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. See Event Page


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.

See Event Page


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.

See Event Page


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.

See Event Page



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.

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Brenda Magee – The Milwaukee Mile

June 13, 2018 • UPCOMING
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.

See Event Page



Antonio Doxtator – American Indians in Milwaukee

July 11, 2018


Tom Bamberger – Artistic and Architectural Milwaukee

August 8, 2018


Kevin Abing – A Crowded Hour, MKE & Great War 1917

September 12, 2018


Darlene Winter & Elizabeth Frank – The Milwaukee County Zoo

October 10, 2018


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 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.