Broom Brigade

Date in History: 1882

After the Civil War, patriotism in America was at an all time high. Men formed veteran’s organizations complete with parades, music and uniforms, providing a source of fellowship.

During the 1880s, women decided to form their own patriotic units in the form of broom brigades. These units became extremely popular with women and were very active, much to the surprise of the men of the time. The broom brigades allowed women physical exercise but kept domesticity near at hand since the brooms represented cleanliness and order.

In Fort Atkinson, the Star Broom Brigade, an auxiliary of the Hoard Rifles gave their first demonsration in 1883. It was led by Captain John Foote and was well received by the citizens of the city. One newspaper reported that the women “swept the floor and prowled the air for imaginary cobwebs.”

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 02/06/2006.

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