Souvenirs of Service: the Things They Kept

Wisconsin servicemembers have been collecting souvenirs since the Civil War. Learn the stories of the things they kept.

The items, collected from the Civil War era to modern-day, range from artillery shells to Zippo lighters and everything in between. Each item is presented along with its captivating backstory.

There are also one-of-a-kind items on display. For example, a WWI radio operator from Racine brought home a treasured handmade mandolin, crafted for him by a local French woman and designed with the insignia of his division, the famed 32nd “Red Arrow” Division. An Eau Claire native who served in World War II sent his wife the nylon parachute that saved his life with instructions to make it into an evening gown for herself - she did and it is stunning. A WWII fighter pilot from Janesville credits his never being shot down during his 67 combat missions to a good luck doll a woman gave him while they sheltered during an air raid on London. He kept that doll in his sock drawer until he donated it to the Museum in 2007. These are just three of many fascinating items and stories the exhibit showcases.

The exhibit will be on view through 2022.

 

 

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