Frank P. Zeidler Papers, 1897-1977


Frank Zeidler was born in Milwaukee on September 20, 1912. He attended the University of Wisconsin, Extension Division; Marquette University; and the University of Chicago. Mr. Zeidler closed out the era of socialist mayors in Milwaukee---an era that began in 1910 and was interrupted only twice---when he served as mayor from 1948 to 1960. His three terms in office were marked by large-scale construction of public housing; the construction of the first educational television station in Wisconsin; slum clearance and city beautification programs; strong statements on behalf of civil rights; and the quadrupling of the size of the city. After his retirement from public office, Mr. Zeidler remained active in socialist parties on the national, state and local levels.

Frank Zeidler had ties with all of the organizations for which there are papers in this collection. Zeidler was a long time member of the Socialist Party/Social Democratic Federation and of its National Action Committee which was primarily concerned with the anti-Vietnam war movement during the time period documented in this collection. In 1972, when the Socialist Party/Social Democratic Federation split into factions, Zeidler emerged as leader of one faction, the Socialist Party, U.S.A., which subsequently moved its headquarters from New York to Milwaukee. Zeidler had equally strong ties to the Socialist Party of Wisconsin (called Socialist Party - Social Democratic Federation of Wisconsin until 1969), a regional affiliate of the Socialist Party/Social Democratic Federation. The Socialist Democratic Party of America - Milwaukee Branch (known in its earliest days as the Social-Democracy of America) was the first formal manifestation of socialism in Milwaukee when it was founded in 1897. It was the progenitor of the party whose candidate, Emil Seidel, was elected first socialist mayor of Milwaukee (and in the United States) in 1910. The Public Enterprise Committee (also known as The Public Enterprise Committee of Milwaukee County and the Municipal Enterprise Committee) was formed in 1947 by a coalition of socialists and leftist Democrats to promote the candidacy of Frank Zeidler for mayor of Milwaukee. After leaving public office in 1960, Mr. Zeidler held various offices in this organization.