Wisconsin Historical Society

Online Exhibit

Cool Breezes: Handheld Fans in Fashion, Art, and Advertising

Handheld Fans in Fashion, Art and Advertising | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeDecorative hand-held fan with ivory feathers.

Punched Paper and Feather Fan with Mirror, 1863

Paris, France. Paper, ivory, feathers, and glass. Gift of Mrs. F.A. Kartak. Museum object 1945.658

In this online exhibit you'll experience the magic of handheld fans and how they can be beautiful, intriguing, useful, quirky and informational. Before the advent of electric fans and air-conditioning, handheld fans provided comfort on hot summer days. They began as useful unadorned objects, but during the 16th century became beautiful and elaborate fashion accessories for women. 

People Featured in This Exhibit
  • Charles Kendall Adams
  • Helen Louise Allen
  • Charles Allis
  • Sarah Esther (Ball) Allis
  • Ada M. Baker
  • Mary J. (Matthews) Smith Barnes
  • Edwin R. Bayley
  • William L. Breese
  • Timothy A. Chapman
  • Laura (Bowker) Chapman
  • Elizabeth Greene Upham Davis
  • Margaret Lucille (Chappell) Devereaux
  • Admiral George Dewey
  • Lulu Blanche (Devereaux) Dixon
  • James E. Doyle
  • Mrs. Emil Dreger
  • Dr. Lief and Betty Erickson
  • Anita Hazelwood Erickson
  • Margaret Faludi
  • Alberta Kata (Dixon) Finch 
  • Eliza (Eliot) Fitch
  • Grant Fitch
  • Elizabeth V. Foley
  • James L. Foley
  • Ethel Quarles French
  • Bessie T. Fricke
  • Zona Gale
  • Zona Gale
  • Maria Philipine (Pabst) Goodrich
  • Emory Levi Grant
  • Emma Hager
  • Walter Haight
  • Sybil Anna Hanks
  • Mary Esther (Vilas) Hanks
  • Mrs. Ellen M.S. Hawley
  • Edith E. (Johnson) Heisman
  • Lisetta Dorothea (Patzlaff) Horsfall
  • Evelyn Huggins
  • Julia (Morris) Jackson
  • Joseph W. Jackson
  • Lucy Kate (McGlachlin) Johnson
  • Jessie (Thomas) Knapp
  • Henry Eno Knapp
  • Jessie Thomas Knapp
  • Jessie Knapp
  • Lisetta Graves Lautz
  • Lorraine MacDermot
  • Lorraine Goodrich MacDermott
  • Samuel Marshall
  • Elizabeth Marshall
  • Mrs. Gregory Mason
  • Mrs. J.R. McCarthy
  • Edward Fenton McGlachlin
  • Joseph P. McGuire
  • Mary Elizabeth McIntyre
  • Frances E. Merrill
  • Isabelle Chapman Miller
  • Pat Nixon
  • Richard Nixon
  • Frederick Pabst
  • Margaret E. Whitney St. Peter
  • Mrs. J.V. Quarles
  • Emma (Their) Quarles
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Albert Rudberg
  • Eva M. Shepard
  • Harriet B. Steel
  • Dr. Thomas Steel
  • Lillias Steel
  • Adele Steinle
  • Adlai E. Stevenson
  • L. Stouder
  • William J. Sullivan
  • Mary Ann Sullivan
  • Caroline Swinnerton
  • Lydia (Vick) Syftestad
  • Lucy Thayer
  • Mary A. Thomas
  • Elizabeth Smith (Jacques) Upham
  • Don Alonzo Joshua Upham
  • King George V
  • Helen Ruth Warner
  • Andrew J. Warner
  • Casimir D. Zdanowicz
  • Frederica McBain Zdanowicz