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From the Education Department: National Fragrance Day

Feb. 28, 2024 1:59 pm

Perfumes and fragrances have been culturally significant for millennia to get us where we are today: celebrating national fragrance day.

The first record of perfume dates back to the second millennium BC in Mesopotamia when it was invented by a chemist named Tapputi. In Ancient Egypt, perfume was a staple used to flash one's wealth as it could only be accessed by the wealthy. Because of its significance, the Egyptians had a god of perfume, Nefertem. He was often depicted with water lilies, which were commonly used in perfume. Queens held perfume dear, not only using it to create a pleasant aroma, but they would also be entombed with a bottle. While Egypt and many other ancient nations saw perfume as a symbol of wealth, the Ancient Chinese would incorporate it into their daily lives, scenting their ink, stationary, homes, and places of worship.  They also would use it for disinfection and purity, believing that it could rid a room of disease although it was primarily used simply for its scent.

The Ancient Chinese was not the only society that emphasized the use of perfume for healing processes; in Medieval Europe, doctors would wear bird-like masks stuffed with herbs, spices, and oils to prevent themselves from getting ill. Because of poor hygiene and living conditions, Medieval Europe smelt rancid, and it was thought that breathing in the "bad air" was how the plague spread. Nutmeg was one of the most used scents, and modern science has found that it could have saved people from contracting the plague but in a very different way than thought of. Fleas appear to dislike nutmeg, so it is possible that the scent could have saved some people from getting the disease.

During the period of European exploration, explorers would take spices and plants from all over the world and return them home to be used in their own perfumes. When the scents were brought back to Europe, the kings and queens would cherish them dearly, and it began to be commonplace for royalty in Europe to treasure their scent. 18th century France took the royal love of perfume to a whole new level.

King Louis XIV was most known for his love of perfume, being nicknamed "The Sweetest Smelling King of All" (despite only having bathed three times in his life). The Palace of Versailles was filled with flower petals and furniture sprayed with perfume. Even guests were sprayed with perfume upon entering the palace, and Louis' most favored guests had their own signature scents that they would manage the creation of. Louis himself insisted that all his shirts be perfumed with a scent called "Aqua Angeli", so servants used it to rinse his shirts. Despite his love of fragrance for his whole life, in his later years, he could only tolerate the scent of oranges, After Louis XIV had passed, Marie Antoinette carried on his legacy in her own love of perfume. She hired perfumer Jean-Louis Fargeon to create perfumes just as lavish as she was. Despite having initially supported the revolution, Fargeon remained loyal to the queen until her execution in 1793.

The 1920s brought about the modernization of perfume with the creation of Chanel. Gabrielle Chanel wanted to create a scent for woman that embodied modern femininity. Russian chemist, Ernest Beaux, was willing to help Chanel create the signature scent she was after. He created ten samples, and she liked number 5 the best. Its soapy smell reminded her of her childhood since her mother was a laundress. With its touch of familiarity along with its modernity, it was exactly the scent that Chanel was after. Women around the world instantly loved it, and to this day, it is the most popular fragrance around the world.

Mar McKenna


De Pere High School, Class of 2024

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From the Education Department: National Lace Day

Feb. 12, 2024 3:39 pm

February 3rd is National Lace Day, and here at the Neville Public Museum, we have a lot to celebrate.

Lace was first developed in Europe during the 1500s, and two methods of lace making formed simultaneously: needle lace (using a single needle and thread) and bobbin lace (intertwining many threads). Initially, it was made of linen before transitioning to silk and metallic gold threads. In the 1800s, though, lace makers turned to cotton, which is what is currently used. During the 16th century, lace would often be named after the region it was made in. Even though lace was made all throughout Europe, Italy, France, and Flanders (modern-day Belgium) established themselves as the leading centers for lace making.

The finest lace was created by three specialists: an artist who created the designs, the pattern maker who put the designs onto parchment, and the lace maker who made the lace itself. All the effort that went into creating the lace was the reason it was seen as the most treasured, but the creation of all lace was tedious, which is why it was such a coveted fabric. It adapted with style through the centuries and, until the 1700s, it was commonly worn by men and women. Lace was an incredibly popular way to show off one's high societal status throughout Europe until the late 18th century because of the French Revolution.

During the French Revolution, nobility and royalty would be killed. Not speculating any farther than their clothing, the seemingly wealthy were beheaded. Once the revolution was over and all its fighters dead, lace resurged. John Heathcoat invented a machine for making the most tedious part of lace, the mesh ground, during the Industrial Revolution. Despite the continual advancements of technology to create lace, handmade lace was still in demand. Now that aristocrats and nobility no longer feared for their life, they could return to flaunting their wealth. As Europeans immigrated to the United States, they brought lacemaking with them.

Lace was first introduced in Wisconsin in 1898 by Sybil Carter, an Episcopalian missionary from Louisiana. Carter taught the Oneida women how to bobbin lace and established a system sending teachers and materials to several tribes across the United States, including the Oneida. The finished products were shipped to New York and went on to win international awards and were sold for high prices. When Native American children were forced to go to boarding school during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to assimilate into the white American culture, they were taught lacemaking. Upon returning home, not wanting to have to leave their communities again, many Oneida women took up lacemaking as a career. Therefore, lace goods made by the tribe during this period may often appear Eurocentric, but they did include many important symbols to the Oneida, such as the sky dome and the tree of life.

During the Victorian Era, death was everywhere. Since the Industrial Revolution was happening simultaneously, so was lace. With death being frequent and romanticized, women would often wear mourning dresses after losing a loved one, many times including lace. Queen Victoria herself is most known for this, having worn a mourning dress for 40 years after losing her husband, Prince Albert. There were various opinions about the social norms of mourning, especially in the United States: even commonalities between citizens differed from city to city. When a woman was widowed, the fashion rules were relatively strict for the two years she would be in mourning. During the deep mourning phase, a woman would wear plain black clothing and a veil. Should she wear lace in this stage, it had to be dull and black. Throughout mourning, a woman may wear this type of lace, and it was acceptable to wear lace mourning gloves in the later stages of mourning (first and second mourning). Lace would not be a main fabric worn until the final stage of mourning, known as half-mourning. Then, a widow would often wear a black lace bonnet with flowers on it. 

Lace mourning gloves and a mourning bodice trimmed with lace. The bodice would be acceptable at any stage of mourning, but gloves such as these should only be worn after the deep mourning has come to an end. 

During the 1920s, lace was especially popular on tea length flapper dresses, but, once the Great Depression started, most people could no longer afford lace, but that did not stop them from recreating the style. Using gingham fabric, cheap thread, and simple embroidery techniques, women developed Depression Lace that they would add to make other fabrics more appealing. Real lace was also used when it could be. If a woman had lace before the Depression started, she would cut it out of outgrown or shabby clothing to be reused. 

A tea length flapper dress trimmed with lace.

A dress from 1930 made of lace with an underdress made of more practical fabrics. The Great Depression did not affect everyone to the same extent. For example, the owner of this dress could still afford the expensive materials despite most of the country facing a dark time economically. 

Mar McKenna

De Pere High School, Class of 2024

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From the Education Department: National Jewel Day

Feb. 8, 2024 3:06 pm

Today is National Jewel Day, and among our collection at the Neville Public Museum, we have this lovely amethyst gemstone courtesy of Robert Berndt. 

While always having a purple appearance, the color of amethyst stones can greatly differ. It can vary from a pale lavender to a vivid reddish violet. With such contrasting colors and being such a plentiful gemstone, amethyst's value depends on its hue. The more vibrant the stone appears indicates a higher price that it can sell for. 

Even though its worth is based on its appearance now, that was not always the case. Ancient Greeks and Romans associated amethyst with warding off drunkenness since both societies believed that the stone was discovered by their god of wine. Ancient Egyptians centered amethyst even more than the other two cultures, though; they created amethyst amulets to bring them closer to the divine and to protect them against harm. They also carved jewelry out of amethyst. Even though the designs were originally simplistic, later designs became much more extravagant. 

Many early Christians also associated amethyst with their god. They believed that the lighter purples represented a virtuous soul, and the darker violets and reds symbolized humility and purity one experiences from suffering. Some believed that the deeper shades stood for Christ's hardships in death. Because of that, Christians previously use amethyst for healing wounds. Amethyst symbolism surrounding Christianity is culturally significant even in the modern day. Being the birthstone of February, it represents love because, as legend states, St. Valentine wore a ring with Cupid's portrait carved out of amethyst. 

These cultures were not the only ones that believed in the healing powers of amethyst. The stone was thought to bring a calming presence and connect one more to their deities, their mind, and their existence, and they were used throughout societies and religions worldwide.

Not only was amethyst important spiritually, it also was a symbol of wealth. Purple has been historically associated with royalty, so therefore, monarchies were prone to adapt a violet gemstone into their jewelry. It was also known as rare until the 19th century because it was throughout Europe. Brazil had many amethyst deposits, though, and once that was discovered, its value diminished significantly. 

Amethyst symbolism is culturally significant even in the modern day. Being the birthstone of February, it represents love because, as legend states, St. Valentine wore a ring with Cupid's portrait carved out of amethyst. 

Psychics and reiki practitioners swear by the benefits of incorporating amethyst into one's daily life (such as carrying the stone around with you, meditating while holding it, and speaking wishes to it). They claim this will improve one's physical health (enhancing the immune system, improving skin and digestive health, reducing headaches, and regulating hormones), mental health (promoting peace and clarity), and connection to the metaphysical. Despite these claims, the use of amethyst for health has no scientific backing.   

Geologists love amethyst because it can be a clue in understanding the structure of the surrounding land. Amethyst is often found alongside volcanic rocks; thus, it can mean there has been volcanic activity in the area. It often forms in hydrothermal veins, which are cracks in the Earth's crust where hot water and minerals cumulate. In this case, finding amethyst means there are likely other precious gemstones about. Being such a unique rock, and therefore easily identified, amethyst can also be used as a starting point for dating other rocks and studying the rock cycle. 
Mar McKenna


De Pere High School, Class of 2024

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National LEGO Day

Jan. 29, 2024 4:49 pm

January 28th is National LEGO Day, and the Neville Public Museum is the proud home of the LEGO Lambeau Field display.

In 2013, 15 students from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) built a scale model of Lambeau Field using over 130,000 LEGO pieces. This opportunity was given to the students by their professor, who claimed that the project was an effective way to practice skills needed for engineering, such as design, scheduling, and estimating. The students took a trip to Lambeau Field to get photos of the stadium, and, using their pictures and Google Earth, they created the blueprint. Even though most of it was built in Milwaukee, it was transported to Green Bay to be finished at the real Lambeau Field in hopes of being displayed at an event on August 3rd, 2013. Alas, it was not finished by then, but patrons were able to watch the work in progress and see a near-complete exhibit. The replica was finished two days later. 

After it was displayed at Lambeau Field, the model was moved to Bellin Hospital. In 2015, it was transported to the Neville Public Museum by Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) students who also re-assembled it. The display has only moved once since: from the Discovery Room, now known as the Community Exhibit Space, to the Engineering section of Spectacular Science! It is now one of the first things guests will see upon entrance.

LEGO Lambeau is built on a 1:72 scale, meaning that one inch of the model equates to 72 inches, or six feet, of the original, making the replica measure 15 feet in length, 13 feet in width, and 27 inches in height. Over the course of six months, the MSOE students spent over 1,500 hours on the display. In total, it weighs almost 500 pounds.

With a $100 donation to the Neville Public Museum Foundation, anyone can get a Minifigure of their own in LEGO Lambeau. The number on the figurine's back represents the order in which it was bought and placed in the stadium. A seven-letter nickname of their choice can be placed on the back of the figurine. The museum welcomes people to bring in their own figurines or buy one from the gift shop to be more customized as well. This can be done online or by filling out the LEGO Lambeau brochure at the museum. Currently, over 110 Minifigures call LEGO Lambeau home.

Mar McKenna


De Pere High School, Class of 2024

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From the Education Cart: Fort Howard

Dec. 13, 2023 3:36 pm

 Fur Trade: The Beaver Pelt

During the fur trade, the beaver pelt was the most desired commodity-especially in the Midwest. Not only are they incredibly soft, but they are also warm and waterproof. Fur traders often travelled by water, so to survive brutal Wisconsin winters during their voyages, they looked to the beaver.

                Beavers were such a central point to the fur trade that, when they began to be overhunted, the fur trade began to collapse. Other animals were just as accessible as the beaver, but they were not as desirable. Deer and muskrat pelts were just as abundant as beavers once were; however, they did not have the same insulation or waterproof quality. Thus, the demand was much lower for these furs, causing the fur trade to collapse.

                At this time, Green Bay heavily relied on the fur trade for its economy, but, luckily, two other industries were on the rise that gave the city the support it needed to flourish: railroads and dairy. Fort Howard, formerly Green Bay's military fort, was bought out by railroad companies. Therefore, trains would come through the city, stopping at Fort Howard. By the end of the fur trade, dairy farms had begun to pop up all throughout Wisconsin to the point where the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association had to be established to promote the production of cheese and inform farmers on more effective ways to go about their work.

                As for our furry friend, the beaver? They are on the rebound! There are about 150 times more beavers across North America as there was at the end of the fur trade.

Porcelain Doll


During the 19th century, dolls were a popular toy among girls. A porcelain doll, though, would only be played with by a daughter of wealthy parents because of the material's high price. More commonly, dolls were made of cloth and scrapped together at home. They would often be stuffed with cotton, feathers, or straw. Plastic, a cheap source for dollmaking that is commonly used today, would not come around until the early 1900s.

Play in this time was not the same as play in the modern day. Parents viewed a child's playtime as a "practice run" for adulthood. Using their dolls, young girls would learn how to behave like a proper lady and mother. This dealt with everything from running a household to dealing with death.

                Despite a porcelain doll's elegant features, what lies inside of her is much less sophisticated. The body of these toys are made of fabric that is filled with either bran or sawdust. The 1860s would make way for celluloid, a cheaper and less fragile material that would replace many of the porcelain dolls. Even though the fragile dolls lost much of their popularity, they continue to be made to this day because many people want to hold on to the status symbol of centuries ago.

 Schoolhouse Slate


                As the middle class began forming in the 1800s, more children began to attend school. At the time, these schools were one-room schoolhouses where young children and older children would learn together. The older kids would pass down the knowledge they had learned previously in school to the younger children.

                The slate and chalk were common tools used in the classroom, similar to the modern-day whiteboards and markers. When a teacher would ask a question, the students would often write their answers on the slate, and when it was time to move on, they would wipe their work away with a cloth or wet sponge.

                This was the only writing tool accessible for students; they had nothing to take permanent notes on. Therefore, they were forced to pay close attention to lessons and memorize what their teachers said. Still, slates were the most popular tool classroom tool at the time. If a child would go on to a university after finishing their education in the one room schoolhouse, that would still be their primary utensil.

                Even though the bigger version of a slate, the blackboard, lived on into the early 21st century, slates were largely replaced with paper and pencils in the 1930s.


 The Evolution from Muskets to Rifles

For three centuries, the musket was one of the most popular pieces of weaponry. It got the United States through its two wars against Great Britian: The American Revolution and the War of 1812. They were created as a larger version of the harquebus, the first gun that fired off the shoulder. Early muskets had to be operated by two people from a portable rest because they would usually weigh around 20 pounds. These weapons did not have much accuracy either.

                Luckily, later versions of the musket improved its many flaws. With greater accuracy and being lighter weight, these weapons carried the western world through its conflicts for centuries. From smaller wars in the nation--such as the Seminole Wars, between the Seminole tribe and the United States-to bigger wars for an empire, such as the Napoleonic Wars, everyone relied on muskets.

                By the 1850s, though, the musket began to be almost permanently replaced by the rifle that had been in development since the 17th century (100 years after the first musket was used). They were more accurate and evolved way past the musket. The Civil War was right at the shift of the weapons' popularity, so different types of rifles were mostly used. Seeing a musket was not uncommon during this time, though. By World War One, muskets were obsolete; the Great War was the last major conflict that they were present during.

 The Wool Industry 

                In the 1800s, fur was a major source of warmth for Midwesterners in the wintertime; however, it was not the only material used. Wool was also very popular because it provided secure insulation, and the fabric was found especially useful after the fur trade had ended.

                With the turn of the century from the 1700s to the 1800s came a new sheep: the Spanish merino. American farmers wanted to make sure to provide fleece just as warm and suitable for humans to wear, so they bred their sheep to produce the American merino, which had a heavier, more insulated fleece compared to the Spanish's fine wool. Of course, to those living in colder climates, the American merino had a more suitable coat, so the American wool industry and the Midwestern consumer both won in this case.

                The Civil War also helped the wool industry expand. Cotton production was mainly in the South, so the North could not use the plant. Wool provided the same warmth as cotton, and it was similar enough that turning machinery from being used for cotton to wool was not a drastic shift.

                With the end of the war came the second industrial revolution, which made way for manmade fibers. Even though the wool industry was still thriving at the time, many smaller mills had to shut down. These manmade fibers were revolutionary, and as they have been on the rise since their invention, wool has been on the decline.

Mar McKenna


De Pere High School, Class of 2024

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What's This Thing? Artifact Spotlight

Apr. 18, 2023 4:15 pm

Why is there a ledge on the inside of this cup?

It's a mustache guard! Mustaches became trendy in the 19th century, which lead to extensive grooming and mustache care. Men used mustache wax, mustache brushes, mustache combs, and mustache scissors to shape and maintain their preferred style. Some even dyed their mustaches.

All of these products did not fare well when mixed with the heat and steam from tea, coffee, or other hot beverages. Mustache wax would melt. Dye would drip. Tea and coffee could stain facial hair. Mustaches would be complete disasters. Mustache guards like this one protected a man's mustache, while allowing him to still enjoy tea time.

This earthenware mustache cup was donated in 1937 by Mrs. Sophia Thelen. It is one of several mustache cups in the Neville's collection.
The mustache cup was invented in the mid 19th century by English potter Harvey Adams. It soon spread across Europe and over to North America. Mustache cups were originally sold individually, often ordered as gifts. However, by the end of the 19th century, mustache cups were typically included with full tableware sets. Most, like the cup pictured, are right-handed. However left-handed mustache cups were also created, supposedly ordered for Civil War soldiers who could no longer use their right hand.

As mustaches went out of fashion around the time of World War I, so did the need for mustache cups.

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The Diary of Adam Martin

Aug. 24, 2022 2:00 pm

This diary belonged to Adam Martin, who wrote in it from 1770 to 1780. Adam Martin was born on August 27th, 1739 in Sturbridge, Worcester, Massachusetts Bay Colony, to Aaron Martin and Sarah Newell. Adam married Abigail Cheney in Sturbridge on December 19th, 1762. Adam and Abigail had five daughters and at least one son.

Adam joined the military in 1775 and was a captain in the Revolutionary War, first in Col. Ebenezer Learned's 14th Massachusetts Bay Provincial Regiment in 1775, then in Col. Timothy Bigelow's 15th Massachusetts Regiment, Continental Army in 1777.

Adam and Abigail's son Walter became a brigadier general in the War of 1812, established the village of Martinsburg in New York in 1803, and served in the New York State Senate. Walter's son Morgan Lewis Martin is someone Green Bay history buffs are more familiar with. In addition to building Hazelwood Historic House and serving as a Brown County judge, Morgan L. Martin was a delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Wisconsin Territory during the 29th U.S. Congress and served in the Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly.

Morgan Lewis Martin

One of Adam and Abigail's daughters is also of note in Wisconsin history. Sarah Martin married Hon. Chillus Doty and had several children, including James Duane Doty. James was crucial to the development of the Wisconsin Territory and was even largely responsible for the selection of Madison as the capital. He lived in Green Bay for some time, and went on to become a district judge, a member of the Michigan Territorial Council, the Wisconsin Territory's congressional delegate, governor of the Wisconsin Territory, delegate to the First Wisconsin Constitutional Convention, member of the House of Representatives for Wisconsin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Utah Territory, and finally, Governor of the Utah Territory.

Photo courtesy of Neenah Historical Society

James Duane Doty's home was located on what is now known as Doty Island (between Neenah and Menasha). The home fell into disrepair over the years, so a replica was built in 1948. The replica is now on the National and State Register of Historic Places. Doty's Cabin is in Doty Park on the southeast riverfront of Doty Island. It is open to visitors in the summer.

Marin Kniskern

Digitization and Research Technician

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Native American Heritage Month: Ada Deer

Nov. 19, 2021 4:22 pm

Ada Deer was born in Keshena, WI as a member of the Menominee Tribe in 1935. She lived most of her first eighteen years of life on the Menominee Indian Reservation in a cabin without electricity or running water.  Her mother instilled in her a drive and passion to be a strong advocate for Native American rights. Ada was the first Menominee to earn an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin and the first Native American to receive a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University.

She went on to become the first woman chair for the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin. She played a major role in the Menominee Restoration Act of 1972, which officially returned the Menominee Reservation to federally recognized status. She acted as a spokesperson in Washington, D.C. and lobbied to return federal recognition and protection to the tribe.

She was then elected chairperson of the Menominee Restoration committee and had the task of making the transition back to reservation status. There were many frustrations during the process. Eventually in 1976, the tribal roles were validated, and an electorate was created to vote on a constitution and bylaws. Soon after this process, Ada resigned.

Ada later went on to teach at the University of Wisconsin and eventually worked as a legislative liaison for the Native American Rights Fund in Washington, D.C. She became the first American Indian to run for statewide office in Wisconsin as Secretary of State. In 1993, Ada became the first Native American woman to be appointed assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She helped set federal policy for more than 550 federally recognized tribes while in office.

"I knew that when I became the Assistant Secretary, that I would have a hard time. All the "-isms" were immediately against me from day one: sexism, racism, elitism, classism. Women have their [proper place] in society and being American Indian was another whole thing. I plowed ahead anyway but it was very hard, it was an ordeal everyday, and it was a lot of physical strength and psychological strength and endurance and I did as much as I could despite all the "isms" and the barriers that people put up to prevent me from doing things."

Segment from "Interview with Ada Deer." Interviewed by Robert Lange Wisconsin State Historical Society.

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