Lecture Series

2018 Series Sponsor:

Landmark Credit Union is Wisconsin’s largest credit union and serves over 300,000 members at over 30 branch locations. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, Landmark returns profits to its members in the form of better rates and lower fees on a full range of straightforward financial options. By choosing Landmark, members save money, so they have more for the things that really matter.

At the Door Admission: $10 | Seniors/Students with IDs: $5 | Members: FREE

About the Speakers

Cal Kothrade – Shipwreck Photography

January 26, 2018
Find out what it takes to dive down 175 feet into icy cold waters, and bring back award-winning shots of historic shipwrecks. Cal, an internationally renowned underwater photographer, specializing in the deep, dark and cold wrecks of North America’s Great Lakes will discuss the dive equipment, training, camera gear, and skill sets required to image these eerily beautiful wrecks. He is a board trustee of the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society and a member of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeological Society.


Bob Buege – The Milwaukee Braves, Borchert Field

February 14, 2018

Milwaukee native Bob Buege was born under the present location of North America’s largest four-faced clock. He is retired from a 40-year career as a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of five books, including The Milwaukee Braves: A Baseball Eulogy (1988), Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime (1994), and most recently Borchert Field: Stories from Milwaukee’s Legendary Ballpark (2017).

Before there was Miller Park, there was County Stadium. Before County Stadium, there was Borchert Field. Built in 1888, (the same year the North Point Lighthouse was erected) through 1952, Borchert Field was Milwaukee’s principal baseball venue. It was much more, though, hosting football (ten Packer games), wrestling, boxing, rodeos, and a National Balloon Race. Accompanied by an array of historic photos, Bob will be talking about some of the incredible people, some famous, some not, who performed in Borchert Field.



Gavin Schmitt – The Milwaukee Mafia

March 14, 2018

From Vito Guardalabene’s arrival from Italy until the days of controlling the Teamsters union and paying off public officials, Milwaukee was a city of Bullets, Blood and Beer. Gavin Schmitt’s The Milwaukee Mafia relies on previously unseen police reports, FBI investigative notes, coroner’s records, newspaper articles and family lore. The members of the Mafia included doctors, real estate men, restaurateurs, tavern owners, funeral directors, union presidents, and the most famous Milwaukee gangster of all, Frank Balistrieri. This is not only a story of organized crime. It is also about immigration, the American Dream, urban planning, law enforcement, politics and how all these elements come together to form a solid narrative.

About Gavin Schmitt

Gavin Schmitt has been recognized as the go-to expert for Wisconsin organized crime. He specializes in getting state and federal documents released to the public to unearth a once-secret history. Schmitt has researched Wisconsin’s darker history for decades and has been published in a variety of magazines including Informer and HorrorHound. Schmitt lives in Neenah, Wisconsin.



Amanda Seligman – Encyclopedia of Milwaukee

April 11, 2018

Sponsored by the History Department in the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee (EMKE) aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the history of the Milwaukee area, including Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. With over 740 entries, hundreds of illustrations, historical and contemporary maps, bibliographic materials and interactive features, the EMKE will be the first stop for researchers, students, journalists, scholars and the general public to explore the rich history of Milwaukee, many of its neighborhoods and surrounding counties and municipalities.

When completed, the EMKE will be available in both digital and print formats. Visitors are encouraged to explore the current digital version with features that expand on basic information including author footnotes, searchable content and user feedback.

About Amanda Seligman

Amanda Seligman is Professor of History and Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee. She currently serves as the Chair of the Department of History and has authored several books about urban neighborhoods in Chicago. Seligman and Margo Anderson are lead authors of the EMKE project.



Thomas Fehring – The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee

May 9, 2018

The Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee by Thomas Fehring tells the story of innovation and enterprise creation in Milwaukee during the Century of Progress—the hundred years following the US Civil War. It was a remarkable era—Milwaukee was one of the principal centers of industrial innovation in the United States and became known as “the Machine Shop of the World.” In telling the story of Milwaukee’s industrial history, the book summarizes individual stories of over seventy early Milwaukee-area companies and discusses the significant machines designed by their engineers.

About Thomas Fehring

Fehring was born and grew up in Milwaukee in the shadows of the A.O. Smith factory near 35th and Capitol Drive. He attended Marquette University and attained bachelor and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

An engineer by training and practice, Fehring worked for thirty-five years at “keeping the lights on” at Wisconsin Energy Corporation and its various subsidiaries. Earlier in his career, he also worked for a time at Falk Corporation, Briggs & Stratton and Ford Motor Company.

Fehring’s foray into history continued after his retirement when was appointed to ASME’s history and heritage committee, which he currently chairs. He has also been involved with community history, serving on the Whitefish Bay Historic Preservation Commission and has published two books on the Village’s history.



Brenda Magee – The Milwaukee Mile

June 13, 2018

Speed has always been the Milwaukee Mile’s hallmark, and the one-mile oval track has given race fans and drivers thrills, chills and memories for 130 years. The Milwaukee Mile has hosted auto-racing events every year since 1903, making it the oldest continuously operating auto racing facility in the world.

“The Mile,” once a proving ground for the latest in mechanical engineering, has seen it all: from harness racing and endurance races to NASCAR, midgets, sprints and Indy open wheel races. The Mile’s checkered flag has waved at the finish line for such racing greats as Barney Oldfield, Rex Mays, Al Unser and Mario Andretti, as well as a new generation of drivers, including Dale Jarrett, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and Will Power. The infield has hosted its share of the action as well, including circus acts under the big top and even Green Bay Packers games.

About Brenda Magee

Magee is a historian, author, researcher and member of the Milwaukee County and Franklin Historical Societies. Magee’s passion for research, along with her love for Milwaukee’s history and its preservation, inspired her to write The Milwaukee Mile (Images of Sports). Magee holds a BA History from Marquette University and considers telling Milwaukee’s stories one of her greatest passions. “Everyone and everything has a story,” she says.



Antonio Doxtator – American Indians in Milwaukee

July 11, 2018

Milwaukee is an Algonquin word meaning “the Good Land,” and Wisconsin’s 11 American Indian tribes have long-lived and gathered here, contributing to its name and identity. This presentation details some of the people, places and events that have contributed to the history of American Indians In Milwaukee.

From the Red Power Movement of the 1970s that sparked a resurgence of local American Indian culture and pride, American Indians continue to contribute to the growth and success of Milwaukee. From nationally-recognized innovations in American Indian education, health, entertainment, and cultural representation to the Indian Community School, Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Clinic, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and Indian Summer Festival, American Indians are still here and thriving.

About Antonio Doxtator

Antonio J. Doxtator is an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and was born and raised in the City of Milwaukee. He has worked in the American Indian community since 1996 and has lived and worked on the Oneida Reservations in Wisconsin and New York, in social services, education and youth support. He is currently publishing his second book on the Doxtator-Oneida history going back to 1700, and a student in UWM’s M.S. program in Cultural Foundations of Community Education and Engagement.



Tom Bamberger – Fatal Attraction: Public Art and Milwaukee

August 8, 2018 • UPCOMING

Artist, photographer and writer Tom Bamberger will present a brief history of the national public art movement, starting with Richard Serra’s controversial public sculpture, Tilted Arc, installed in New York City from 1981 to 1989, and review the history of public art in Milwaukee. He will also reflect about what landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Milwaukee’s Lake Park, might think of the park today.

About Tom Bamberger

Tom Bamberger has been a working artist for almost four decades. His photographs have been collected and shown at many museums, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His work has been reviewed in The New Yorker, Art in America and The New York Times, and he has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Wisconsin Arts Board.

Bamberger is also the author of many essays and publications on photography, architecture and urban design, and currently writes the “In Public” column for the website Urban Milwaukee. He is the only person who has been writing about architecture and urban design in Milwaukee for more than 30 years. During his more than 20 years as a contributing editor for Milwaukee Magazine, he has written hundreds of articles about the visual world that have garnered numerous honors, including from the Wisconsin Press Club for criticism, and the White Award, a national press award for city and regional magazines.

While working at the Milwaukee Art Museum as the curator of photography for more than a decade, Bamberger produced more than 30 exhibitions and publications. Among the noteworthy shows that received national recognition were the first museum exhibitions of Andreas Gursky, Anna and Bernhard Blume, and Rodney Graham, all of which traveled to multiple venues and were accompanied by publications.

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Kevin Abing – A Crowded Hour: Milwaukee during the Great War, 1917-1918

September 12, 2018

Simmering ethnic tensions, skyrocketing inflation, the meaning of American citizenship and the impact of a growing government bureaucracy affected every aspect of the lives of Milwaukeeans during the Great War.

In his talk based on his award-winning book, A Crowded Hour: Milwaukee During the Great War, 1917-1918, Kevin Abing examines the social, political and economic challenges that scarred and dramatically changed the city during and after World War I. Pro-war patriots considered Milwaukee’s loyalties suspect because of its large German-American population and strong Socialist Party presence. Consequently, Milwaukeeans endured intense efforts, some bordering on the paranoid or absurd, to enforce 100 percent Americanism and redeem the city’s reputation.

At the same time, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was killing more than 1,100 Milwaukeeans and 50 million people worldwide. But the hand-wringing was unnecessary, as city residents exceeded every government wartime demand.

About Kevin Abing

Abing was born and raised in southwest Wisconsin and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from Marquette University. He has worked more than 10 years with the Milwaukee County Historical Society, the last four and a half as the head archivist in the research library. His book, A Crowded Hour: Milwaukee During the Great War, 1917-1918, won the Gambrinus Prize in 2017 from the Historical Society for the best book on Milwaukee history.

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Darlene Winter, Elizabeth Frank and Mary Kazmierczak – The Milwaukee County Zoo

October 10, 2018

Every zoo has a celebrity resident that captures the imaginations and hearts of the people who are fortunate to see him or her. One such celebrity was Samson the gorilla who lived at the Milwaukee County Zoo until his death in 1981. He was believed to be the largest gorilla in captivity and was known worldwide. Darlene Winter will discuss how this magnificent gorilla inspired her to write the first book about Sampson, I Remember Sampson, in collaboration with Samson’s longtime keeper and friend, Sam LaMalfa.

Winter is also co-author of the book The Milwaukee Zoo, with Elizabeth Frank and Mary Kazmierczak, about the history of the zoo from its inception at West Park in 1892 to become one of the finest zoos in the country. Frank will talk about how the zoo grew from humble beginnings to its significant role in national and international conservation programs. Throughout its history, the zoo has been recognized for innovative exhibit design and has flourished through the cooperation of Milwaukee County and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, a public-private relationship that has existed successfully since 1910.

Kazmierczak, librarian and information specialist for the Milwaukee County Zoo and Zoological Society of Milwaukee, will cap off the lecture with her personal insight into the zoo’s library and the historical memorabilia it holds.

About the Presenters

Darlene Winter is a graduate of Alverno College with a degree in Professional Communications. She has been a Zoo Pride docent at the Milwaukee County Zoo for 14 years. In addition to co-authoring the zoo’s history book, The Milwaukee Zoo, with Elizabeth Frank and Mary Kazmierczak, she has also written I Remember Samson.

Elizabeth Frank graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Animal Science. She has 33 years of experience working in and with zoos, 20 of which she served as Curator of Large Mammals at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Frank has been a Zoo Pride volunteer since her retirement and developed the zoo’s award-winning library and archives.

Mary Kazmierczak has a BA and MA in political science from Marquette University and a MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is the librarian and information specialist for the Milwaukee County Zoo and Zoological Society of Milwaukee, and is responsible for preserving the history of the zoo. Kazmierczak has been a Zoo Pride volunteer since 1998.

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Paul Geenen – Milwaukee’s Bronzeville

November 14, 2018

With the migration of African American sharecroppers to northern cities in the first half of the 20th Century, the African American population of Milwaukee grew from fewer than 1,000 in 1900 to nearly 22,000 in 1950. Most settled around a 12-block area along Walnut Street that came to be the known as Milwaukee’s Bronzeville, a thriving residential, business, and entertainment community.

Barbershops, restaurants, drugstores, and funeral homes were started with little money saved from overtime pay at factory jobs or extra-domestic work taken on by the women. Exotic nightclubs, taverns, and restaurants attracted a racially mixed clientele, and daytime social clubs sponsored “matinees” that were dress-up events featuring local bands catering to neighborhood residents.

Bronzeville is remembered by African American elders as a good place to grow up—times were hard, but the community was tight.

About Paul Geenen

Paul Geenen is an entrepreneur, a community activist, an author and a grandfather of eight. He is the author of Milwaukee’s Bronzeville: 1900 – 1950, Schusters and Gimbels: Milwaukee’s Beloved Department Stores, Sherman Park: A Legacy of Diversity in Milwaukee and Civil Rights Activism in Milwaukee: South Side Struggles in the ‘60s and ‘70s. He volunteers with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and with OFA (Organizing For Action), an organization that works on progressive causes.

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North Point Lighthouse History

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