OBJECT HISTORY: Nash Car

By the beginning of the twentieth century, horses and wagons were quickly giving way to new horseless carriages, or automobiles—and the landscape of Wisconsin’s towns and roadways began to change as well. Wagon shops, once part of one of the largest industries in Wisconsin, began making automobile parts instead. By 1925, motor vehicle manufacture had…

OBJECT HISTORY: Babcock Butterfat Tester

The Babcock butterfat test, developed at the University of Wisconsin, provided a simple, accurate, and inexpensive way to assess milk quality and to pay farmers accordingly. By improving standards and rewarding the best milk producers, the Babcock butterfat test transformed the dairy industry in the United States and set Wisconsin firmly on the path to…

OBJECT HISTORY: Aztalan Fishing Weir

Fishing can take a lot of patience. A person could sit with their fishing pole for hours before they get a bite! Fishing weirs are time-saving technologies built in the water to trap fish. This fishing weir was created by the people who lived in the Early Mississippian settlement, Aztalan, sometime between the 10th and…

OBJECT HISTORY: Yerkes Telescope

The 40-inch refracting telescope at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, contains the world’s largest refracting lenses. Built in 1895, the telescope contains two lenses, one made of crown glass, and one made of flint glass. The lenses are each 40 inches in diameter, weigh 500 pounds, and have a 62-foot focal length. The telescope and observatory…

OBJECT HISTORY: Employers Mutual Audiometer

This Maico Audiometer was one of many devices used by health and safety consultants of the Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Company of Wisconsin throughout the mid-to-late 1960s. Employers Mutual was the very first workers compensation insurance company in the United States. The company was founded in Wausau, Wisconsin, in 1911 shortly after the nation’s first workers compensation law was…

OBJECT HISTORY: 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. This small upright vacuum was designed to be operated by hand and easy…