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Vintage Wisconsin: First Lady Dorothy Knowles On The Hunt

Knowles Left Manhattan Job When Her Then-Husband Won Governorship


With the opening of gun deer season this weekend, it seems only appropriate to highlight Wisconsin’s hunting past. In this photo, former Wisconsin first lady Dorothy Knowles takes aim with her two hunting dogs around 1968.

Knowles’ ex-husband, Warren P. Knowles, (the two divorced in 1968) served as governor of Wisconsin from 1965 to 1971.

Dorothy Knowles was known for speaking her mind, commenting publicly on everything from wigs to birth control and oleomargarine. An interior decorator who gave up her position at a Manhattan design firm when her husband first ran for office in 1963, Knowles raised money to renovate the Governor’s Mansion once her family took up residency there.

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Knowles also had a lively interest in fashion. She stunned Wisconsinites by announcing her plans to wear pants to the inaugural ball in 1967. Her outfit was more culottes than pants, flowing and full-legged.

But Knowles also shocked residents with her mini-skirts, boots, fake eyelashes and bright pink stockings. In response to some women who found her outfits inappropriate, she told The Milwaukee Journal: “The way I dress and act is a threat to their group security. Most of them went to the same school and dress the same way. There’s a certain kind of security in wearing a cashmere sweater and a tweed skirt.”

Knowles later married avid outdoorsman Francis Trecker.

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