Traveling Trunks and Exhibits on Loan from the ISHS

The Lewis and Clark exhibit and artifacts from the Nez Perce Tribe are on loan from the Idaho State Historical Society until November 15. Come to the McKay Library, room 220 to see and experience these excellent collections of artifacts and replicas of items used by Lewis and Clark on their journey West.

Lewis & Clark Trunk and Exhibit

Ever wonder what items and equipment Lewis and Clark carried with them on the Voyage of Discovery? This trunk contains replicas of items listed on Lewis's inventory, inlcuding materials used in plant identification, journal writing, map making, and developing relations with Native Americans. Many of the items can be handled, giving you a chance at a one-of-a-kind experience.

Nez Perce Trunk

Touch, see, and learn about the culture of the Nez Perce with artifacts handmade by tribal members. See handcrafted items that bring tribal culture to you.

Here are a few sneak peaks:

WritingFeather Pen

Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark were charged by President Thomas Jefferson to explore and to chart the territory newly acquired following the Louisiana Purchase. Plant and animal life, geography, and local Native-American tribes were all sketched, studied, charted, recorded, and graphed along the way. A portable, permanent, and easily accessible method to document all of the expedition's journeying was greatly needed, and thoroughly depended upon by Captains Lewis and Clark.

The primary writing utensil was the QUILL PEN, easily made from the primary wing-feather of a large bird (crows, owls, or turkeys for example). A good QUILL PEN would need only infrequent sharpening, and would last as long as the feather itself.

The INK carried on the Corps of Discovery Expedition of Captains Lewis & Clark was kept as powder so as to allow for effortless transport and storage, and would be mixed into use when needed.

Tomahawk Pipe Tomahawk Pipe

The tomahawk pipe was usually made from native wood, with the blade either being made from iron, or brass. This tool was mostly used mostly for smoking during ceremonies, councils, and rituals. It has also been referred to as the "peace pipe," because they were given as gifts to seal treaties among different groups. Lewis and Clark took fifty tomahawk pipes on their expedition to use to trade, or to give as gifts. At times the tomahawk pipe was used for cutting, but this only happened periodically. The pipe was more symbolic, decorative item, and was usually held by Native American chiefs as a symbol of leadership. 

 Early-Made Button
Early Button Making In The United States

The first buttons made in the United Sates were of metal. In 1750, Caspar Wistar, a German immigrant, began to manufacture brass buttons in Philadelphia. This conscientious man guaranteed his buttons for seven years! Within a few years, several firms in New England were producing buttons. The output was still so small at the outbreak of the American Revolution (1775) that the metal buttons used on the uniforms of American soldiers had to be imported from France.

During the War of 1812, button imports were cut off as a result of the British blockade. Aaron Benedict, a button maker of Waterbury, Connecticut, made the most of the golden opportunity offered by the war. He bought up every brass pot and pan on which he could lay his hands on and rolled the metal for buttons in his own rolling mill.

When he could no longer get brass, he made his buttons out of pewter. After the war, the metal-button industry made rapid progress. Buttons covered with cloth were introduced, and then horn buttons, made from the horns and hoofs of cattle.

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