Roman B.J. Kwasniewski Photographs, 1897-1959,  (bulk 1920-1931)

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains glass negatives, nitrate negatives, safety film negatives, lantern slides, photographic prints, photographic postcards, and miscellaneous correspondence/documents of the late Roman B.J. Kwasniewski. Kwasniewski's work provides a detailed picture of life on Milwaukee's south side, largely from 1920 to 1931.

Kwasniewski took most of the images at his Park Studio on Lincoln Avenue on Milwaukee's south side. Photographs depict family events such as anniversaries, first communions, funerals, graduations, and weddings. Other images include scenes of accidents, houses, construction sites, businesses, fraternal organizations and activities, and sports. Also included are social events such as holiday celebrations and "hard times" parties which were popular in the 1920s.

Because Kwasniewski kept detailed records, a large percentage of the photographic images are identified by either the subject of the photographic image or the customer's name. It is important to note that many times the name identified with a photographic image may not be the person(s) appearing in the photographic image, but rather the person(s) who actually ordered or purchased the print.

The collection contains 29,153 negatives, over 6,000 photographic prints, 80 lantern slides, and 247 documents mainly consisting of correspondence between the photographer and his customers. These documents were found with the negatives in the original envelopes used by Kwasniewski and processed as part of the collection.

The collection contains 27,835 glass negatives. The majority of these are 5x7 (95% of all glass negatives). It also contains 1,003 nitrate negatives and 313 safety film negatives of varying sizes. Eighty lantern slides from the 1910s and 1920s primarily depict coming attractions at local theaters, as well as other ads and miscellaneous subjects.