Signs, photos, documents, to be preserved after Capitol rallies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Signs will be preserved after Capitol rallies


MADISON (WKOW) -- Tuesday marked the first day protesters were allowed to retrieve signs that were taken down from the Capitol walls.

All the signs that once were up inside the Capitol are now in a basement room at 1 W. Wilson, in the Department of Health Services building.

Dozens of protesters came to the room to find their own signs to keep Tuesday, including Sandra Muesegades, who drove down from Sheboygan County to find the signs her nursing colleagues put up.

Muesegades started tearing up when she found her own sign.

She said, "It represents years and years of collective bargaining. I've been a nurse for 38 years now, and this represents all the work we've done to protect worker's rights."

The Wisconsin Historical Society plans to take a few of the signs to preserve them. They'll do that on Friday afternoon, after all protesters have had a chance to search for their own.

Historical Society Director Ellsworth Brown said they're not looking for certain words, but those signs representative of everything that was at rallies around the Capitol, from printed signs, to personal.

Brown said, "Our job is to collect the whole story. There are several sides to this story, and we need to tell all of those sides."

This part of Wisconsin's history may not be on display.. for some time. Brown said it's much more than these posters. He said they'll be collecting information: posters, pictures, documents, and interviews, He's even looking into creating an oral history, by interviewing people from both sides of the debate.

Brown said, "Collecting the other info takes a long time.. we even collect the governor's papers when he leaves office, which is years away."

UW-Madison is also looking to archive and preserve portions of the rallies at the Capitol. University Archive Director David Null tells 27 News he's looking at not only saving some signs and photos, but also social media. He says he's had conversations with the UW Teaching Assistants' Association and a graduate class about preserving social media.

Null said, "You used to read about it in the paper, but now you know about it because you're following someone on Twitter, or you see an event on their Facebook page."

Null says it's all still in the works. They'll likely save tweets and Facebook posts on a computer disk.. if they do.

It's not just Wisconsin looking to preserve this history. A statement from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History said the museum was discussing collecting from Wisconsin, but no decision had been made yet. The Historical Society Director told 27 News a representative from the Smithsonian was in Madison to assess both protesters' signs and the rallies.

The Department of Administration released details on how signs from the Capitol protests can be retrieved.

Beginning Tuesday, individuals can go to the DHS State Office Building, 1 West Wilson Street, Room B257. Hours are Tuesday, March 8, 1:00- 4:00p.

The room will be open to the public from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. through Friday.

Representatives from the State Historical Society will be on hand to observe, but will not remove any signs for preservation until after 4:00 p.m. on Friday. 

Signs remaining after the public and Historical Society have taken those they would like, will be discarded.

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