Skip to main content

About the Milwaukee Neighborhoods Collection

Milwaukee Neighborhoods: Photos and Maps 1885 - 1992 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

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

Photo of Kwasniewski
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 25,000 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 Harold Mayer Collection

Photo of Mayer

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

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.




832 images in various formats and medium were selected for scanning. The color slides in the Harold Mayer Collection were scanned at 4,000 dpi resolution using a Nikon 4000 ED film scanner. The glass negatives in the Roman Kwasniewski Collection were scanned at 1,200 dpi resolution using a Microtek ScanMaker E6 flatbed scanner with a transparency adapter. The photographic prints were captured at 600 dpi resolution using a Microtek ScanMaker E6 flatbed scanner or an Epson Perfection 2400 flatbed scanner. The resulting TIFF files (archival images) are stored at the UWM Libraries. Access images (JPEG files) were then created from the TIFF files for Web delivery. The collection was built with CONTENTdm digital media management software using Dublin Core metadata. High resolution digital images or prints can be ordered using the online Image Order form.

The Milwaukee Neighborhoods collection was expanded in May 2008. A selection of 194 film negatives from the Dennis Wierzba Negatives Collection were scanned and added to the collection. The maps were scanned at 400 dpi resolution using a large format scanner Colortrac 4280 in the American Geographical Society Library. The TIFF files were transferred to the LizardTech MrSID compression format using ArcGIS software. MrSID format allows one to compress large image files and view them through standard Internet browsers. Users can browse, pan, and zoom into the map files. The map portion of the collection was updated in the fall of 2006. The high-resolution map files are currently presented in three formats: Zoomify, JPEG2000, and MrSID.

A research process accompanied the creation of the digital collection. The photographs were researched and indexed as part of the project to provide additional points of access. The high-resolution archival images made the research possible as they offered extensive detail and often helped in identifying the names of streets and businesses. Numerous online and print reference sources including Milwaukee city directories were consulted in the research process. The images are indexed by 12 broad neighborhoods (Far North Side, East Side etc.) as defined in the 1981 publication of the Department of City Development Discover Milwaukee: a great home town and by more detailed neighborhood boundaries outlined in the Milwaukee neighborhoods map. The map, published by DCD Information Center in 2000, includes 75 neighborhoods. In addition to indexing the images by neighborhood and subject terms, an effort was made to determine the address, date of construction, and name of architect, when appropriate. As the street names and house numbers in the city of Milwaukee were changed in 1930, the current addresses and pre-1930 addresses were recorded using Wright's Street Guide Supplement to 1930 Milwaukee City Directory.


UWM Libraries would like to thank Judith Kenny, Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, for suggesting the theme for the project and contributing an article Picturing Milwaukee Neighborhoods.

UWM Libraries also would like to thank the Milwaukee County Highway Division, Milwaukee Map Service, and Wisconsin Electric Power Company (We Energies) for granting permission to use maps, to which they hold copyright.

Project Staff:

Krystyna K. Matusiak, Digital Collections Librarian, UWM Libraries

Student Assistants:
Jill Annitto, Helen Hermus, Ka Ying Hui, Derek Robinson, Bart Schmidt, John Sieracki, and Tim Blomquist


Map Scanning and Processing:
Patti Day, Digital Spatial Data Librarian, and Derek Robinson, American Geographical Society Library, UWM Libraries


Metadata Consultant:
Steve Miller, Head, Monographs Department, UWM Libraries

Other Contributors:
Patti Day, Digital Spatial Data Librarian, American Geographical Society Library, UWM Libraries; Leslie Heinrichs, Academic Archivist, Archives, UWM Libraries; Christel Maass, Academic Archivist, Archives, UWM Libraries

Digitizing Oversight Committee:

Denise Babin, Head, Automation Department, UWM Libraries
Ewa Barczyk, Chair, Interim Director of Libraries, UWM Libraries
Chris Baruth, Curator, American Geographical Society Library, UWM Libraries
Michael Doylen, Head, Archives, UWM Libraries
Krystyna K. Matusiak, Digital Collections Librarian, UWM Libraries
Steve Miller, Head, Monographs Department, UWM Libraries
Max Yela, Head, Special Collections, UWM Libraries


Contact Us

Please send us your comments or suggestions regarding the collection.


Phone: 414-229-2214

Mailing address:
Digitization Projects Unit
UWM Libraries
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
PO BOX 604
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0604


Copyright © Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

Milwaukee Neighborhoods: Photos and Maps 1885 - 1992 is published by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.

The images may be copied by individuals or libraries for personal use, research, teaching or any "fair use" as defined by copyright law. Please include this statement with any copies you make. Noncommercial, non-subscription Internet editions created for an educational purpose may freely link to the site or individual pages.
Anyone interested in any other use of these images, including for-profit Internet editions, should obtain permission from UWM Libraries.

Use Image Order form to request high-resolution digital reproductions of images.

Select the collections to add or remove from your search