Wisconsin’s political history is being enriched everyday in this historic election during a pandemic.

But it always helps to add some perspective.

And the Wisconsin Historical Society’s new page devoted to all things politics is a fascinating virtual trip into the past.

In addition to the buttons, bumper stickers, posters and photos from campaigns of yesteryear, we find some quite unusual things in the society’s collection.

There’s former Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus’ red vest, an iconic image for politicos of a certain age.

But the “Arndt Vest”? It’s the vest worn by Charles C.P. Arndt when he was shot on the floor of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, in 1842. And you thought today’s politics were mean!

In a nod to African-American history and the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights, the society highlights two items from its collection:

–Vel Phillips’ Milwaukee Common Council desk. Phillips’ “firsts” are abundant:  the first African American and the first woman to be elected to the Milwaukee Common Council in 1956; the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison law school in 1951; the first woman judge in Milwaukee and the first African American judge in Wisconsin; and when she was elected Wisconsin Secretary of State in 1978, she became the first woman and African American elected to a statewide constitutional office.

–A parade tunic worn by a Wisconsin suffrage supporter during Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, 1916.

And from the presidential campaign trail, a Teddy Roosevelt glass. It’s the water glass used by Roosevelt just after he was shot by a would-be assassin in Milwaukee in 1912.

What will be added from this year’s campaigns? A Donald Trump flag? A Joe Biden mask?

Check out the page and prepare to donate! Click here.

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