From Milwaukee, a panoramic view of REALTORS® in 1917

Detail from the 1917 Milwaukee convention photograph (click image to see the full photo)

In late July 1917, REALTORS® from all around the United States and Canada descended on Milwaukee, WI, site of the 10th annual convention of the National Association of Real Estate Boards.  The mayor of Milwaukee opened the convention, followed by speeches and presentations on housing laws, homebuilding, land title systems, and financing techniques.  Towards the end of the first day of sessions, everyone filed outside to pose for a giant group photograph.

Of the 1,384 registered attendees, roughly 1,000 of them are depicted here outside the Milwaukee Auditorium, where the convention sessions took place.  A small, somewhat blurry version of the photograph was published in the August 1917 issue of the National Real Estate Journal as part of its convention coverage, but the original is over three feet long and full of sharp details.

Included in the crowd are several important figures from NAR’s early history, including R. Bruce Douglas, the second CEO of the National Association (and 1917 president of the Milwaukee Real Estate Board); Tom Ingersoll of Los Angeles, Douglas’s successor as NAR chief executive; William M. Garland, also from Los Angeles, president of NAR in both 1917 and 1918 (and the only person to have held that office for more than a year); and past NAR presidents William W. Hannan (1909), Samuel Thorpe (1911), Thomas Shallcross (1914); Walter Collins Piper (1915), and Henry P. Haas (1916).  The cluster of sign-wielding  REALTORS® at the back of the group is getting a head start on promoting the 11th annual convention.

The NAR Archives extends its thanks to the Greater Milwaukee Association of REALTORS® for their generous donation of this fascinating piece of REALTOR® history and for the opportunity to share it with NAR’s members.  View the full photograph in detail on our Flickr page, or, if you happen to be in Chicago, visit the NAR Archives to see it in person.

Frederik Heller

Managing Director of Information Services at the National Association of REALTORS®.

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