Mid-Town Neighborhood Association (Milwaukee, Wis.) Records, 1961-1980

Scope and Content Note

The collection has been arranged in two series: Records of the Mid-Town Neighborhood Association and Records of Other Organizations. The majority of the items date from 1968 to 1975, and were gathered by Father John Baumgartner, who was a member of the Association's executive board, and MTNA president or vice-president since 1963. The records represent a broad, if not complete and detailed, view of the many activities of the Association. Since the MTNA was one of the earliest such organizations formed in Milwaukee in response to a growing problem of “urban blight,” it shows local response to city and federal urban planning throughout most of the 1960s and 1970s.

Included with the RECORDS OF THE MID-TOWN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION are organizational and administrative documents such as articles of incorporation and by-laws; minutes, memoranda, membership records of the executive board, minutes of the general membership meetings and membership lists. Several folders of correspondence reflect the general activities of the Association, especially of the executive officers and their interaction with the city's Department of Redevelopment. There is a fair amount of correspondence dating from the organization's beginnings, but it does not always present a complete outline of MTNA, as the quantity and type of correspondence varies greatly from year to year. Financial records of the Association are incomplete. Check stubs are available for several years, which, combined with the treasurer's records, give a general view of income and disbursement for the years 1969-1973, but items from earlier and later years are missing, except for an occasional list of dues paid.

Information on the activities of various committees is sparse and must be gathered from the executive board and general membership minutes, lists of committee members, and fragmentary memoranda. Committees usually were formed to address specific issues and thus tended not to be of long duration or of a dominant nature within the Association. An exception to this is the Rehabilitation Committee which was constantly active in neighborhood improvement. One folder containing housing and property maintenance records gives information about empty lots owned by the city but contracted for maintenance to MTNA. Also in this file are lists of houses to be inspected by the city and rechecked by MTNA for completed improvements. Each of the last two mentioned housing records also illustrates the cooperative efforts of the city of Milwaukee and MTNA.

Other records include an interrupted run of the organization's newsletters, Midtown News and its successor, MTNA, together with a mailing list. A handwritten daily log, 1965, 1968-1972, appears to be an account of office activity, and provides a good record of actual MTNA involvement in the community. The file containing MTNA/Cooperation West Side Association (COWSA) youth projects documents MTNA's concern for youth and delinquency problems as well as for the elderly, poor, and minorities that provided the motivation for many projects.

Several maps, some of which have been placed in an oversize folder, follow the changing neighborhood plans proposed by the city as money from the federal government was either withheld or made available and as input from local groups was incorporated into the plans. News clippings illustrate the activities of MTNA and reveal the impact that a neighborhood association can have on city politics and planning.

The series containing the RECORDS OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS documents the involvement of MTNA and its officers with other social action groups in the city, and with the Midtown Conservation Project. The latter records directly pertain to the Association's reactions to city plans and its attempts to mold these plans to fit neighborhood needs and desires. Many of these records, specifically from the Citizens' Conservation Council, the Milwaukee Alliance of Concerned Citizens, and the Westside Action Coalition, are those of umbrella organizations which coordinated otherwise separate neighborhood groups and thereby increased community input to city government. MTNA was a member of these umbrella groups. The Midtown Clergy was a similar organization which tried to coordinate the work of activist clergy, among them Father Baumgartner.