The Milwaukee Press Club is rich in tradition and successful in its mission to provide meaningful professional opportunities for its members today. From one of the nation’s most eclectic and comprehensive collection of signatures from prominent politicians, journalists and other celebrities to some of the city’s most dynamic news-making events, the Milwaukee Press Club offers something all too rare in the media community today – a sense of history and place coupled with real-world professional value.
Best of all, our mascot is a mummified cat two of our members stole back in 1897. His name is Anubis, and you can see him anytime at the Newsroom Pub, our excellent headquarters operated by the world-famous Safe House Restaurant. How many clubs can say that?
The purpose of the Club is the welfare and advancement of the journalistic profession and related vocational activities and to support of the public’s right to know. This is pursued through public recognition of outstanding professional achievements, publication of an annual magazine dedicated to journalism, programs of professional interest and provision of facilities for meetings and educational interchange among the Press Club members and with community leaders.
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 journalists formally established the Milwaukee Press Club on Nov.1, 1885. The club was to be a means of bringing together newspaper professionals, as well elevate the profession in general. Since its founding, the club has expanded its membership to include journalists working in other media, editors, publishers and individuals with a specific professional interest in the press.
Prior to 1971, the only female member of the club was Edna Dunlop who joined near the turn of the twentieth century. Later, a “men only” policy was adopted. It was finally overturned in August of ’71, after female journalists and the general public created an outcry against the antiquated practice. Mary Spletter was the first woman to cross the club’s threshold, and in addition to having lunch at the club, she was asked to sign a plaque in honor of the occasion.
While the Milwaukee Press Club prides itself on its steadfast tradition of fostering journalistic camaraderie, it’s led a vagabond existence in terms of its physical home. The first Milwaukee Press Club headquarters were in the Herold building at the corner of Mason and Broadway streets. The club moved several times in the next 19 years before settling into the third floor of the Miller Building at the corner of Mason and Water streets in 1904. In 1914, the Press Club moved again, this time to the eighth floor of the Jung Building on Water Street. The club remained there for more than 30 years until 1948, when it relocated to the Fine Arts building on Wells Street. At some time during its years in the Fine Arts building, the club established a separate business headquarters, while the Fine Arts location remained a social gathering place for club members.
In 1983, the club moved to the Marc Plaza Hotel on Wisconsin Avenue. Several more moves occurred after 1983, including stints at the Brown Bottle Pub, the Germania building, the Posner building, and the Park East Hotel. Finally, in May of 2000, the club unveiled its current (and hopefully permanent) home, the Newsroom Pub, in cooperation with the locally-venerated Safe House, at 137 E. Wells Street.
One of the longest surviving traditions of the club is the collection of signatures of visiting dignitaries. The signature collection, which numbers more than 1,200, dates back to the 1890s. Originally, dignitaries signed their names on the wooden walls of the Press Club. When that facility was vacated, club members snuck in and cut out the signatures. Since then, dignitaries have signed their names on mat board. The entire collection was donated to the Urban Archives of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2000. The signatures currently on display at the Newsroom Pub are technically on loan.
Board of Governors
A 13-person board of officers and directors governs the Milwaukee Press Club. Officers are elected annually, while Directors are elected for two-year terms. The President-elect is an elected position, with the seat-holder automatically becoming President upon the election of a new President-elect each fall. The new board is installed during the club’s annual meeting in September. In addition to elected members, non-voting ex-officio members round out the board.
2023-2024 Board of Governors
President: Maryann Lazarski, Milwaukee PBS
President-Elect: James B. Nelson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Treasurer: H. Carl Mueller, Mueller Communications, LLC
Secretary: Fraser Engerman, Walgreens Co.
Terms ending in 2025:
Claire Koenig, VISIT Milwaukee
Scottie Lee Meyers, Milwaukee PBS
Nyesha Stone, Carvd N Stone
Terms ending in 2024:
Charles Benson, TMJ4 News
Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Bruce Harrison, TMJ4 News
Elizabeth Hummitzsch, Mueller Communications LLC
Marilyn Krause, Krause Communications
Past-president: Corri Hess, Wisconsin Public Radio
Liaison to the House (Newsroom Pub): Jim Nelson
Past President’s Council liaison: Kathy Mykleby, Retired, WISN-TV
MPC Endowment liaison: Joel Dresang, Landaas & Co.
Click here to view the club’s previous presidents.
Contribute to Journalism Excellence
The endowment carries out its mission by providing scholarships to students, funding journalism-related education programs and supporting activities of the Milwaukee Press Club.
Support journalistic excellence in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin and become part of the oldest continuously operating press club in the country, founded in 1885. The Press Club also supports the MPC Endowment Ltd., which awards annual journalism scholarships to students and provides grants to journalism programs.