Kwasniewski Collection and Dennis Wierzba Collection that are housed in the Archives, and Harold Mayer Collection, located in the American Geographical Society Library at UWM Libraries. The image collection is accompanied by 12 maps of Milwaukee from the holdings of the American Geographical Society Library.

Milwaukee and Art Work of Milwaukee

These books include photos and a few sketches of Milwaukee from the end of the 19th century. The first book, Milwaukee, consists of 100 plates. The copy in Special Collections at UWM Libraries does not have a title page, therefore the publication date or the name of the publisher can not be determined. Research of the scanned images, however, indicates that most of the photographs were taken around 1885. The two volumes of Art Work of Milwaukee were published in 1895 in Chicago by W.H. Parish Publishing Co.

The Roman Kwasniewski Collection

Roman Kwasniewski, a son of Polish immigrants, was a photographer who worked in the Polish-American community on the South Side of Milwaukee. Most of the pictures were created by Kwasniewski at his Park Studio on Lincoln Avenue. The collection consists of more than 30,000 glass-plate negatives and five thousand prints. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee acquired the collection from Adele and John Kaczmarowski, Kwasniewski’s daughter and son-in-law with financial assistance from Polanki – the Polish Women’s Cultural Club of Milwaukee. Representative Walter Kunicki and Senator John Plewa secured state funding for the processing of the collection. 240 photographs from the years 1910 – 1944 were chosen for the digital collection. The images were scanned from the glass negatives when possible. The entire Roman Kwasniewski collection was digitized in 2014 and is accessible as the Milwaukee Polonia digital collection.

The Harold Mayer Collection

Harold Mayer was a professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and one of the leading scholars in the field of urban geography in the twentieth century. He specialized in the Urban and Transport Geography of North America with a focus on New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, and British Columbia. Of the approximately 50,000 slides in the Harold Mater Collection, 217 color slides were selected for Milwaukee Neighborhoods. These images show Milwaukee in the years 1948 – 1992. Mayer’s images of transportation are included in another digital collection created at UWM Libraries: Transportation Around the World: 1911 -1993.

The Dennis Wierzba Collection

Dennis Wierzba (1900 – 1993) was an amateur photographer who focused his camera on social and family events, documenting life in Milwaukee in the 1940s and 1950s, particularly on the city’s south side. Many images portray family and life events, including anniversaries, confirmations, funerals, holidays, parties, and weddings. The collection also includes images of parades and religious processions that took place in downtown Milwaukee or on Milwaukee’s south side. For this digital project, 194 images were selected from the Dennis Wierzba Negatives Collection and scanned from film negatives. The images were added to the Milwaukee Neighborhoods collection in May, 2008.