Milwaukee Press Club Records, 1885-2018


The Milwaukee Press Club is the oldest continuously operating press club in North America, and possibly the world. After efforts to establish a press club in Milwaukee failed in 1860, 1882, and 1883, four determined journalists formally established the Milwaukee Press Club on November 1, 1885. The club was to be a means of bringing together members of the newspaper profession, as well as a way to elevate the profession. Since its founding, the club has expanded its membership to include journalists working in other types of media, editors, publishers, and individuals with an interest in the press.

The club also expanded its membership to include women in August 1971, after protests from female journalists and the general public convinced club members to eliminate its "men only" rule. Mary Spletter was the first woman to cross the club's threshold after Press Club members voted to include women, and in addition to having lunch at the club, she was also asked to sign a plaque in honor of the occasion. Prior to 1971, the only female member of the club had been Edna Dunlop, who had joined the Press Club near the turn of the century--prior to the enactment of the no women rule sometime near the turn of the century.

The first location of the Milwaukee Press Club was in the Herold building, on the corner of Mason and Broadway. After a short residency in the Herold building, the Club moved several times in the next nineteen years, before settling into the third floor of the Miller Building, on the corner of Mason and Water Street, in 1904. In 1914, the Press Club moved again, this time to the eighth floor of the Jung Building on Water Street. There the club remained for over 30 years, until 1948, when it relocated to the Fine Arts building on Wells Street. At sometime during its years in the Fine Arts building, the club established a separate "corporate" headquarters, where the business of the club was conducted, while the quarters in the Fine Arts building remained more of a social gathering place for club members. This separation is continued to this day, with the business of the club transpiring primarily from the executive director's home or office, while the clubhouse is maintained as a more social venue.

The club's home in the Fine Arts building served it well for nearly thirty-five years, but in 1983, the club moved its location to the Marc Plaza Hotel on Wisconsin Avenue. Several more moves occurred after 1983, and the club resided for various lengths of time in the Brown Bottle Pub, the Germania building, the Posner building, and the Park East Hotel. Finally, in May 2000, the club completed the process of negotiating an agreement creating the "Milwaukee Press Club Bar" back in the Fine Arts building that had served as the club's home for much of its history.

One of the oldest continuing traditions of the Press Club is an annual picnic, an event dating back to 1895 when Club members would spend a weekend out on Pewaukee Lake. Over the years, other social activities included an annual theater event, which was eventually replaced by a formal dinner and awards ceremony. At the annual Gridiron Dinner, first held in 1917, and annually since 1957, the Press Club honors prominent Wisconsinites with its Headliner Award, and prominent members of both the local and national press with its Sacred Cat award. In 1980, the Press Club also began inducting members of the press into its Hall of Fame, honoring the recipients at an annual dinner of the same name.

In addition to the Sacred Cat, the Headliner and the Hall of Fame awards, the Press Club also holds an annual statewide contest to recognize excellence in journalism and the media. These Journalistic Excellence awards include recognition in sixty-seven different areas, such as best documentary, best sports feature, best editorial, etc., for print, radio, TV, and photographic journalism. Entries for the annual Journalistic Excellence awards are judged by out-of-state journalists, and the winners are honored at the Club's yearly Gridiron Dinner.

Since 1895, the Milwaukee Press Club has published Once A Year on an annual basis. Initially, Once A Year served as both a program and an advertising vehicle for the club's annual theater benefit. Over time, it came to serve as more of a yearbook for the club itself and also as an annual summation of the major events of the year in both Milwaukee and the world.

Milwaukee Press Club Presidents

1885-1887 James Langland
1888 Jerome A. Watrous
1889-1890 H.P. Myrick
1891 George H. Yenowine
1892 James W. Bannen
1893 Herman Bleyer
1894 William A. Rublee
1895 Julius Bleyer
1896 C.W. Emerson
1897 John G. Gregory
1898 Arthur Weld
1899 John J. Hannan
1900 George F. Kerr
1901-1902 William A. Bowdish
1903 Dan B. Starkey
1904 Galbraith Miller, Jr.
1905-1906 Malcolm C. Douglas
1907 John S. Gannaway
1908-1909 Oliver E. Remey
1910 George C. Nuesse
1911 George F. Lounsbury
1912 Oscar H. Morris
1913-1914 Charles Dean
1915 Walter L. Distelhorst
1916 John R. Wolf
1917 Jas. A. Skewes
1918 Jules Liebman
1919-1920 Ben Fuelleman
1921 Claude C. Manly
1922-1923 Charles H. Kelsey
1924 Paul Kayser
1925-1928 Manning Vaughan
1929 Edwin C. Hart
1930-1931 Walter Wyrick
1932 William S. Broker
1933 H.L. Ashworth
1934-1935 John R. Wolf
1936-1939 Arville Schaleben
1940-1943 Lloyd Gladfelter
1944-1946 Harvey W. Schwandner
1947-1948 H. Russell Austin
1949-1950 Ross M. Dick
1951-1952 Everett B. Swingle
1953-1954 Perry C. Hill
1955-1959 Frank J. Marasco
1960-1961 Harry L. Sonneborn
1962 Walter G. Wegner
1963 Jack E. Krueger
1964 Richard H. Leonard
1965 Trueman Farris
1966-1968 Bennett F. Waxse
1969 D. Raymond Kenney
1970 Frank J. Marasco, Jr.
1971 Mark Ashley
1972-1973 Chuck Johnson
1974-1975 Dion Henderson
1976-1977 John H. Thompson
1978 Leo Kissel
1979 Beth Slocum
1980-1981 Roger A. Stafford
1982 Joanne Williams
1983 Ray Doherty
1984 Scott J. Feldmeyer
1985-1986 Laurie Van Dyke
1987 Ronald L. Irwin
1988 Robert M. Dye
1989 Jayne Jeffery
1990 Tom Heinen
1991 Kenneth Roesslein
1992 Kay Magowan
1993 Ed Hinshaw
1994 Joe Smith
1995-1996 Kevin Fischer
1997 James Auer
1998 Wayne Youngquist
1999 Roseann St. Aubin
2000 Mark Zoromski
2001 Felicia Thomas-Lynn
2002-2004 David Niles
2005 Roger Stafford
2006 Steve Jagler
2007 Jon Anne Willow
2008-2009 Marilyn Krause
2010 Jim Nelson
2011 Kathy Mykleby