This I Love

Every volunteer and staff member has a few collection items that capture their imagination in a special way. We started a series in our monthly newsletter to highlight these items and share them with the museum community.

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Museum of Broadcast Communications
Steve Jajkowski, Archivist

"As the Midwest's only major radio and television institution, the Museum of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago is an experience of broadcasting history and wonder with an archive of nearly 100,000 hours of programming including more than 10,000 commercials dating back to the 1950s. The MBC also has on display many broadcast artifacts including one of the cameras that telecast the first of four televised presidential debates between then Senator John F. Kennedy and then vice-president Richard M. Nixon. The camera, designated Camera #2, is a RCA TK-11, a black and white unit that focused on Kennedy during their first debate in Studio 2 of WBBM-TV on September 26, 1960. While three other debates were scheduled in other cities, the first is referred to as 'The Great Debate' and to many viewers, the decision maker for the next president."

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Jewish Museum of Maryland
Joanna Church, Collections Manager

"This transferware saucer shows an idyllic little view of Maryland's Washington Monument (the first monument in the country dedicated to George Washington, as we'll happily remind you). Part of a series of 'Old Baltimore Views', the saucer was made in the early 20th century for Hochschild, Kohn & Co., one of Baltimore's largest department stores. Like many of the city's major retail outlets, Hochschild-Kohn was founded and owned by Jewish merchants, and for many decades it staked a claim on the hearts (and the wallets) of Baltimore residents. I love this piece not only because I am a fan of transferware ceramics, but also because it demonstrates that so much of our mission can be reflected in one small artifact: Maryland history, the history of the local Jewish community, and the everyday lives of those community at Hochschild-Kohn, bringing home some commemorative china, and drinking tea."

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Monroe County History Center
Hilary Fleck, Collections Manager

"This artifact is rather unusual for a small historical museum in Central Indiana to possess as bears have been rarely seen in Indiana since the time of our early pioneers. However, this 7 foot 6 inch tall Kodiak Bear is a key artifact in the collection of the Monroe County History Center. The mount came to the History Center from the Schmalz family, who owned a long-standing department store in Bloomington, Indiana. The owner, Roy Schmalz, was an avid hunter and traveled the world big game hunting. Among his trophies are a buffalo, cougar, polar bear, moose, and this artifact, a Kodiak bear. Mr. Schmalz received permission to hunt the bear from the Federal Government in 1949 because at that time, Alaska was not yet a state in the Union. Kodiak bears live exclusively on the Kodiak Islands in Alaska.

This bear made its way into our museum because its taxidermy form became a local fixture in Bloomington for a number of years. Mr. Schmalz sold hunting gear and also displayed his hunting trophies in his department store. Many local adults remember as children going into the department store and seeing the bear. Once the store closed in 1988, the family donated the much loved bear to the Monroe County History Center. In 2013, the History Center sponsored a local school contest to name the bear, and 'Monroe' was the hands down favorite. 'Monroe' still greets visitors as they first walk into the exhibits galleries, and can be heard roaring throughout the museum!"

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Grey Roots Museum & Archives
Sim Salata, Collections Manager

"I love this snuffbox because of its large, engaging graphic of a 19th century working man's face, cheekily peeking out from beneath the visor of his black cap. He could be a bricklayer, sailor, cab driver, bartender or cobbler - he is the working class 'any man' of his time, and his pleasant expression is likely meant to be a selling feature of this container. The box is not in the best condition, but the graphic can still teach us about the history of men's fashion! This fellow sports muttonchops (an extravagant style of sideburns - also known as sideboards or side whiskers), which extend from the hairline to below the ears. The term sideburns is a 19th-century corruption of the original burnsides, named after American Civil War general Ambrose Burnside who was known for his unusual facial hairstyle that connected thick sideburns by way of a moustache, but left the chin clean-shaven.

In period literature, 'side whiskers' usually refers to this style, in which the whiskers hang well below the jaw line. As with beards, sideburns went quickly out of fashion in the early twentieth century. In World War I, in order to secure a seal on a gas mask, men had to be clean-shaven (this did not affect mustaches)."

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National Woman's Party

"In 1917, after failed campaigns to hold the party in power responsible for woman suffrage and therefore push President Wilson and the Democrats out of office, the National Woman's Party (NWP) turned to a new tactic and began picketing the White House. Pickets were held daily and even included a picket on Sunday for working women who could not take off work to picket for fear of being fired. Though faded, this banner is particularly special to us because of its significance as a physical item showcasing the tactics of the NWP in their fight for suffrage and because it speaks to the collaborative reach as the NWP worked with other interest groups for woman suffrage. It's also timely as we celebrate Labor Day this month.

This banner was one of many carried on the picket line by the NWP. We have many more banners in the collection, but we are also missing a large portion, as banners were ripped apart by angry onlookers, or perhaps taken home by pickets and today mostly likely remain in private hands. Learn more about our #CircleofSuffrage initiative here and contact the National Woman's Party to contribute your story."

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Dekalb County History Museum

"A little girl's shoe was found within the walls of a home in Sycamore, IL when it was undergoing reconstruction. The black shoe is made of soft, very worn leather and has 6 buttons and most likely dates from the early 1900's. We have established only the where factor of our shoe mystery but we are not able to determine the "when and why" factor. A common reason for hiding shoes in walls during construction seems to be a belief held worldwide of good luck or warding off the devil. Perhaps the parents of the child believed that hiding the shoe in a wall would bring them good luck. Although our mystery most likely will not be resolved, our museum staff and volunteers like to believe the little girl's hidden shoe did bring good fortune to her and her family in their new home."

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The Temple Judea Museum
Rita Rosen Poley, Director and Curator

"This photograph is part of our collection of Press Photographs. Each photograph has the byline, date and caption of its publication on the reverse. The entire collection is precious to me because of the immediacy of the course of human history it conveys. In this particular photo, feelings of pride, joy and anxiety are so obvious. The face of the older man being sworn in as a new citizen of Israel shows his anxiety at the changes he has endured, and will continue to endure. Is it his wife sitting nearby whose face radiates pride, or perhaps the anticipation of the freedom and opportunity waiting in their new homeland?"

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Delaware Historical Society
Jennifer Potts, Curator of Objects

"This large and wonderfully fanciful needlework was created by Sarah E. Anthony of Smyrna, Delaware for display at the Centennial Exposition, held in Philadelphia from May 10 - November 10, 1876. Although the main purpose of the fair was to showcase the best and brightest in science, technology, and industry, it also featured a women's pavilion that offered ladies a chance to showcase their talents and compete for prizes. This needlework made its first appearance there as part of the exhibits.

Measuring 48 ½ inches high by 38 ¾ inches wide, this imposing framed piece is definitely the largest embroidery item in our collection and a real visual feast that perfectly captures both the international flavor and Colonial Revival spirit of the exhibition. Not only does it feature a wonderfully eclectic variety of symbols that really cover all the necessary nationalistic and patriotic bases, it also won a medal for Originality in Design and a diploma for Excellence in Workmanship. Perhaps best of all, we know exactly what Mrs. Anthony was thinking when she created it because her explanation of all the symbols is preserved in a printed silk plaque that accompanies the piece. This item is a spectacular achievement and really wows visitors of all ages. There is so much to look at and everyone finds something different in it to be fascinated by."

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National World War I Museum
Stacie Petersen, Registrar

"When one thinks of World War I they picture the battle scarred terrain that covered much of Europe. But it is the images of the everyday life that intrigue me the most. Even though faced with the harsh realities of modern warfare, many of the images in the National World War I Museum and Memorial's collection show young men smiling and carrying on with life. From the service of Edward J. Ochse, 137th Infantry, 35th Division, this photograph has always intrigued me. Where were they going with this piano and could they not have chosen a lighter instrument to carry with them? Perhaps the non-smiling men on the right were the ones responsible for loading and unloading the piano. I just hope the piano stayed in tune for its grand tour."

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Circus World Museum
Pete Shrake, Archivist

"Circus posters were created to capture the imagination and draw audiences to the show. Sometimes exaggerated, often colorful, posters were printed and distributed by the thousands. They were never meant to last more than a few weeks which is why it is amazing that any survive for us to admire today." This poster was chosen by archivist Pete Shrake because "it documents a relatively unknown circus and illustrates a classic scene, a street parade. Thanks to the date tag at the bottom, we also know exactly where this poster was used, Providence, Rhode Island on July 11, 1883."

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Baltimore Museum of Industry
Matt Shirko, Archivist

"This photo is an early map of the then-new Baltimore Beltway highway system. The BGE Photo Collection at the BMI contains some of the only existing photographic documentation of the construction and opening of the Baltimore Beltway (I-695). Dating from 1962, this image is an anomaly within the collection - whereas most images are photographic, this image is actually a photo of a map used to promote the new highway that was used internally by Baltimore Gas & Electric. The Baltimore Beltway allowed Marylanders to circumvent Baltimore City without actually having to go through it - either down stop-and-go city streets or through the Harbor Tunnel.

The most curious aspects of this photo are what isn't pictured: despite the title's claim that the road "unifies Greater Baltimore", in actuality the eastern suburbs are not served by the new highway at all - all of this would change in the 1970s when the I-695 Beltway "loop" was completed on the east side with the construction of additional roads and the Key Bridge. Further unifying the city and its suburbs in the 1970s were the Fort McHenry Tunnel and the construction and interchanges of Interstate 95 in Baltimore."

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