Laurel Miller is an assistant museum educator at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.

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a photo of galena, a dark shiny mineral


Galena is a dark gray, shiny mineral that feels surprisingly heavy. It occurs in nature, sometimes in small pebbles and sometimes in bigger chunks like the ones at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Lead deposits like the ones in Wisconsin are left over from Wisconsin’s earliest history.

a cropped image of a hand-powered vacuum


People in the early 20th century witnessed the invention of all kinds of household tools we take for granted today, such as the vacuum cleaner, laundry machine, and refrigerator. This is a manual vacuum cleaner from 1911 at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.