Sherman Park Community Association Records, 1971-2002

Scope and Content Note

The Bingo files (1981-1987) concern a joint effort by the SPCA, Fond du Lac-North Business Association and the Women's Coalition to raise money to fund their projects.

Block Watch and Block Club files (1988-1994) document the development of the block club/watch movement in the Sherman Park area. The SPCA began organizing such clubs in 1988, using a community organizer, and conducted a survey of what clubs already existed in the area, what help they needed and which ones needed to be reorganized. Some of the concerns included pawn shops, drug houses, and youth crime.

The Board of Directors files (1974-1994) provide a good overview of many aspects of the SPCA's involvement in community projects and development. The records outline the SPCA's goals, purposes and activities, and contain information on the various committees of the organization. The files also describe funding issues, grant proposals, surveys and community programs.

The files of the Business and Economic Development Committee (1987-1991) and the Business and Economic Development Project (1985-1991) describe the combined effort of the SPCA, project director Vivian Fehr, and local businesses to improve economic conditions, and to encourage businesses to locate and stay in Sherman Park. Some of the efforts of these groups included surveying local businesses to pinpoint the problems for businesses in the area; offering low cost security systems to local businesses; improving the local crime situation; cleaning up business districts, and encouraging business owners to keep their areas clean; and most of all, getting local businesses involved in the committee.

The City West Arts files (1979-1983) document the activities of an SPCA committee involved in creating interest in the arts in the Sherman Park community. The committee undertook many projects such as the Concerts of the Arts, poetry readings and workshops, dance exhibitions, jazz and blues concerts at local churches and taverns, talent showcases, and art competitions such as the Side Walk Drawing contest for young people. The records document many programs, community opinion, and results.

Files of the Duplex Starter Home Program (1977-1979), Fair Housing, and the Open Housing Program, among others, deal with attempts to encourage diversity in the Sherman Park neighborhood. The programs discouraged absentee ownership, which the SPCA saw as one of the major factor in the decline on the area, leading to lack of pride in the community, higher crime rates, and a general downward trend in property values and appearance. The records also deal with real estate block busting and insurance red lining, practices which made it difficult to get loans for housing, brought down property values and affected the movement of certain groups of the population.

The Executive Committee files (1983-1994) are similar to the Board of Directors files in that they outline the activities of the SPCA. The files contain information on funding, other committees of the SPCA, programs and hiring issues.

The Mass Transit Advisory Committee files (1984-1987) discuss the building of two freeway extensions, the Gap Closure and the Stadium Freeway Extension. The records include a small booklet listing pro's and con's of the two proposals, their effect on mass transit, and alternatives. Much of the material in the files covers ways to change and improve the existing mass transit system, making it more profitable and useful. Several alternative systems are evaluated including light rail, the freeway extensions and the bus system.

The files of Milwaukee Associates in Urban Development (1983-1996) primarily involve the SPCA's volunteer program. This was a program very similar to Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) as it placed unemployed people as apprentices with community organizations to gain experience in community development and organizing. The program which placed the unemployed was called the Community Development Apprentice Program.

The Milwaukee Teen Initiative Program was part of the Greater Milwaukee Crime Prevention Project. The files (1987-1989) identify goals of the project which were to identify truant prone, non-delinquent youths and get them involved with affiliated community organizations.

The Mobility Assistance Program files (1982-1984) concern a program intended to expand housing opportunities for families and individuals with low and moderate income levels within a designated area and to assist these families in searching for housing. The records include program policies and procedures, and also faculty reports.

The Neighborhood Development Program files (1989-1990) contain mainly financial and grant information. This project was intended to stop a decline in the quality of housing and life in the lowest income census tracts.

The Personnel Committee files (1985, 1987-1988, 1994) contain minutes, policies and procedures, and job descriptions. Names of individuals seeking positions within the association are not included.

The Photograph files contain photos from many different SPCA events and projects. Some of these include the Goblin Parade, a Halloween event for children; protest marches; Kwanzaa celebrations and many more. Most of the photographs are labeled, but few are dated. When received, the photographs were originally filed in alphabetical order, and that arrangement has been retained; photographs found elsewhere in the records have been added to this arrangement. A file may contain photographs of people, SPCA events, or Sherman Park locales all beginning with that letter.

The Scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings which mainly deal with racial problems in high schools and integration of the schools in 1978 and 1979. Not all of the clippings deal with Milwaukee schools, and many concern Madison.

The Shermanfest files (1991-1996) document the planning, organization, and outcome of the local festival put on annually by the SPCA. Included in the files is correspondence, expense and profit reports, and evaluations of the effectiveness of the event for each year. Shermanfest offers a business fair, food, rides, music and other events.

The SPCA v. Wauwatosa Realty files (1977-1987) contain correspondence and legal motions concerning the lawsuit filed by the SPCA and 39 people against Keske Realty Inc., Relocation Realty Inc., Towne Realty Inc., and Wauwatosa Realty Co. charging violations of federal fair housing laws. The suit alleged that the realty companies steered black home buyers into black and interracial neighborhood while steering white home buyers away from these same neighborhoods. A complaint was also filed with HUD.

Sherman Park News and Sherman Park Today (1971-2002) are the newsletters put out by the SPCA. Most issues are included, though there are some gaps. Until 1983, they are in newsletter form and are filed with the main part of the collection in alphabetical order. After 1983 they are in newspaper format and are with the oversized materials. These newsletters contain considerable information about the activities of the SPCA and the character of the Sherman Park community.

Surveys were often conducted by the SPCA. The Housing Committee conducted annual housing surveys in which the surveyors took a critical look at the houses, garages, yards, walks, fences, and bushes in the Sherman Park area. Problems were listed for each address, and a letter was sent to the owner indicating repairs were needed; some addresses were referred to the building inspector.