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Curators' Favorites: Ethnic & Cultural Identity

Nativity Scene Crèche Set

Nativity scene creche set assembled and used by a Polish-American family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin beginning around 1895. (Museum accession #2007.100) Generations of a Polish-American family celebrated the Christmas season by setting up this crèche set in their Milwaukee homes. The...
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Posted December 18, 2008



African American Bowling Shirt

Bowling shirt designed, made and worn by Earlene Fuller of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, c. 1995. (Museum object #2008.176.5) The sport of bowling has deep roots in the Midwest and Wisconsin, but it is not usually associated with African Americans. The sport...
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Posted December 11, 2008



Silver Wedding Presents

Silver ladle and spoon given to Syndonia (Hobbins) Jackson of Madison, Wisconsin as a wedding present, 1872. (Museum object #1955.304,A) As the daughter of a respected physician and a prominent member of Madison, Wisconsin society, Syndonia Josephine Hobbins would have...
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Posted December 4, 2008



De Langlade Fur Trade Pouch

Quilled buckskin pouch used by Charles de Langlade to carry his fur trade papers in northern Wisconsin, mid to late 1700s. (Museum object #1955.186) This pouch, presented to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1888 by Charles de Langlade Grignon, represents...
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Posted April 10, 2008



Father Groppi Collage

"Denial of Absolution" collage featuring likeness of civil rights activist Father James Edmund Groppi by artist Gloria Adair of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1966. (Museum object #1993.37.1) In 1966, Milwaukee, Wisconsin artist Gloria Adair felt compelled to compose a work of art...
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Posted January 31, 2008



Polka Rhythms Bandstand

Bandstand used by Chad Przybylski and his Polka Rhythms of Pulaski, Wisconsin, from c. 1980 until 2003. (Museum object #2003.10.1) Alongside cheese, beer and brats, the polka might be one of the most readily recognized Wisconsin icons. In fact, in...
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Posted January 17, 2008



Governor Doyle's Festivus Pole

Six-foot "floor model" Festivus pole and stand made of an extruded aluminum alloy manufactured by The Wagner Companies of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and used by Governor Jim Doyle, 2005. (Museum object 2007.84.1A-C) Unadorned and lusterless. These are typically not adjectives used...
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Posted December 13, 2007



Synagogue Window

Window from "The White Shul", a Sheboygan, Wisconsin synagogue, c. 1910. (Museum object #2006.108.1.1) Immigrants must reconcile sometimes contradictory impulses. Having abandoned their homes to escape repression or poverty, they often seek to recreate familiar communities in their new lands....
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Posted September 13, 2007



Vel Phillips's Common Council Desk

Desk used by Milwaukee Alder Vel Phillips, made by the Northwestern Furniture Company for Milwaukee City Hall, 1895. (Museum object #2007.16.1) From this roll-top desk on the floor of the Milwaukee Common Council chamber, Alder Vel Phillips forged a career...
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Posted March 1, 2007



Native American Courting Flute

Native American courting flute carved by Louis Webster, of Menominee, Stockbridge, Potawatomi and Oneida descent, 1994. (Museum object #1996.118.93) Once common among Wisconsin’s Woodland Indians, the use of traditional flutes began to decline in the late 1800s. Almost a century...
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Posted February 8, 2007



Miss Annie Mae's Church Hat

Hat worn by Annie Mae McClain to services at the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Museum object #2006.103.2) “But every woman that prayeth or propesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head.” I Corinthians 11:5 Annie Mae McClain of...
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Posted November 30, 2006



Wild Rice Threshing Machine

Improvised wild rice threshing machine used on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation, Wisconsin, c. 1990. (Museum object #1999.61.5) Harvested in the early autumn, wild rice has long been an important commodity to Native Americans, including the Ojibwe, who lived in...
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Posted October 5, 2006



Madison Fire Company Banner

Madison Fire Company No. 2 silk banner, 1857. (Museum object #1951.288) One year after Madison Fire Company No. 2 formed, the ladies of its relief association presented it with this silk banner. One side had been embroidered in gold thread...
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Posted July 27, 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



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



Rosemaled Norwegian Immigrant Trunk

Decorated trunk brought to Wisconsin from Norway by immigrant Mette Kristina Larsdotter Mokrid, c. 1845. (Museum object #2000.77.1) Mette Kristina Larsdotter Mokrid brought this painted trunk to the Readstown area of Vernon County, Wisconsin from her original home in Luster,...
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Posted May 11, 2006



Early Madison Hand-Carved Table

Early hand-carved table made by Levi Havemann, a German immigrant to Madison, c. 1860. (Museum object #1998.21.1) German-born Levi Havemann came to Madison, Wisconsin in 1854 as a skilled wood carver and cabinet maker. He lived at several locations around...
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Posted March 30, 2006



Necktie Quilt by Allie Crumble

Variation of a friendship quilt using neckties made by Allie Crumble, 1982. (Museum object #1996.118.16) Drawing from established quilt traditions, Allie Crumble offered a portrait of her African-American church community. This pieced quilt consists of thirty-six large squares with each...
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Posted February 2, 2006



Hanukkah Decoration for the Home

Cardboard Hanukkah decoration used by three generations of a Wisconsin family, c. 1960. (Museum object #2002.388.6) The Bernard and Annette Howards family of Racine, Wisconsin purchased this decoration and many others for their celebration of Hanukkah, c. 1960. The light...
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Posted December 29, 2005



Milwaukee Handicraft Project Depression-Era Artwork

Block-printed wall hanging produced by workers of the Milwaukee Handicraft Project, 1935-1943. (Museum object #1981.184.4) On November 6, 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression, the staff of the Milwaukee Handicraft Project (MHP) opened its doors to find a...
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Posted September 22, 2005



Norwegian Trinket Box

Trinket box brought to Wisconsin by Norwegian immigrants, c. 1870. (Museum object #1993.6.2) According to family history, Ole Olsen Kalvestrand received this trinket box from his father, who originally constructed it in 1794. His father intricately carved the front, top,...
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Posted May 12, 2005



Oldest Toast in Wisconsin?

Charred bread slices recovered from the Alden's Corners archaeological site in Dane County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #2002.211.1,3,5) In 2002, archaeologists from the Museum Archaeology Program of the Wisconsin Historical Society were surprised to find what may be the oldest pieces...
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Posted April 28, 2005



Hardanger Fiddle

Mid-nineteenth century violin converted into Hardanger fiddle by Knute Hellund, c. 1893. (Museum object #1973.56) In 1893, Theodore Mikkelson of Chetek, Wisconsin, gave his seventeen-year-old nephew, Adolph K. Austin, an old violin. Under the tutelage of his uncle, Austin learned...
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Posted March 31, 2005



Ukrainian Decorated Egg

Pysanky Ukrainian Easter egg decorated by Wisconsin artist Betty Pisio Christenson, 1980s. (Museum object #1996.118.356) This chicken egg is an example of pysanky, an intricately decorated Ukrainian Easter egg. The artist was Betty Pisio Christenson, of Suring, Wisconsin. Her parents...
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Posted March 24, 2005



Purim Costume

Costume worn by Gary Ray Howards of Racine during the Jewish holiday of Purim, 1957. (Museum object #2003.20.2) Each spring, usually in the month of March, Jews all over the world celebrate the annual festive holiday of Purim. Jewish custom...
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Posted March 17, 2005



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