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About this Collection

 

This digital collection exhibits a selection of several buildings and resources from the larger Prewar Apartment Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin project. The audiovisual resources in this collection concern residential apartment buildings in and around the Yankee Hill and East Town neighborhoods on Milwaukee's Eastside. The larger project, however, includes apartment buildings (also known as apartment houses and flat blocks) throughout Milwaukee County, including any residential, commercial and mixed-use apartment building, apartment hotel, and row within the Milwaukee City limits, the adjacent villages of Shorewood and Whitefish Bay, the cities of Cudahy, St. Francis, and South Milwaukee of 4 or more living units built before 1939. Neither this digital collection nor the greater project are exhaustive, though the latter hopes to be one day.

 

 

About the Project

 

The digital humanities (DH) are neither a field, discipline, nor methodology but their integrated methodologies, technologies, and projects are seen as a new evolutionary stage of humanities research. Coupled with geographic information science (GIS) technologies, DH and GIS together can afford crucial insight into historic and contemporary moral inequalities and power differentials. Collaborative, digital, documentary preservation and cataloguing, not unlike those in archival science, together embody acts of democratic, humanistic care for our world and its inhabitants. Mapping built urban landscapes, is both a form of environmental urban justice and a digital preservational act that reveals systemic oppressions like prejudiced policies and divisive infrastructure.


This project reports my experience mapping over 1,200 apartment buildings built in Milwaukee, Wisconsin before 1939 – the housing response to a century of Milwaukee’s explosive population growth and industrial prowess. Multifamily dwellings like apartment buildings are understudied outside major cities like Paris, New York City, and Chicago; and almost entirely unstudied in Wisconsin given local focuses on Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, Milwaukee’s historic single-family mansions, and Milwaukee’s proximity to Chicago.


This map tool allows historians to investigate how, where, and why Milwaukee responded to housing shortages alongside rapid population growth; an extensive, early streetcar system; local industries like brewing and manufacturing; dehumanizing, restrictive racial covenants and immoral redlining practices; and analyze the spatial relationships among a particular type of home and between these homes and both natural and infrastructural resources.


By reconsidering vernacular architecture as the product of labor and craftsmanship in prewar America, we see architecture as a lineage of styles and forms, and we can better understand the forms and meaning of home under shared roofs and between shared walls. This is a digitally humanistic study of the spaces and places we call home.

 

 

Creator

 

Benjamin Teel, MLIS-Archives, MA English-Media, Cinema & Digital Studies

 

 

Contact Information

 

Please send any and all comments, questions, queries, inquiries, suggestions, recommendations, or feedback to: bpteel@uwm.edu Thanks! 

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