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Curators' Favorites: Politics & Government

Civil War Governor Harvey's Knife

Pocket knife found on the corpse of Wisconsin Governor Louis P. Harvey after he drowned in the Tennessee River on April 19, 1862. (Museum object #1969.4) Louis P. Harvey had been the Governor of Wisconsin for only a month when...
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Posted September 21, 2011



Atomic Age Evacuation Route Sign

Evacuation Route road sign used to direct Milwaukee, Wisconsin residents out of town in the event of a potential nuclear bomb detonation, installed 1955-1957. (Museum object #1996.121.1) A mushroom cloud over Milwaukee! During the mid-1950s many Milwaukeeans feared that the...
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Posted December 25, 2008



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



Teddy Roosevelt Campaign Bandana

Bandana featuring music score for the campaign song "We Want Teddy," used at a Milwaukee campaign rally for Theodore Roosevelt, 1912. (Museum object #1970.204) Do you for progression stand? Vote for Teddy! And reform in this great land? Vote for...
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Posted October 2, 2008



Lottery Ball Drawing Machine

Ball drawing machine used by the Wisconsin Lottery for Daily Pick 3 and Daily Pick 4 games, 1992-2000. (Museum object #2001.83.16.1A-B) How can politicians raise money for the ever-increasing costs of public services without extracting it from voters by continually...
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Posted September 11, 2008



Democratic Convention Delegate Badge

"Official National Democratic Convention" badge in support of candidate William Jennings Bryan, worn by Wisconsin delegate Charles Donohue in Denver, Colorado, July 1908. (Museum object #1997.36.1) Democratic delegates from around the country gathered in Denver from July 7 to 10,...
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Posted July 24, 2008



Civil War Loyalty Flag

20-star United States Flag used in initiation ceremonies to the Union League, where members swore to protect the Union and its values, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, 1862-1865. (Museum object #1951.213) Most Americans believe that the Civil War consisted of two...
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Posted June 12, 2008



Surveyor's Tree Blaze

Surveyor's tree blaze from the 1841 expedition to lay out the boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan, found at Trout Lake, Vilas County, Wisconsin. (Museum object #1977.97) Surveying is the means by which European settlers turned the North American landscape into...
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Posted June 5, 2008



Gumball Slot Machine

Trade stimulator gumball slot machine seized from a Shullsburg, Wisconsin tavern in 1945. (Museum object #2008.13.1A-B) When is gambling not gambling? When you're buying gum, too. At least that was the theory of many tavern owners. Authorities have tried to...
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Posted May 22, 2008



Victor Berger Campaign Banner

United States Senate campaign banner for Milwaukee Socialist Congressman Victor L. Berger, April 1918. (Museum object #1992.168) Milwaukee teacher and newspaper editor Victor L. Berger was arguably the most successful Socialist politician in the United States. This large poster documents...
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Posted May 1, 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



Governor Dreyfus's Red Vest

Red velveteen vest worn by Wisconsin Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus, c. 1975. (Museum object #1982.450.15) In 1978 Wisconsin chose Lee Sherman Dreyfus, then chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), as its 40th governor. Those who met Dreyfus found...
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Posted January 10, 2008



First Lady's Irene Evening Gown

Garnet velvet evening gown worn by Wisconsin First Lady Charlotte McAleer Kohler to President Eisenhower's 1953 Inauguration Ball. (Museum object #1960.211.2) The sparkling glamour of Hollywood in its heyday inspired designers to clothe their movie star clients in innovative and...
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Posted December 27, 2007



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



Civil War Draft Drum

Military draft raffle drum used to select draftee names in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the Civil War, 1863-1864. (Museum object #1966.174) Disorganization and dissent marked the state and federal governments' efforts to recruit troops during the Civil War. These efforts included...
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Posted November 8, 2007



Nuclear Fuel Assembly

Control rod and replica fuel assembly from Wisconsin's first nuclear power plant. (Museum object 1997.56.13-14) If this nuclear power plant fuel assembly had actually been used, the Wisconsin Historical Museum staff would be dead. The object shown at left is...
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Posted October 18, 2007



World Series Welcome Sign

"Welcome" sign used to decorate lamp posts in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1957 World Series. (Museum object #2007.68.1) Henry Aaron's 10th inning home run on September 23, 1957 defeated the St. Louis Cardinals and propelled the Milwaukee Braves into...
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Posted October 4, 2007



CCC Trunk

Trunk used by Werner Brunner while he worked on Civilian Conservation Corps projects in La Crosse County, Wisconsin, 1934-1935. (Museum object #1990.165.26,A) During the Depression of the 1930s, many young, unmarried, and unemployed men jumped at the opportunity to join...
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Posted May 10, 2007



State Capitol Spittoon

Ornamented bronze cuspidor (spittoon) used in the Wisconsin State Capitol, c. 1915-1955. (Museum object #1955.3600,A-B) Today considered an antiquated relic of a bygone era, this bronze cuspidor represents the high level of detail, craftsmanship, and quality that went into the...
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Posted April 26, 2007



Prohibition Soda Pop

Case of soda pop bottles shipped by the Kurth Company of Columbus, Wisconsin during prohibition, 1920-1933. (Museum object #1994.77.1) The day-to-day lives of many Wisconsin residents changed drastically with the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the...
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Posted April 5, 2007



1857 Promenade Dress

Promenade dress worn by Hannah Billinghurst of Juneau, Wisconsin, 1857. (Museum object #1955.1449,A) As wife of United States Congressman Charles Billinghurst in the mid-nineteenth century, Hannah Billinghurst of Juneau (Dodge Co.), Wisconsin would have been expected to attend state functions...
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Posted March 15, 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



Mrs. Fairchild's Worth Gown

Gown made by Charles Frederick Worth of Paris for Frances Fairchild of Madison, Wisconsin, 1880. (Museum object #1945.960,A) The dream of nearly any fashion-minded wealthy American woman in the late 19th century was to own a gown especially designed for...
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Posted February 22, 2007



Sue Ann Thompson's Inauguration Gown

Inauguration gown worn by Wisconsin First Lady Sue Ann Thompson at her first inauguration ball, 1987. (Museum object #2003.61.1a-b) “Glitter, glitter, everywhere” was how the Wisconsin State Journal reported Governor Tommy Thompson’s inauguration ball held January 5, 1987. The Capital...
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Posted December 28, 2006



Punch Card Voting Device

Votomatic punch card voting device used in Walworth County, Wisconsin, until 2000. (Museum object #2006.24.1) This Votomatic punch card voting device was last used in used in the City of Delavan, Walworth County, Wisconsin on election day, November 7, 2000....
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Posted November 2, 2006



Seamen's Union Knotwork Plaque

Plaque commemorating the passage of the 1915 Seaman's Act. (Museum object #1942.530) This commemorative plaque, which consists of photographs and text set within an intricately knotted ropework frame, was made to commemorate the passage of the milestone 1915 Seamen's Act....
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Posted August 31, 2006



Bra Flag

Land of the Freed-up Woman American flag banner made from bras, 1971. (Museum object #2000.79.1) By 1971, in the midst of the feminist movement, Marjorie Engelman of Green Bay, Wisconsin had experienced a new sense of liberation. She had started...
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Posted March 16, 2006



Forward Statue

Forward statue by Wisconsin artist Jean Pond Miner, 1893. (Museum object #1998.1.1) In 1895 sculptress Jean Pond Miner received an unusual honor for a woman of her day: her seven-foot tall allegorical statue Forward was given a prominent position at...
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Posted March 2, 2006



Flu Quarantine Sign

Influenza quarantine placard, c. 1910-1924, from the period of the "Spanish flu" epidemic. (Museum object #1978.404.50) The influenza epidemic of 1918-1919, which killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide, did not spare Wisconsin. During the last three months of...
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Posted January 12, 2006



Oldest Wisconsin License Plate

Oldest known surviving license plate in Wisconsin, issued to a Mount Horeb man, 1905. (Museum object #1966.493.1) Over the past century, automobiles have massively influenced Wisconsin’s built environment and many aspects of our social behavior. But things were not always...
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Posted January 5, 2006



Glass Used by Teddy Roosevelt after Assassination Attempt

Water glass used by Theodore Roosevelt just after he was shot by a would-be assassin in Milwaukee, 1912. (Museum object #1954.291) On the night of October 14, 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was addressing 9,000-12,000 people in Milwaukee Auditorium when he stopped...
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Posted October 13, 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



Sterling Hall Bombing Engine Fragment

Engine fragment from the van used in the Sterling Hall bombing, 1970. (Museum object #1994.8) This twisted piece of metal is the only known remnant of the van that carried the bomb that rocked the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus on...
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Posted August 18, 2005



Murderer's Execution Restraints

Arm and leg restraints that bound John McCaffary, the last man executed in Wisconsin, 1851. (Museum object #1976.249.1–.2) It cost Kenosha County just 75 cents to purchase these cotton and leather restraints that would later bind John McCaffary’s arms and...
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Posted August 11, 2005



Fairchild Portrait by John Singer Sargent

Portrait of Lucius Fairchild by John Singer Sargent, 1887. (Museum object #1942.305) After losing an arm at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, General Lucius Fairchild returned to a political career in Wisconsin, eventually serving as governor for three successive...
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Posted June 30, 2005



La Follette Casket Flag

United States Flag used to drape the caskets of both Robert M. La Follette, Sr. and Jr. (Museum object #1951.187) Robert M. "Fighting Bob" La Follette, an iconic figure in Wisconsin history, passed away on June 18, 1925 at the...
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Posted June 9, 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



The "Monster Knife" of John Fox Potter

Giant knife presented to John Fox Potter by Missouri Republicans after Potter's threatened duel with a Virginia congressman, 1860. (Museum object #1957.1122) John Fox Potter was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Wisconsin in 1856...
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Posted April 7, 2005



Woman Suffrage Tunic

Parade tunic worn by Wisconsin suffrage supporter during Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, 1916. (Museum object #1956.1450) Led by Theodora Youmans, President of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association (WWSA), Wisconsin suffrage supporters journeyed to Chicago on June 7, 1916...
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Posted February 24, 2005



Ojibwe Presentation Pipe

Ojibwe pipe presented to Wisconsin territorial governor James Duane Doty, 1844. (Museum object #1955.399,A) Tay-che-gwi-au-nee, a member of an Ojibwe band from the south shore of Lake Superior, presented this pipe to Wisconsin's territorial governor James Duane Doty on behalf...
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Posted February 11, 2005



Arndt Vest

Vest worn by Charles C.P. Arndt when he was shot on the floor of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, 1842. (Museum object #1963.300) On February 11, 1842 the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature met in Madison only to be interrupted by the shooting...
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Posted February 4, 2005



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