Skip navigation
Close Mill Road Branch Closure

Mill Road Branch will be closed Monday, December 11 through Monday, January 1, 2018. The library will reopen on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 with reduced services.

All Milwaukee Public Library Locations Closed...

Sunday, Dec. 17, Friday, Dec. 22, Saturday, Dec. 23, Sunday, Dec. 24, and Monday, Dec. 25 for Christmas. Friday, Dec. 29, Saturday, Dec. 30, Sunday, Dec. 31, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 for New Year's.

Milwaukee Public Library Hours & Locations

Close

Local History

Local history materials in the Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room at the Central Library deal with the history of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, the old Northwest Territory, and the colonies and states in the main migration pattern to this area.


Explore Now@MPL Blog entries tagged Milwaukee history.


Books     City Directories & Telephone Books     Local History Indexes

Historic Newspapers     Maps & Atlases     House History     Business History


Books

CountyCat
The primary means of identifying specific books in the local history collection is by searching MPL’s online catalog, CountyCat, for the terms or place names in which you are interested.

Archives Unbound - County and Regional Histories & Atlases: Wisconsin
Online books! 158 Wisconsin local histories and atlases for genealogical research from Gale, spanning from 1857-1909. Library subscription database. Available for use within MPL libraries and for remote use by City of Milwaukee library cardholders.

City Directories & Telephone Books

 
City Directories

Milwaukee City Directories (1847-present), 910.1 M662, may be browsed by name (all years) or by address (1921 to present). They are available in the following formats and locations:

Print
1848/1849 to 1922, located at Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room reference desk
(Note: some volumes in this span of years are not available in print format; see Humanities reference librarians for details)

1923 to present, located in Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room
(Note: some years were not published during this period; see Humanities reference librarians for details)

Microfiche
1847 to 1860, located in the Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room and at the Periodicals Service Desk

Microfilm
1861 to 1960, located at Periodicals Service Desk

Online
1861-1960, digitized from microfilm, available in Ancestry Library Edition subscription database.

1930 Milwaukee street name and address changes
In 1930, the City of Milwaukee changed street address numbers and some street names to create a more uniform street address system. The 1930 Milwaukee City Directory includes a supplement with an address converter. The Humanities Room has several copies of the supplement available for use in the room. In addition, the Milwaukee County Historical Society has made a digitized version available on their website: Street Name Conversions

Other Wisconsin City Directories
The Humanities Room has a small collection of historic city directories for some Wisconsin cities besides Milwaukee. Please consult a Humanities Room reference librarian or try a keyword search in CountyCat for the city name and include the words "city directory" (Example search: Green Bay city directory)

Telephone Books

Central Library's Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room has historic telephone book collections for Milwaukee and some other Wisconsin communities. Please consult a Humanities Room reference librarian for assistance identifying telephone book coverage for communities not listed below.

Milwaukee Telephone Directories
Milwaukee telephone directories, 910.1 M6624
Print format in Humanities Room: 1905-present
Microfilm format in Periodicals Department: 1881-1967, with some missing years

Milwaukee-area Reverse Telephone Directories
Bresser's cross-index directory metropolitan Milwaukee and suburban communities (1969-2000), 910.1 B843

Bresser's cross-index directory: Suburban Milwaukee (2001-present), 910.1 B847

Other Wisconsin Telephone Books
Wisconsin Telephone Book Shelf List (excluding Milwaukee County)
This list details MPL's holdings of print telephone directories for over 200 Wisconsin communities located outside Milwaukee County.

Local History Indexes

 
Echo newsletter, from Historic Milwaukee, Inc.

Echo Newsletter Index, 2004-present
​A subject index of articles about Milwaukee-area architecture, historic preservation and local history appearing in Echo, the newsletter of Historic Milwaukee, Inc., a non-profit historic preservation organization.

Local History Pamphlets

Local History Pamphlet File Index
MPL has a wide-ranging collection of pamphlets, brochures and other ephemera from throughout Milwaukee’s history. This index presents the subject headings covered in the Local History Pamphlet File.

Archives and Special Collections

The following archives and special collections offer rich primary sources for local history research in Milwaukee:

City of Milwaukee Archives

Great Lakes Marine Collection

Historic Photo Archives

Local History Manuscript Collections

Milwaukee Road Archives