FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DNA TESTING OF MASCOT’S FEATHERS YIELD CONCLUSIVE RESULTSWhat: Wisconsin Veterans Museum
partners with UW-Madison Biotechnology Center Molecular Archaeology Group (MAG)
at UW-Madison to announce results of DNA analysis testing gender of Civil War mascot “Old Abe”When:
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Civil War Exhibit
30 W. Mifflin St.
Madison, WI 53703Visuals:
Old Abe’s original feathers; Old Abe replica; historic articles
depicting icon’s gender debate
10 a.m. on Thursday, July 14, The Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Molecular Archaeology Group (MAG)
at UW-Madison will solve a 150 year
old mystery by revealing the results of a DNA analysis testing the
gender of the Civil War bald eagle mascot Old Abe. The Molecular
Archaeology Group tested samples from the mascot’s feathers that were
stored at the museum.
Named after President Abraham Lincoln, Old
Abe was the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the
Civil War and was present at over thirty battles between 1861-1864. The
bald eagle, widely assumed to be male, helped raise morale among men in
the regiment and narrowly escaped serious injury more than once. Old
Abe became a patriotic symbol of northern victory and achieved celebrity
status at rallies and parades across the country until its death in
1881.The bird’s legendary story took a turn in 1889, however, when
well-known suffragette Lillie Devereux Blake began giving speeches about
Old Abe having laid eggs, asserting the bird was actually female.
Further evidence for this claim was made in 1915 when Old Abe’s
taxidermist made a similar conclusion based on the eagle’s larger—and
therefore female—size. But many, including remaining veterans of the
8th, saw these claims as scandalous, sparking a nationwide debate over
the fact and fiction behind an American icon that continues to this day.