Benefiting Present and Future Generations

The collections of WHS shall reflect the history of Wauwatosa from its beginnings to the present. This shall also include materials from Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin as they relate to Wauwatosa’s historical experience. Collections shall be for the benefit of present and future generations of Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County, and its visitors.


Many photographs were published in our book, Images of Wauwatosa. There are hundreds more available, including postcard images. Our photos are organized by subject category, such as: Businesses, the Village, Families, People, Churches, Schools, Agriculture,

Clubs/Organizations, Health and Human Services, Recreation/Sports, and Government/Police/Library.

Published Works

Wauwatosa Historical Society Newsletters: Our newsletter, Historic Wauwatosa is a rich resource. Because of its in-depth historical articles, it has received the prestigious Reuben Gold Thwaites Award from the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Community Histories: Community histories are an important starting point for any research. Significant volumes in the WHS collections are: Reminiscences of Early Wauwatosa by Emma Clapp Watner (1902); Sketches of Wauwatosa compiled by Elizabeth Foley (1932); The Wauwatosa Story (1961 & revisions), and Images of Wauwatosa (2004). Since Wauwatosa did not incorporate as a village until 1892, its early years were connected to the Town of Wauwatosa, which is chronicled in Memoirs of Milwaukee County by Jerome Watrous (1909), and From Trading Post to Metropolis: Milwaukee County’s First l00 Years.

Wauwatosa City Directories provide an excellent tool for finding people who once lived in Wauwatosa. The directories list the head of household alphabetically by surname, along with their address and occupation.WHS has directories from 1892 to 1989 (but not inclusive). Regular publication began in 1926. The 1932 book includes new street name and number changes. Directories also contain listings for businesses and churches. There are also a few comparable county directories: a 1926 and two 1940’s books for the Town of Wauwatosa.

Assorted Published Books: Assorted published books are also part of our collection. Topics include Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and the State, as well as architecture, historic preservation, landmarks, and works by Wisconsin authors.

Special Collections

(Miscellaneous paper or book materials grouped by subject matter)

Biographical Collections: Filed by a person’s or family name (e.g. Hart, Swan) and may include clippings of obituaries, death notices, or newspaper articles.

Cookbook Collection from 1891 and On-Going: A detailed list is available with titles and publishers. Most are non-local and span the decades to the 1960’s.

Cemeteries Collection: General information on Wauwatosa and Milwaukee County cemeteries.

Church Collection: Wauwatosa churches by name (not sacramental records): may include anniversary booklets.

Landmark and Building Collection: Filed by street address (e.g. homes by numbered and named streets); district/neighborhood/subdivision (e.g. Chestnut Street and Wellauer Park); building reference (e.g. architecture and preservation).

Map Collection: Maps are a helpful resource that be used to track the growth of a community and to locate streets and changes in their names. Our collection includes the 1876 Historical Atlas (plat map book) of Milwaukee County, and in addition there is a detailed listing for maps that include pre-1900 and post-1900 Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County, and Wisconsin.

Milwaukee County Institutions: WHS holds a copy of the Register of Burials (1882-1974) from the Milwaukee County Poor Farm with over 8,000 names, dates, and causes of death. The collection also includes published Annual Reports of the Milwaukee County Institutions (1896-1926 (not inclusive), many with photos. Memoirs (including photos and maps) of the Milwaukee County Children’s Home by Joseph F. Cieminski, who resided there from 1933-41, are also available.

Newspaper Collection: WHS holds bound copies of the Wauwatosa News (beginning with 1900) and the Wauwatosa News Times through 1994; loose copies thereafter. WHS has the ONLY index to this paper, from 1900 through 1917. This index is computerized and can be searched by personal or corporate name for a printout of the entry.

Periodical Collection: Magazines on the history of Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, the County, and the State in addition to house restoration, preservation, architecture, and Victorian interiors. (See Historic Wauwatosa May 2005 for a detailed list.)

School Collection: These files are organized by school name and contain varied materials. These are not official school records. We also have school newspapers, including the Cardinal News and the Hawthorne Echo.

School Reunions Collection: Beginning with the class of 1927, these files reflect activities of Wauwatosa class reunions.

Wauwatosa Government Collection: Among a list of these files are: the City Seal, city telephone directories, ordinances, city planning materials, the Village, Police Department, 100th Anniversary, the Library, and annual bulletins and city newsletters.

Wauwatosa High School Collection: A variety of items are found in this grouping, including student publications and commencement items.

Yearbook Collection: These are primarily from Wauwatosa High School, Wauwatosa East High School, and Wauwatosa West High School, along with Wauwatosa Junior High School and Whitman Junior High/Middle School. There is a list of all years available. We hold three yearbooks from the Milwaukee County School of Nursing from 1970-1972.

Other Special Collections: Some smaller files have material by these subjects: The Great Depression, Political, Receipts, Senior Citizens, Tourism, Scrapbooks, Videocassettes, Compact Discs, Audiocassettes, and Film.


What are manuscripts? Manuscripts can be the personal papers of an individual, including correspondence, school report cards, playbills, receipts, and memorabilia. They can include the official records of a business, institution, or organization, including incorporation, minutes, financial material, and correspondence. The name reflects the creator of the material. These collections may also include photographs, books, maps, and artifacts. Below are abstracts from a variety of manuscripts that we hold; there are over a hundred additional smaller files. These primary source materials offer a wealth of historic information, much of which is not found elsewhere.

Brouwer’s Research Foundation, Inc. (1926-1960’s): Paper and artifact items from the life of Stephen J. Brouwer, who developed shoe lasts. He lectured extensively and utilized X-Ray machines in his local shoe stores to ensure the proper fit.

Buesing, Warren (1963-1978): Papers of a Wauwatosa School Board member, who also chaired the Wauwatosa School Board’s Citizen Committee. Files on individual schools are found, as well as reports related to subjects such as pupil population and building facility studies.

M & I Wauwatosa State Bank (1920-1989): Business papers and photographs from this local bank founded in 1920, which was purchased by M & I. Of particular note are aerial photographs of the village area and North and Wauwatosa Avenues when the bank moved there in the 1970s.

Olson, Frederick I: These are personal papers of Dr. Olson related to his historical writings on Wauwatosa and other memorabilia

Ravenswood Garden Club (1939-1999): Materials from this garden group include their constitution and by-laws, activities, scrapbooks, minutes, and a history of the club.

Walker Family: Papers, memorabilia, photographs, and artifacts that belonged to Emery Walker, 2nd owner of the Kneeland-Walker House, including material on both of his wives, Maybelle and Constance.

Washington Homes Association (1923-1997): These are the records of the association that formed in 1919 to oversee the Washington Highlands neighborhood, to which all homeowners belong. Among the papers are minutes, property change correspondence, assessment files, employee files, financial statements, and a group of miscellaneous drawings for improvements on homes, all listed by address or lot and block number. There is a detailed finding aid to this material to help researchers.

Wauwatosa Common Council Proceedings (1898-1958): These are the official, bound volumes that chronicle the activities of the Wauwatosa common council, beginning with a handwritten ledger dated May 3, 1898 and continuing, with later typed pages, through January 21, 1958.

Wauwatosa Community Concert Association (1950-1987): These are records of this group that brought musical programming to the community, including minutes, reports, correspondence, and programs for events.

Wauwatosa Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (1944-1981): Activities of this group are represented in a council history, scrap books with photographs and clippings, and yearbooks for the participating Wauwatosa public schools. WHS has additional collections on Hawthorne and Longfellow Junior High P.T. A. organizations.

Wauwatosa Curling Club (1926-1950s): Material of the club’s activities, including special events and photographs of curling.

Wauwatosa Fire Department: Until recently, WHS only had a group of department annual reports. The Fire Department, however, recently donated a large body of material, which is unprocessed, that includes many photographs and material recording department activities.

Wauwatosa Music Club (1946-1988): This manuscript includes the complete set of yearbooks of the club from 1946-1982 and scrapbooks of activities from 1945-1988, with a few missing years.

Wauwatosa Pioneers (1931-1980): Minutes and papers related to this organization that had roots to the pioneer settlers of Wauwatosa.

Wauwatosa Vocational Homemaker’s Club (1940-2001): These are the records of this club that disbanded in 2001, including information on Wauwatosa students who received their scholarships.

Wauwatosa War Memorial (1945-1956): Records of the community fund-raising effort to create a memorial in the civic center

Webster School: This school was formerly Washington School. We hold school registers, P.T.A. notebooks, photographs, and other related material.

Wells Family (1888-1910): Memorabilia from this early family including school items and photographs.

Wheeler Family: Genealogical information on this pioneer family.

Work Projects Administration: Writer’s Program (1938): This is a unique body of material created by writers of the WPA toward the goal of compiling a Wauwatosa Guide Book. It was never put into final form. There is a complete index of articles by topic, such as Early Settlement, Geology, Indians, Pioneers, Transportation, Sports, Wauwatosa Clubs & Organizations, and many more. The writers also compiled biographies of local people and these, and the authors, have been indexed by name.

Zillmer-Moore Family: Genealogical information on these families with some material on the Etzel and Swan families. There is also a large collection of identified photographs of early Wauwatosa settlers.