In honor of the passing of Nelson Mandela, we would like to share images from our collection documenting the apartheid era in South Africa, including this image, depicting a protest against apartheid in Cape Town in 1961, the year before Mandela was imprisoned for his anti-apartheid activism.
The UWM Digital Collections added its 100,000th image this week! The honor goes to an image for the upcoming Milwaukee Polonia digital collection. It’s a 1928 photograph of a young girl (probably the daughter of Dorothy Gromowski, who ordered the photo) on the occasion of her First Communion or Confirmation. That collection continues to grow behind the scenes – look for a public unveiling in the near future.
Milestones are times for reflection, so we in Digitization looked back to see what the first image in our Digital Collections might have been. Krystyna Matusiak, the first Head of the Digitization Unit, confirmed that the inaugural collection was Afghanistan, a collection of images from the Harrison Forman collection. And the very first digital image captured for that collection was a photograph of a family of nomad Kuchis in Afghanistan, taken in 1969 by photojournalist Harrison Forman.
Now, onto 200,000!
The March on Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project (MOM) includes oral histories, film clips, audio files, manuscripts and images documenting the efforts of activists battling segregation and discrimination in Milwaukee during the 1960s. During a recent presentation of a news clip on the 1968 textbook controversy, a viewer suggested to Lucas Wolff, a member of the initial MOM staff team, that the woman speaking in the clip strongly resembled U.S. Representative Gwen Moore.
Archivist Ellen Engseth confirmed this helpful hunch when she contacted Representative Moore’s office to share the clip. Moore was student council president at North Division High School at the time. On the news clip, starting at 1.30, she speaks from the floor to suggest that officials could apply more pressure to adopt new textbooks for Milwaukee high school students.
Moore is joined by an unidentified senior from Riverside High School who expresses the frustration of students at the administration’s slowness in adopting new textbooks, and John Lawrence from Lincoln High School who stresses that textbooks that include the history of African Americans in the United States shouldn’t simply be “supplements.”
Do you know who the unidentified senior is? Please let us know.
The Kwasniewski photographs include some great images of the South Side of Milwaukee when that area was primarily Polish-American. The collection includes photos of churches, businesses, local organizations, sports teams, street scenes, green spaces, and . . . a few curiosities, as well. Consider these photographs taken by Kwasniewski to document Stanislaw Kielar’s advertising display invention.
Stanislaw Kielar demonstrating his invention (kw001105)
In 1920, Kielar filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent Office for a “certain new and useful Improvement in Advertising Structures.” His invention was intended specifically for use of displaying cigarette packs “in designs and with effects which will prove pleasing to the eye of the beholder.” Apparently, in the early part of the twentieth century, cigarette displays tended frequently to topple due to the lightness of the packages and the inability to effectively secure them in a structure. To solve this problem, Kielar cut a series of wood blocks to the size of cigarette packs, and connected the blocks with a series of specially designed spring clips inserted in notches cut into the blocks. “When all of the blocks which it is desired to thus unite in an advertising structure have been assembled and secured together,” explained Kielar, “it will be found that the manner of attachment or connection is such that the several blocks in the structure will retain the positions which they are intended to occupy in the completed design.” Problem solved! Kielar boasted that there was “no limit to the range of the designs in which advertising structures outlining [his] invention may be embodied.” A sample of this range is provided by the photographs shown here. Kielar’s application was approved in 1924 (patent number 1,493,679), and may be accessed online at the U.S. Patent Office site.
Kielar’s adversting structure for cigarettes (kw001106)
Another possible arrangement using Kielar’s advertising structure (kw001108)
by Alex Welborn
Recently, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries hosted the event “Hollywood in the Heartland” in conjunction with the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR). This celebration of the history of film and theater featured numerous one-of-a-kind film and theater artifacts and archival materials from the WCFTR. The UWM Archives contributed to the event by displaying historic images of Milwaukee theaters and movie palaces from the 1910s and 1920s, many of which come from the Roman Kwasniewski photograph collection. One such theater captured through the photography of Roman Kwasniewski is the Modjeska Theatre.
The Modjeska Theatre was once a major attraction for the local Polish-American community. Serial # 25127
The Modjeska Theater first opened in 1910 as a small, 840-seat theater at 7th and Mitchell Street in Milwaukee. Named after the Polish actress Madame Helena Modjeska, the Modjeska Theatre was most likely a posthumous tribute by the predominantly Polish-American community to the Polish icon.
Mr. Harman and young movie-goers pose outside of the Modjeska Theatre. Serial # 25127
In 1924, the local Saxe Theatres chain bought the Modjeska and replaced it with a larger, 2,000-seat movie palace at the same address. Though lacking in ornamentation, the new Modjeska featured a full orchestra pit, a Barton pipe organ, and a stage floor laden with trap doors for vaudeville acts.
The former popularity of the Modjeska Theatre is evident in this image, as eager movie-goers line up outside the venue. Serial # 25127
The 1950s initiated a long and slow decline of the Modjeska’s former self. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Modjeska changed ownership numerous times as operators struggled to keep the venue afloat. In the early 1990s, the Modjeska served as a 1,700-seat local acts venue, and success was limited and the venue eventually closed in March of 2010. Recent restoration efforts of the Modjeska Theatre have also folded due to lack of financial support, placing the building’s future in peril. Thanks to the photography of Roman Kwasniewski, however, the spirit of the Modjeska will live on, even if the theater itself does not.
Source and more information: Rankin, James (Jim) H. “Modjeska Theatre.” http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/2276 Accessed 23 April 2013.
by Anne Gaynor
Thousands of fans will flock to Miller Park today for the Milwaukee Brewers opening day game. One hundred years ago, Milwaukee fans flooded smaller ballparks and sandlots to see lesser-known teams for the same occasion. Of these teams, the Kosciuszko Reds were a south side Milwaukee favorite. In its decade of existence from 1909 to 1919, the Reds won several local circuit pennants as well as a devoted following in Milwaukee’s Polish Community.
The Kosciuszko Reds were founded in 1909 in part by Louis Fons, a prominent Polish-American businessman, joining the ranks of dozens of other semiprofessional and sandlot teams outside of the world of organized baseball. The Reds worked their way up from the local semiprofessional City League to the more exclusive Lake Shore League where they claimed the pennant over their rivals in other southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois towns in 1912, 1914, and 1915.
Although many of the Reds players were not, in fact, Polish, its founder’s Polish roots, the team’s red and white uniforms echoing Poland’s flag, and the community support of Milwaukee’s Polonia helped make the Reds a decidedly Polish team.
In 1912, a new ballpark for the Reds was erected at Harrison St. and Grove St. (now W. Harrison St. and S. 5th St). It opened in May, unfinished, with an exhibition game against the Peters Union Giants, an African American semiprofessional team from Chicago. Roman Kwasniewski hauled his equipment to the ballpark that day to photograph the action.
Kosciuszko Reds George Disch swings and misses
A player for the Union Giants slides into first base
More images from the Giants vs. Reds game can be found in the Milwaukee Neighborhoods collection: http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cdm/search/collection/mkenh/searchterm/kwasniewski%20baseball/order/nosort
Kwasniewski captured other photographs of the team as well, including these:
A Kosciuszko Reds player warming up
A Kosciuszko Reds player poses with his bat
This information in this post comes largely from UWM History Professor Neal Pease’s two excellent articles on Milwaukee’s Kosciuszko Reds:
Pease, N. (2004). The Kosciuszko Reds, 1909-1919: Kings of the Milwaukee sandlots. Polish American Studies, 61(1), 11-26.
Pease, N. (2005). Big game on the South Side: A Milwaukee baseball mystery decoded. Wisconsin Magazine of History, 88(3), 28-39. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/wmh/pdf/spring05_game.pdf
by Ellen Engseth, Archivist
Recently I selected five news film segments about Frank Zeidler, Mayor of Milwaukee between 1948 and 1960, for inclusion in a digital collection. My purpose was to provide complementary material for our in-house library exhibit, “Advancing Human Progress: Mayor Frank P. Zeidler’s Vision for Milwaukee,” brought to us courtesy of UWM History Professor, Aims McGuiness. After I made a few selections from the large archival collection of WTMJ-TV’s historical newsfilm, my Digitization colleagues and I built the digital objects you find online.
I made selections based on several considerations: sound and visual quality, visual interest, and information provided. In addition, the mayoral career-retrospective 1960 broadcast (“Room 201”) rather chose itself. If you watch it, I think you will agree.
It’s no surprise to me that, though I made my selections well before I saw the “Advancing Human Progress” exhibit or read the exhibit text, the segments and program I chose directly relate to some of the visiting exhibit’s many topical areas. This is due to the richness of the source material (i.e. a local news film archive which by its very nature captures much of the city leadership), as well as to the fact that Mayor Zeidler led the city with clear direction and obvious contributions. These include successes in the areas of:
- urban, low-cost education, an example of which was his commitment to what is now MATC. (starting at minute 11:28 – 12:28)
- human and civil rights, as in this brief clip from one of Mayor Zeidler’s speeches: (starting at minute 10:23 – 11:19)
Reference URL: http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cdm/ref/collection/wtmj/id/16
- transportation, his concerns about the outmoded traffic system, and his work to begin a modern freeway system in Milwaukee: (starting at minute 1:14 – 1:36)
Reference URL: http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cdm/ref/collection/wtmj/id/11
- and the concerns he had (and shared with his contemporaries) regarding civil defense: (starting at minute 2:22 – 2:51)
Reference URL: http://collections.lib.uwm.edu/cdm/ref/collection/wtmj/id/8
As an example of how the in-house and online exhibits complement each other, I learned from an “Advancing Human Progress” panel created for the physical exhibit, that plans to “…construct freeways, which could act as quick evacuation routes in the event of attack, were part of Mayor Zeidler’s plans to preserve lives in the event of a nuclear attack.” This places his work on our urban freeway development squarely in broader Cold War-era concerns as well as with other concerns for traffic safety and efficiency. Though this important historical point was not clear to me from my initial viewing of segmented news clips, I can now see the connection, and listen to his spoken words with more awareness and understanding of mid-20th century Milwaukee.
What will you learn?
The exhibit is visiting the UWM Libraries, East Wing, through May; the historical news film featuring Mayor Zeidler can be found online at:: http://bit.ly/16dcTc8