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Women's History Milwaukee

In honor of International Women’s Day (Friday, March 8, 2019), Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs announced that the City of Milwaukee will be honoring notable women in the city’s history with a series of informational vignettes that will run on the city’s website and the City Channel. “From influential international leaders to entrepreneurs to civil rights icons, women have shaped our city since its founding,” Alderwoman Coggs said.

The Women’s History Milwaukee initiative will highlight seven iconic local figures in history—one each day over the course of a week. During this informational campaign, photos and facts about the women of Milwaukee’s history will be featured on this page, and these same informational vignettes will also run regularly during City Channel programming.

Photo of Dr. Patricia McManus

Dr. Patricia McManus

Patricia McManus, is the President and CEO of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, and has been with that organization since 1988. She has a PhD in Urban Studies with an emphasis on health and human services from UW-Milwaukee. She received a bachelors and master’s degree in nursing from UW-Milwaukee. In February 2018, Dr. McManus was appointed as Health Commissioner of the Milwaukee Health Department by the Common Council, and was the first woman to hold that position. She served in that capacity until September 2018.

Photo of Marilyn Morheuser

Marilyn Morheuser

Milwaukee civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s; founding member of the Milwaukee United School Integration Committee (MUSIC), which served as a school integration umbrella organization; helped to organize the three school boycotts which MUSIC sponsored in 1964, 1965, and 1966, as well as the Freedom Schools.

Photo of Gwendolyn Moore

Gwendolyn Moore

Wisconsin's first African-American member of the U.S. Congress; also the first African-American woman elected to the Wisconsin state Senate in 1992, having previously served in the Wisconsin state Assembly.

Photo of Marlene Johnson-Odom

Marlene Johnson-Odom

Common Council member from 1980–2004, making her the longest-serving female Council member to date; sponsored renaming of 3rd St. to M. L. King Drive and the creation of the Minority Business Enterprise Program; championed developments throughout her district, particularly in Brewers Hill.

Photo of Ardie Clark Halyard

Ardie Clark Halyard

Co-founded the first African American-owned savings and loan association (S&L) and was the first woman president of the Milwaukee NAACP chapter.

Photo of Mildred Fish-Harnack

Mildred Fish-Harnack

Born in Milwaukee in 1902; studied journalism and literature at UW-Madison where she met her husband Arvid Harnack, a student from Germany; they moved to Berlin in the 1930s, and became spies for the Soviet Union; they were both executed by Hitler in the winter of 1942/43; in 1986 the Wisconsin legislature established her birthday, September 16, as an annual day of remembrance.

Photo of Beulah Brinton

Beulah Brinton

In 1870’s Bay View, the Brinton home was a social welfare center for the immigrant laborers at the nearby mill and their families; Beulah taught cooking, sewing, and English, provided recreation and entertainment, and established a lending library for the neighborhood. A community center is now named for her.

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