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Ruth Revels, First African American to Work in the Milwaukee Mayor’s Office

By MPL Staff on Feb 13, 2020 9:30 AM

Ruth Revels, Mayor’s Office, Milwaukee Sentinel, March 24th, 1950

On March 21st, 1949, Ruth Revels started as a secretary in the Mayor’s Office. Years later, former Mayor Frank Zeidler (1948-1960) remembered she was the first African American to work there. She was promoted and transferred to the Milwaukee Public Library in 1955.  She worked in the old Local History Department (merged with the Humanities Department in the 1980s) and with the Great Lakes Marine Collection. Now retired co-workers remember her reminiscing about her years at City Hall. Mayor Zeidler made a point to schedule her at the reception desk when southern politicians visited him. Some of them were shocked to see an African American working in the Mayor’s Office. When she retired in 1979, the Common Council honored her with a resolution for 30 years of public service and being a pioneer in the Mayor’s Office.

Ruth Revels, Central Library, The Milwaukee Journal, December 16th, 1959

One-time Milwaukee Public Library employees Richard Swearingen, Orval "Stretch" Liljequist and Ruth Revels at a Wisconsin Marine Historical Society program, courtesy of Richard Swearingen

Dan, Local History Librarian



CARL SANDSTEDT commented 10 months ago...
Great memories of working with Ruth and Paul Sotirin in Local History at MPL in the late sixties. She always had plenty of interesting stories, and was not only competent in her job but was a really nice person, a compliment I don't readily throw around in my old age.

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