Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History | Wisconsin Historical Society

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Current Issue of the Wisconsin Magazine of History

Winter 2015-2016 Issue, Volume 99, Number 2

Table of Contents

Vel Phillips: Making History in Milwaukee

By Carol Cohen
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EnlargeVel Phillips, 2013

Vel Phillips, 2013

 

In 2013, Wisconsin Public Television producer Robert Trondson conducted several interviews with Vel Phillips and used the video footage to create the documentary, Vel Phillips: Dream Big Dreams. The narrative of Carol Cohen’s article comes from the transcripts of Trondson’s interviews, in which Phillips describes her historic run for Milwaukee’s city council in 1956.

In 1951, Vel Phillips graduated from law school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved to Milwaukee’s inner core with her husband Dale. Having learned about the discrimination and racism that led to the segregation of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, she became interested in effecting social change. When the city reapportioned its electoral districts in 1955, resulting in the creation of a new Second Ward, Phillips declared her intention to run for the open seat. At that time, no woman or African American had ever been elected to Milwaukee’s Common Council. However, through savvy campaign tactics and hard work, Phillips eventually won the seat, which she held for nearly four terms. In later years, Phillips went on to achieve many historic firsts for women and African Americans in public service.


God Loves Them As They Are: How Religion Helped Pass Gay Rights in Wisconsin

By Andrea Rottman
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EnlargeLloyd Barbee,

God Loves Them As They Are

State Assemblyman Lloyd Barbee poses in front of the Wisconsin state capitol in 1968. Barbee introduced a bill to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults in 1967 and, though it did not pass, continued to advocate for it, reintroducing the draft bill in 1969, 1971, and 1973.Wisconsin’s boxcar rests on a trailer at the State Capitol after the parade from the Chicago & North Western depot on February 13, 194

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, State Assemblyman Lloyd Barbee attempted to pass legislation that would decriminalize homosexuality in the state of Wisconsin. When these efforts were repeatedly defeated, gay rights advocates took a different tack, advancing a non-discrimination bill based on sexual orientation rather than a decriminalization of sexual behavior. Leon Rouse, a student at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, inspired to act by the vitriol of Anita Bryant’s campaign against gay rights, began to look for allies in Wisconsin’s religious communities. He was following the model of Seattle, Washington, where endorsements from clergy had seen an anti-discrimination bill signed into law. Among the allies Rouse recruited was the controversial archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, who not only offered counsel on the wording of the legislation but endorsed it in letters to legislators and an opinion piece in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald Citizen.

In 1981, with a coalition united behind the legislation, Rouse teamed up with Representative David Clarenbach, who had taken on Barbee’s mantle in the state legislature. They would succeed in enacting the first statewide non-discrimination bill to include sexual orientation in the nation, a precedent that would only be matched by Massachusetts in 1989.


Green Turtle Soup, Lobster Newburg, and Roman Punch: A Sampling of Menus from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Collections

By Julia Wong
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EnlargeA Sampling of Menus

Green Turtle Soup, Lobster Newburg, and Roman Punch

This 1901 menu is for the ninth dinner of the Six O’Clock Club, a men’s social club that met several times a year for dinner, musical entertainment, and short presentations by invited speakers on various civic issues.State Assemblyman Lloyd Barbee poses in front of the Wisconsin state capitol in 1968. Barbee introduced a bill to decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults in 1967 and, though it did not pass, continued to advocate for it, reintroducing the draft bill in 1969, 1971, and 197

Wisconsin’s boxcar rests on a trailer at the State Capitol after the parade from the Chicago & North Western depot on February 13, 1949

The Wisconsin Historical Society boasts a diverse collection of menus, which can be found in a discrete collection in the Archives, but also in the ephemera collection, library materials, museum holdings, and in specific manuscript collections. Examining these menus reveals not only the popularity of certain foods and beverages, but also the shifts in gender dynamics, transportation networks, social activities, and dietary trends that have occurred in Wisconsin, and throughout the US, since the mid-1800s.

Julia Wong’s article features menus from cafes, lunchrooms, hotels, passenger ships, railroad lounge cars, social clubs, and fraternal organizations. Some elaborate menus commemorated the visits of dignitaries such as Buffalo Bill and Warren G. Harding, while others, like the “Meatless Tuesday” menus from World War I, urged restaurant patrons to conserve resources. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century with a simple list menu from Milwaukee’s Newhall House, and ending with the locally-sourced, farm-to-table menu of L’Etoile Restaurant on Madison’s Capitol Square, this article traces a changing nation through its menus.

To learn more about the menus in the Society’s collections, please visit the online gallery, A Wisconsin Historical Society Menu Sampler, at http://wihist.org/menugallery.


The Civil War Photography of Francis Van de Wall

By James B. Hibbard
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EnlargeCivil War Photography

Civil War Photography

This carte de visite wedding portrait of Mary Coombe Mills, from ca. December 30, 1860, is the earliest-known photograph taken by Van de Wall.Tintype portrait of Lyman Draper.

James B. Hibbard tells the story of Francis Van de Wall’s evolution from impoverished laborer to successful portrait photographer during one of the nation’s most tragic hours. Van de Wall rode the photography booms of the carte de visite and the Civil War to financial stability, honing his craft over years of practice and benefiting greatly from a brief tutelage from noted photographer Alexander Hesler. Hibbard’s article not only tells Van de Wall’s story but explores many of the methods he used to create engaging portraits—from incorporating a brace to hold a subject’s head still and avoid facial blur to choosing poses that appeared natural.

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