Milwaukee in the 1930s: A Federal Writers Project City Guide

By John D. Buenker

Paperback: $18.95

ISBN: 9780870207426

260 pages, 86 b&w photos, 6 x 9 E-book edition available


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What would it be like to take an intensive tour of Milwaukee as it was during the late 1930s -- at the confluence of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the run-up to World War II? That is precisely what the participants in the Federal Writers Project did while researching their Guide to Milwaukee. The fruits of their labors were ready for publication by 1940, but for a number of reasons the finished project never saw the light of day -- until now.

Seventy-five years after the work's completion, historian John D. Buenker presents this guide -- now serving as a time machine, ready to transport readers back to the Milwaukee of the 1930s, neighborhood by neighborhood, building by building.

Buenker's thoughtful introduction provides historical context, details the FWP's development of this guide, as well as Milwaukee's political climate leading up to, and during, the 1930s. Next, essays on thirteen "areas," ranging from Civic Center to Bay View, delve deeper into the geography, economy, and culture of old Milwaukee's neighborhoods. Simulated auto tours take readers to locales still familiar today, exploring the city's most celebrated landmarks and institutions. With a calendar of annual events and a list of public services and institutions, plus dozens of photographs from the era, Milwaukee in the 1930s, provides a unique record of a pre-World War II American city.

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John D. Buenker, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of history for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he taught for thirty-three years. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including volume IV of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s History of Wisconsin: The Progressive Era, 1893–1914. He has published more than 250 book chapters, articles, and book reviews.

Beverly J.K. Buenker, who assisted Dr. Buenker, has been a surgical technician and an archivist. She also conducts workshops on how to fashion commemorative scrapbooks.