Founding Industries of Wisconsin (Survey Project) Records, 1987-2006


The Founding Industries of Wisconsin Project was started in 1987 by three Milwaukee businessmen: Theodore Friedlander, marketing consultant and former Vice President of the Phoenix Hosiery Company; John C. Geilfuss, former Chairman of the Marine National Exchange Bank & Marine Corporation; and Edward Van Housen, Executive Vice President of the Marshall & Isley Bank. The three were concerned that a great deal of historical information about Wisconsin companies was in danger of being lost or destroyed. They established an organization, the Founding Industries of Wisconsin, to perform five functions:

  • to identify firms founded in Wisconsin--whether defunct, currently in operation, or now the division of a larger corporate entity--that employed 100 or more people at some point in their existence;
  • to query those firms and/or surviving stakeholders with a prepared questionnaire and to solicit documents and artifacts for preservation in an organized archive;
  • to gather detailed financial and other information from financial reporting sources and materials in various archives;
  • to make this information available in an organized form for researchers;
  • to indicate the location of materials about companies in specific repositories and provide a current statewide inventory.