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Curators' Favorites: Agriculture & The Environment

Granger Gourd

Ceremonial container made from a gourd, presented to Wisconsin Governor William R. Taylor, 1874. (Museum object #1993.53) In the fall of 1873, Wisconsin wheat farmers were hopping mad. Expecting to profit from a bumper harvest, they were furious when the...
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Posted November 6, 2008



Giant Punt Gun

Punt gun used to hunt waterfowl on Lake Mendota, Madison, Wisconsin, c. 1866-1870. (Museum object #1947.1743) Talk about bang for the buck! (Or should that be that "bang for the duck"?) Made by August Herfurth of Madison, Wisconsin, this jumbo...
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Posted August 14, 2008



Dairyland Rat Poison

Dairyland Rat Poison container made for the Wisconsin Pharmacal Co. of Milwaukee, 1955-1965. (Museum object #1999.143.34) The same substance that can save your life can also kill you. This is emphatically the case for the compound dicumarol, developed in the...
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Posted June 26, 2008



Vitamin-Finding Feces Bucket

Sheetmetal bucket with wooden handle used to collect cow manure during nutrition experiments at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, 1907-1911. (Museum object #1992.103) It may be hard to believe, but this rather plain looking (and perhaps once malodorous) feces...
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Posted May 29, 2008



John Muir's Clockwork Desk

Clockwork study desk built by naturalist John Muir while at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1861-1863. (Museum object F1998.85.1) John Muir (1838-1914) was one of America's most influential conservationists. A naturalist, world traveler, and prolific writer, Muir was a champion...
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Posted April 17, 2008



Ho-Chunk Hide Scraper

Wooden handled hide scraper with steel blade made and used by Ho-Chunk Indians in Wisconsin in the early 20th century. (Museum object #1951.949) Hide scrapers have long been an essential tool for Native Americans living in Wisconsin and throughout the...
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Posted February 7, 2008



Lumber Company Scrip

Lumber company scrip issued by Knapp, Stout & Co., Barron County, Wisconsin, between about 1878-1890. (Museum object #N4001) In the forests of northern Wisconsin, ready cash was frequently hard to come by in the nineteenth century. This was especially true...
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Posted January 24, 2008



Donald's "Educational" Marbles

Jar of marbles used in Wisconsin fair exhibits by Professor John Sweet Donald of the University of Wisconsin during the 1920s. (Museum object #1953.663) While today people tend to flock to the Wisconsin State Fair for attractions like rides, animals,...
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Posted July 26, 2007



Babcock's Revolutionary Dairy Invention

Babcock butterfat tester set used in Adams County, Wisconsin, c. 1895. (Museum Object #1948.589; donated to WHS by Elsie Schieber Patrick) Wisconsin will always be known as America's Dairyland, but there is more to the moniker than just catchy slogan...
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Posted May 31, 2007



Bull Semen Parachute

Parachute used by the University of Wisconsin to deliver fresh bull semen to farmers in rural areas, 1944-1947. (Museum object #1993.7) Even though nearly 60 percent of all cattle today are born to cows that have never had actual contact...
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Posted April 19, 2007



Watercolor Farm Scene by Paul Seifert

Landscape view of the Martin Luetscher II farmstead, Honey Creek Township, Wisconsin, c. 1875 (Museum object #2005.182.1) This vibrant watercolor painting, by renowned German American folk artist Paul Seifert, documents an early Wisconsin farmstead, the pioneer farm family who resided...
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Posted November 16, 2006



Cranberry Harvesting Rake

Handmade all wooden cranberry rake used for harvesting cranberries in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin, early 20th century. (Museum object # 1973.121) The cranberry, Wisconsin’s official state fruit, grows on vines in peat or sandy marshes. In the early days of cranberry...
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Posted September 14, 2006



Copper Swiss Cheese Kettle

Copper kettle used to make Swiss cheese at the Tuscobia Cheese Factory near Rice Lake, Wisconsin, c. 1910 to 1969. (Museum object #2004.64.1) Swiss cheese was traditionally made in round, copper kettles because the metal heats quickly and uniformly. This...
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Posted June 22, 2006



Bolens Garden Tractor

Garden tractor manufactured by the Gilson Bolens Manufacturing Co., Port Washington, Wisconsin, 1928-1939. (Museum object #2001.1.1) This multi-purpose, walk-behind garden tractor helped bring the advantages of gasoline power to small farmers and market gardeners across America. It is equipped with...
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Posted June 15, 2006



Migrant Workers’ Bunk Beds

Bunk beds used by the Contreras family, Mexican-American migrant workers, in Wautoma, Wisconsin, 1970s-1980s. (Museum object #1999.16.1A-G) If home is where you rest your head, this bunk bed documents the process of Chicano migrant workers learning to call Wisconsin home....
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Posted June 8, 2006



Hoard's Dairyman Farm Milk Bottle

Half gallon milk bottle used by Hoard's Dairyman Farm of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, c. 1934-1944. (Museum Object 1977.354.84) This bottle documents a man, a journal, and a farm that were instrumental in transforming Wisconsin into the Dairy State. William Dempster...
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Posted June 1, 2006



Anti-spearfishing Concrete Walleye Decoy

Concrete walleye decoy purchased at PARR Rally in Minocqua, Wisconsin, April 15, 1989. (Museum object #1990.178.1) In the spring of 1989, tensions over Native American off-reservation spearfishing rights reached a boiling point in northern Wisconsin. Anti-spearfishing organizations encouraged the design...
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Posted May 18, 2006



Alice in Dairyland Dress Model

Winning entry for the first Alice in Dairyland dress design, 1948. (Museum object #2005.157.1) On June 28, 1948, the Wisconsin Centennial Dairy Committee informed Miss Betty Lou Jahn of Milwaukee, the maker of the model dress seen to the left...
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Posted December 1, 2005



"Broken Star" 4-H State Fair Quilt

"Broken Star" quilt made from flour and feed sacks for a 4-H project, 1931. (Museum object #2005.115.1) Elda Strahm, a farm girl from York Township in Green County, Wisconsin, made this quilt as part of a 4-H project when she...
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Posted August 4, 2005



"Blitz Fog" Pesticide Cocktail

"Blitz Fog" pesticide package, manufactured for Northern Industries, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, c. 1965-1967. (Museum object # 1999.143.22) This package of "Blitz Fog," which features a casually dressed woman eradicating pesky mosquitoes as she tidies her lawn with a power mower,...
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Posted April 21, 2005



Birchbark Maple Sugar Container

Maple sugar container made by missionary Rosalie Dousman, mid-1800s. (Museum object #1969.419) This object celebrates the traditional Menominee springtime activity of making maple sugar. Made from birchbark and decorated with porcupine quills, this birchbark box, constructed to house sugar, was...
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Posted March 10, 2005



Fair Ribbon Quilt

Quilt made of fair prize ribbons won by William H. Milward between 1908 and 1934. (Museum object #2004.12.1) Made by Elizabeth (Meibohn) Milward, of Madison, Wisconsin from about 250 award ribbons won by her husband William Henry Milward for his...
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Posted January 17, 2005



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