A staple lunchbox food, picnic addition, or food on the go, the sandwich is so ubiquitous these days that we might eat or make one without ever stopping to wonder about the history of this versatile dish. With August as National Sandwich Month, the IDHH would like to highlight this humble entrée and the many ways it’s permeated our everyday culture. While something resembling the sandwich has most likely existed since the consumption of meat and bread began, legend has it that John Montagu, 4th earl of Sandwich, once dined on sliced meat and bread while playing at a gaming table so that he could continue to play as he ate. Indeed, the name was adopted in the 18th century for the earl, but probably due to his requests for the dish in London society or perhaps from a penchant of his to eat sandwiches while working at his desk. Regardless, Montagu’s social status lent the food credibility, and the sandwich soon became fashionable fare on the European continent.
The food item’s simplicity and versatility allow it to be a suitable choice in a variety of environments. Just as welcome in the lunchbox of an elementary school student as a busy professional, the sandwich can be arrayed in a myriad of ways, dressed up for foodies or made as plainly as possible. The World War II poster featuring the character “Jenny on the job” illustrates how the sandwich was used as part of an appeal to a sense of manliness and competence for female workers stepping into roles traditionally filled by men, who were overseas fighting in the war. As versatile as the food itself, the word “sandwich” may also refer to non-food items as well, such as the town of Sandwich, Illinois, the Sandwich Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, or the sandwich mathematical theorem.
Have are a few of our favorite sandwich-related items from the collection:
Want to see more?
View even more items related to sandwiches on the IDHH.
Memorial Day is a day to remember the U.S. military personnel who have died in the line of duty and also a time to reflect on the soldiers and civilians whose lives were forever changed by U.S.-involved conflicts around the world. With a mind toward examining U.S. military history while wishing for world peace and a peaceful memorial day for veterans, military personnel, and people everywhere, the IDHH highlights collections from across Illinois that evince this history, remember veterans, and memorialize soldiers and civilians touched by war.
The state and its residents have a long history of involvement in most of the U.S.’s major conflicts, from the Civil War to present day. The IDHH’s numerous military history collections are particularly focused on the Civil War, World War I, and World War II, including the materials highlighted here. While there are dozens of institutions contributing invaluable content, the focus is on museums, following up last week’s post on International Museum Day: Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum and the Midway Village and Museum Center and the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County. Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum’s collection includes photographic portraits of more than 70 Civil War veterans from the Rockford Area. The collection was previously curated and digitized by the Midway Village and Museum Center. The men in the photographs below represent just three of a small but nonetheless indispensable number of the more than 8,000 Illinoisans who served in the Civil War. Photographs were taken years to decades after the conflict, archived in 1968, and digitized only within the last few years, indicating a long remembrance of the Civil War and its impact on Illinois and its people.
The Bess Bower Dunn Museum features photographs, artifacts, and postcards pertaining to life at what was once a major U.S. Army post in the Fort Sheridan collection. The collection includes photographs of men and women posted at Fort Sheridan from the Spanish American War through the Vietnam War era. In addition to providing a record of everything from the most mundane to the most unusual aspects of life at Fort Sheridan, the collection is especially focused on the Women’s Army Corp (WAC) of Fort Sheridan from its beginnings during World War II until the integration of men and women units in the late 1970s